finance

The savings tips that'll help you get on top of things before Christmas.

Is it just me or has this year flown? I doubt I’m the only one who thinks so. I happened to glance at the calendar the other day and noticed it was October – cue mild panic attack.

I don’t mean to alarm you, but Christmas is just TWO MONTHS AWAY. Woolworths will be rolling out the Christmas decorations and fruit-cake any day now and your kids will be begging to put up the tree. If the thought of that gives you anxiety, I hate to add fuel to the fire… but just a friendly reminder that you’ll also need to start Christmas shopping.

I, personally, would like have a stern word with whoever decided to put Christmas at the end of the year. What better way to celebrate 12 months of expenses than by buying gifts for everyone you know? Do I sound like the Grinch? Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas but I also know the pressure that comes part and parcel with it.

Unlike Beyonce, I am not swimming in money. (Image via On The Run/Screenshot.)

If your hip pocket is feeling a little empty at the moment, do not fret — I have some simple savings tips will help you feel a little more prepared this silly season.

1. Sell up.

It might sound a little extreme, and I’m not telling you to sell everything you own but now is the perfect time to declutter. ‘Tis the season after all - they don’t call it spring cleaning for nothing. That exercise bike collecting dust? Gumtree it. That expensive dress that you splurged on, but have never worn? eBay it.

As much as I am a devout worshipper at the church of Carrie Bradshaw, I can’t help but disagree with her in regards to spending… No number of Manolos are gonna make the kids happy come December 25th, so why not get rid of the stuff that no longer serves you and put that money where you really need it? (Under the Christmas tree, apparently...)

"That expensive dress that you splurged on, but have never worn? eBay it." (Image: Sex and the City, HBO)
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2. Shop around.

When was the last time you updated your phone/internet/energy/home insurance/car insurance/mortgage provider? I’m exhausted just listing them.

The majority of us sign up for these things then cruise along for years, not bothering to check if there’s something better on offer. The reality is, there are plenty of promotions and discounts around that providers use to attract new clients, but often existing clients miss out.

Remember the old adage, ‘Ask and you shall receive’? Well, the same goes for special offers and discounts - ask your service providers if they can do better and you might be surprised by their answer and the money you could save. You are a valued customer after all, you deserve a break.

Remember the old adage, ‘Ask and you shall receive’? Same goes for special offers and discounts. (iStock.)

3. Check your bank statements.

There are two types of people in this world: The ones who open their bank statements and the ones who don’t.

Whether yours arrive via snail mail or email, I suggest you start opening those babies because you could be getting charged for things you shouldn’t be. Check your bank statements for incorrect charges, fees that can be reversed or even direct debits you’d forgotten about and no longer use (New Years resolution gym membership, we’re looking at you). Knowing where your money is going is the first step in identifying any savings you could be making, so don’t ignore those envelopes or inboxes any longer.

Unless you’re the DIY/’we don’t do presents’ type, Christmas can be a costly time of year, but by taking note of some of my savings suggestions in the lead-up you’ll be in a much better position when Santa comes to town.

Natasha Janssens is the founder of Women with Cents and finance expert. You can see more from her on her website.

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