How to Spend Less and Save More This Christmas Without Being a Grinch

I’ll start this week’s column with an apology. Yes, it’s still September and we’re putting away the sunscreen, but this is your annual reminder that there’s only twelve weeks until Christmas.

ith the current cost of living crisis, which will only get worse with winter fuel bills, households are being financially strained more than normal.

The more forward planning we can do now, the easier things will be when the big expenses for December arrive.

So how do we plan for the most expensive time of the year?


There are still three months to go, but it’s not too early to start thinking about what Christmas should look like this year.

It’s stressful enough without putting important issues on hold until the last minute or assuming that somehow everything will work out.

So I think this is the right time to talk to everyone you’ll be sharing the festive season with about how to approach things in a simpler or less commercial way.

Everyone is feeling the pinch right now, so your conversation starter might be welcome.

Should you make Kris Kindle, where everyone picks a name from a hat to buy a gift, with a set agreed amount, rather than a bunch of gifts for everyone that, frankly, nobody will remember in January?

You can make Kris Kindle with family, friends and co-workers. In fact, you can choose to just buy a gift for the family kids or limit spending to novelties – who can buy the funniest gift for a fiver.

Why not buy a family board game for each group or limit your choices to used books? We do this for a group of friends and it’s always the most thoughtful gift.

The next conversation is who is going where. If you’re used to eating 18 for dinner and just can’t and can’t afford it this year, now is the time to ask everyone to do it differently.

You could meet at a different, less stressful time, or break up the groups and go on a celebratory hike together instead of sitting at the table.

Divide up the chores: everyone brings their own course and contributes to the meal in some way. Chefs don’t mind if they’re asked to bring something (it can get quite competitive), and non-chefs can bring flowers, wine, cookies, or to keep the kids entertained.

We’ve all seen the signs at restaurants and bars asking for staff. Santa also has a recruitment shortage among elves. Managing the expectations surrounding gifts is important, and simply throwing the Argos catalog at children is overwhelming. Having conversations now about what’s available and affordable won’t make Christmas morning any less enjoyable.


I admit I’ve already started planning my visits to the supermarket. I keep all loyalty card points from now on and recharge as many as possible through careful selection. This way I have more tokens for my “big” shop in December.

Pooling points with so-called “partner” companies is a great way to stretch your points. Tesco has the best deals; €5 worth of points can be used as a €15 voucher on and €4 in points is €21 off your entry to Dublin Zoo.

I also save all my Boots points until Christmas. It always has great gift sets that can be exchanged for points.

Buy something durable from your store every week. It can be as little as extra aluminum foil or napkins, or a bottle of liquor or stocking stuffer to store.

My Tipis to create two lists to keep on your phone: one for gifts (who, what, how much) and the other for grocery shopping (what you need will be crossed out when you buy).

Black Friday takes place on November 25th. But now it’s time to check the prices for what you might buy.

That way you can check if it’s actually a bargain, and being pre-selected doesn’t get you caught up in clicking.

Do not buy in the UK or outside the EU if you can avoid it. Brexit means additional duties, VAT and taxes may apply, even to goods from UK websites. If the item isn’t made in the UK then under the revenue rules you can’t import it tax free – and you won’t always know it. A British shop is not a British manufacturer.

budgets and savings

Okay, 12 weeks isn’t much, but saving €50 a week means saving €600 upfront. Set up a deposit account with your bank online (it’s free) or open a Vault on Revolut and get started right away.

Even €10 a week is €120, most of your Christmas dinners need sorting.

€25 a week is €300 – a few gifts paid for in advance.

look ahead

I might as well say it: Christmas 2023 is only 64 weeks away. But don’t worry, a tenner a week from January means €500 next year.

Or why not start my Pringles Savings Challenge for 2023? Cut a slit in the top of a Pringles tube (eat all the chips first as an incentive) and put 1c inside on January 1st. Add 1 cent more every day, so 2 cents, 3 cents, 4 cents, etc. until the end of the year.

Even on the highest day, it’s only €3.65. By the end of the year you will have €667.95 in it. This is your New Year’s treat sorted by the sofa back change! How to Spend Less and Save More This Christmas Without Being a Grinch

Fry Electronics Team

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