A mum-of-two has revealed how she will give her children a special Christmas this year – by cutting down on bills.
Lydia Gardner, 41, is planning to push the boat out this year with gifts, treats and activities costing an extra £1,300.
These include a £100 breakfast with Father Christmas at Portsmouth’s Spinnaker Tower, a £400 stay in a spa hotel, a visit to Winter Wonderland costing £250 plus gifts including a £450 iPhone and £100 Nintendo Switch computer games.
The doting mum has an eight-year-old son and a six-year-old daughter.
Lydia, from Southampton, said: “Last Christmas we stayed in with just me and the kids and watched films. It was nice to have that time together, but there was definitely a feeling of something missing.
“With lots of Christmas activities cancelled last year due to Covid we really want to push the boat out and show the kids the real magic of Christmas.
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“The kids were desperate to go to Winter Wonderland last year in Hyde Park, but it was cancelled so we promised them they could go this year.
“I try to avoid buying unnecessary tat and just focus on one really good present each and then spend money on doing things they will enjoy and remember. They know they will get lots of presents from their grandparents anyway.”
She is far from alone in planning to splash out this Christmas to make up for 2020.
Research from communications provider Plusnet found Brits are planning to spend an average of £520 on Christmas presents, food and activities. The average last year was £476.
When it comes to extra Christmas spending, 35% of shoppers said they planned to save money in the run-up to the festive season by reducing wasteful spending and lowering bills by switching broadband, phone and utility providers.
Around 38% plan to spend more on going out for meals and drinks, 31% will spend more on family activities and 29% will have extra people over for Christmas dinner.
But better presents are still on the agenda for many, with 37% saying they will spend more on gifts.
Lydia is also planning to splash out on some luxury meals and treats from M&S and kicked off her Christmas shopping in August in order to spread the cost out over several months.
Lydia has already identified ways she can save money to help pay for Christmas luxuries including shopping around for better value deals on her bills and groceries, using cashback and picking budget items over luxury alternatives.
She said: “I have a list on my phone of things I regularly need and where I can get them the cheapest so if I am passing that shop I know exactly what to get there and what I can get cheaper elsewhere.
“I’ll be using supermarket points to help pay for Christmas presents for my kids. I’ll get my daughter’s phone from a supermarket and use points to help pay for it. Likewise my son’s games will come from Argos and I’ll use Nectar points to pay for them.
“I’ve just renewed my car insurance, and after adding another year’s no claims bonus I called up my insurer and asked for a further discount. They knocked the price down by an extra £14 per month.”
Lydia estimates her approach saves her at least £100 per month on groceries. She estimates she treats the family to two takeaways per month – using promo codes and discounts to save £70 per month.
She said: “It’s really important to still enjoy treats like a takeaway but I have to approach it differently – even for just me and my partner it could be £40, more with the kids, but you can get a ready meal for £10 which we enjoy just as much.”
She has also made almost £300 in one year from referring friends to switch to electricity provider Octopus.
Every time she refers a friend to switch to the provider, she – and the person who switches – both get £50.
Through her research, Lydia also discovered ways to make a ‘passive income’ such as cashback app Airtime Rewards that allows her to earn cashback in specific shops, alongside a variety of other cashback schemes.
Lydia estimates searching for online discount codes on things she would have bought anyway and cashback save her £150 by the end of the year.
Nick Silverwood, head of festivities at Plusnet, said: “Many of us are looking forward to a much better Christmas with our loved ones than last year.
“But a larger Christmas celebration will likely come with a bigger price tag and it’s a good idea to plan for that cost now by making sure you are getting value on everyday purchases.”Internet Explorer Channel Network