Here are some low-budget but thoughtful alternatives to Christmas gifts

After the shopping madness of the last few days, it’s a good time to reflect on where our money is going, when it comes to gifts.

It’s a pleasure to get a surprise gift you love, and just as good to be the person who gives it.

But I think these rare successes are down to luck. More often than not, though the gesture is appreciated, the actual gift is left unused or worse, ends up in the bin.
The simple solution is to ask someone what they want.

You sacrifice the element of surprise, yet it’s a good trade-off. But with budgets tight this year you need to make sure you’re not just spending out of obligation. This can break down in two ways.

There are the gifts you want to buy, but spend based on what was spent on you last year.

Focus instead on what you can afford. It shouldn’t be tit for tat. And if funds are tight, or you think you’re wasting money, suggest a spending cap with friends and family. Or group together to buy one better present rather than a handful of smaller ones.

And there are the gifts we buy for people we hardly know anymore simply because we always have (often the pressies most likely to be generic).

Be bold here, and suggest a temporary amnesty where no one buys a present this year, breaking the traditional cycle of reciprocity.

Or if we believe the mantra ‘it’s the thought that counts’ then focus on what really does count, and take gift giving a step further.

Tomorrow is an international day known as Giving Tuesday, set up as the antidote to Black Friday. The idea is you give money, time, skills or items such as food and clothes to those in need.

I think this is a great action for us for the whole festive period. You don’t have to buy a gift. You can make something, or help with something.

Or just switch traditional presents for a donation to charity. I’d much rather know someone has given 20 quid’s- worth of tins to a food bank than get a well meaning, but ultimately unnecessary, gift.

Amazon ditches Visa – the best alternatives

If you currently use a Visa credit card to pay on Amazon, you will need to replace it with a different credit or debit card before January 19, 2022.

After this date those cards won’t be accepted.

The best alternative is actually a debit card from Chase Bank – you will earn 3% cashback at Amazon until December 31 and 1% afterwards (for a total of 12 months).

If you want the added consumer protection that comes with a credit card, then the Amazon Platinum card (Mastercard) will give Prime members 1.5% back at Amazon and a £40 voucher when you apply.

Just remember to clear the balance each month. You also might get paid to make this change. Look for an email or banner on Amazon offering a £10 voucher (£20 Prime) when you do.

Find the cashback best deal on Amazon alternatives

Chase Bank (Debit)

3% cashback at Amazon until 31 December 2021; £2 a month

American Express Nectar (Credit)

2 Nectar points per £1 spent anywhere (equivalent of 1%) ; None if you pay £1500to the account each month

Amazon Platinum (Credit)

1.5% cashback at Amazon for Prime members; None if you pay £1,500 into the account each month

Andy’s Who To Follow: Charlotte Jessop

I’m not convinced that TikTok is always a good place for finance, especially when 60 seconds means you miss out important context.

But it can work, and former teacher Charlotte Jessop has built up 57,000 followers on her @lookingafteryourpennies channel thanks to her simple and clear money tips.

Some of the best apps out there at the moment. Enjoy! #financeapp #makemoneyonlinefromhome #sidehustletips #moneymanangement

Charlotte’s top money tip

‘Over-55s can get a will drawn up free of charge this month. Just search for a participating solicitor near you via freewillsmonth.org.uk.

If you’re younger you can book now for Will Aid next month where you will pay £100 to charity – that is still a decent saving.’

Andy Webb is a award-winning blogger and podcaster from Be Clever With Your Cash

If you want more tips and tricks on saving money, as well as chat about cash and alerts on deals and discounts, join our Facebook Group, Money Pot.

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