How to find some extra money for Christmas

Andy Webb 4 December 2021

Christmas is the hardest time of the year to save or build on your finances, but it's possible

In any year December is going to be an expensive month, but I think 2021 is going to be even tougher to afford thanks to likely shortages and inflation leading to higher prices. And let’s not forget the huge energy price hikes also squeezing budgets.

So what do you do if there’s less money to spend and everything costs more? Well, you know as well as I do that you shouldn’t spend more than you have. But it doesn’t have to mean buying fewer presents or scaling back the Christmas dinner (though that’s not a bad idea if you always end up with too much food and drink).

Instead you could look to boost your existing festive spending power. All the suggestions below make the most of your normal spending or access potential funds you might have neglected.

The extra money you can make might not be enough to really splash the cash, but it could help you make up for those rising costs elsewhere.

As we’re already approaching the big day you might not actually receive the money from some of them before you need to spend it, but at least you’ll have an extra buffer throughout 2022.

Earn cashback

This is one of my favourite ways to make some money - you just need to change the way you pay. With cashback you are paid when you spend cash. As long as you don’t use this as an excuse to spend more, it’s effectively free money.

There are a couple of options. You could look at a cashback debit or credit card. The best ongoing rate is from the new Chase Bank current account. For the first 12 months you’ll get 1% back on most of your purchases. For the average household that could add up to around £150 a year. However it is an app-only bank so you’ll need a smartphone to open and manage your account.

A higher initial rate is available for new American Express cardholders, with boosted welcome bonuses worth £100 to £150 as long as you spend a few grand in the first three months. Some cards will pay out the bonus earlier than others.

To be qualify for this extra offer you can’t have had a personal American Express credit card in the last 24 months. Make sure you check your eligibility on their website before applying.

The other way to earn cashback is via a website such as Quidco or TopCashback. You need to visit these sites to search for the retailer you want to use, for example Marks & Spencer or Boots. You’ll see the rate on offer displayed. Click through from the cashback site to the retailer’s online website and shop as normal. It can take a while for your earnings to be confirmed, so it won’t be an instant money maker - but it quickly adds up.

And best of all you can combine both cashback on your card with shopping via cashback sites to boost your earnings.

Switch banks

Though deals come and go, one way banks entice customers to open up new current accounts with them is through huge switching bonuses. These usually range between £100 and £150, and payment can be in your account as fast as 10 days or take as long as three or four months.

To get the money you’ll need to open a new account with the bank offering the bonus and then complete a full switch from another current account. This will mean closing down your old account completely. As part of the process your money in and out of the old account will be transferred for you.

You’ll always need to read the terms and conditions for each switching deal. Some will also require a couple of Direct Debits, or perhaps a regular deposit into the new account.

Look for forgotten money

A quicker way to access some spending is to look for any balances sitting around on unused cards and forgotten accounts that you can access now. Start with old savings accounts and even extra current accounts. There could be the odd extra quid or two sitting around in these neglected accounts.

Take a look at your bills to see if you’ve overpaid, and make sure any credit due from when you switched away from old providers was actually sent to you.

Another common place to look is any kind of loyalty scheme. If you haven’t checked for a while there could be a healthy amount sitting there for you to spend on Christmas. The same applies if you’re already using the cashback sites mentioned above.

Make sure you root through your wallet for any forgotten gift cards or prepaid cards. Though sometimes these balances expire if unused for a year to two, you might strike lucky. The same applies to old Oyster cards which you probably haven’t used since contactless became the norm.

While you’re looking, see if there is any foreign currency at the back of a drawer which you’re not needing. Swap that back into sterling for more cash to spend now.

And log on to any websites where you’ve been sent a refund. Sometimes this could be sitting in your online account.

Sell old things

It’s also a good opportunity to look for anything around the home which you don’t need anymore. Anything in decent nick will sell for money money, but even broken and damaged items can sell.

Sites like eBay and Depop are obvious places to start, but look for local selling groups on Facebook Marketplace to avoid fees.

Plan your spending

Finally, you might be able to free up some extra cash by simply paying more attention to where your money is going.

Go through your statements, or even better put all your spending into a spreadsheet, to look for outgoings costing more than you realised.

You might not be able to streamline all your spending, but if there’s any that can be trimmed back you can reprioritise this money for other priorities.

 

Follow Andy Webb on Twitter for more expert tips and advice

 

Read more: 11 ways to keep home energy bills down

Read more: What high inflation means for you

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