The days are getting colder, winter is drawing in and although there are festivities to look forward to, Christmas has a knack of taking its toll on your wallet. Although I can’t promise to make this year a cost-free yuletide, there are some ways to save money over the festive season.

 1. Use loyalty cards or discount cards to pay for your shopping.

Have you been saving up points and have done nothing with them? They could make a dent in your Christmas costs.

2. Recycle presents.

OK, so it might sound a bit cheap, but there are probably loads of things you have been given that you have NEVER used! Can you not just wrap them back up and send them on to someone who might appreciate them? Just make sure you don’t give them back to the person who gave them to you originally!

3. Use a cashback site.

Most of us know about using coupons to gain discounts, but you can also gain direct cash back from your online shopping. If you click through to the retailer from your cashback site, you will be credited a percentage of your purchase back into your account. Try for the US, or in the UK.

4. Buy a less expensive brand of food.

If you usually buy the most expensive brand, downgrade just a step – you may find you can hardly taste the difference. If you usually buy a mid-range brand, buy one that is a tiny bit cheaper. It may seem like very little saving on one product, but if you do the same for all your Christmas food shopping, then you could save yourself a reasonable amount of money.

5. Bake your own cookies/cakes/mince pies instead of buying them.

There is nothing quite as satisfying as baking your own cakes and cookies – and it is cost-effective too.

6. Make your own Christmas decorations.

You can easily find inexpensive, glittery paper from which you can cut lanterns and garlands. Again, this is a great way to get children involved in the festive preparations.

7. Chat on Skype and not on the phone.

 If you have family overseas, using Skype, or cost-saving telephone packages, can save money on long-distance calls, which can otherwise be very expensive at peak rates.

8. Shop around.

It may sound almost too obvious, but if we leave Christmas too late, it is often far easier, less stressful and less time-consuming to just pick up the first thing we see. If you can start to prepare early for Christmas, there are so many price-comparison sites out there that it would be foolish to not take advantage and just buy the less-expensive version. Just be careful to include the postage costs in your calculations.

9. Use a cashback credit card.

Crazy as it sounds, some credit card companies actually give you money back on your purchases. To actually benefit from this, it is vitally important that you pay off the entire balance of your card by the due date, or the interest that you will incur will be greater that the amount you will gain through cashback.

 10. Post cards and presents early.

We all know that postage costs become greater the later we leave it - yet we still leave things until the last minute and pay more than we really need to. Being organised can save us money - so get Christmas underway as soon as possible.

One Hundred Dollar Bills