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Smart Consumer: 10 ways to save money and still make merry this Christmas – Irish Independent 03/12/2009

We may all have less disposable cash this Christmas but that doesn’t have to mean we’ll have a miserable one.

As the decade closes we may recall the giddy highs of thinking we could, and should, buy whatever we want — the scramble to buy property at inflated prices and the knowing we were paying over the odds for everything but the feeling there was nothing we could do.

Now we know there is something we can do. Shopping around makes sense. Collectively asking for better prices and a better service can bring results.

With that in mind, here are 10 things you can do to save money this Christmas:

1 Before you head to the supermarket to do your Christmas grocery shopping, check one of the many useful websites out there to find out what special offers are available that week.

Then plan your shopping, make a list and stick to it. Take a look at www.valueireland.ie, www.cheapeats.ie, www.mydeal.ie and www.smartshopper.ie.

2 It’s your choice as to whether you shop in the big multiples or discounters North or South of the Border and no one should tell you otherwise.

If you do feel a patriotic twinge, buying local produce could make a difference.

Check out your nearest farmers’ market, visit your independent grocery stores and producers and ask local farmers about buying direct.

3 Sales are no longer the preserve of the New Year. Visit the Kildare Village outlet for permanent discounts of up to 60pc or The Outlet in Banbridge for permanent discounts up to 70pc, where Southerners account for an amazing 80pc of sales recorded.

Take a look at www.thesavvyshopper.ie for updates on special offers and ask about pre-Christmas sale days in your favourite high street stores.

For example, Easons is offering 50pc off its ‘best books of the season’ and have free deliveries on orders over €25 when you buy online at www.eason.ie.

4 Shopping online can be great but you need to be organised so remember to check the latest order dates for Christmas deliveries.

Shop via www.bethrifty.ie and get cash back to your own account every time you buy something.

Buy discounted cosmetics on www.strawberrynet.com and search eBay for unused toys. www.amazon.co.uk are offering free delivery on most items when you spend more then £25.

If you need extra guidance, take a look at An Post’s new shopping directory, where discounts are also offered, at www.shoppingdirectory.ie.

5 If you don’t want to or can’t spend money on some things, then visit your nearest swap shop to exchange unwanted clothes for a whole new look.

Deck out your home with free unwanted furniture and other bits and pieces from www.gumtree.ie, where you can also buy second hand and swap. Also check www.barter-it.ie and www.swapbunny.com.

6 Don’t throw out old discs and spend on getting replacements, get them repaired.

CDs, DVDs and games can be repaired at €5.99 per disc by www.discrepair.ie with free postage from anywhere in the country.

They charge €6 but you pay to post it, so if you’re in the Cork area, bring your broken discs and games to the www.corkcomputerclinic.ie at their Cork city and Midleton stores.

7 You may want to cut back on going out to save money but when you do go out, plan it by checking out the special deals in restaurants and hotels.

Take a look at www.cheapeats.ie for café and restaurant deals and www.feelingfrugal.ie for special deals on hotels, golf and spas. Another new site is www.tipoff.ie where you can register to get texts about deals and discounts in your chosen areas of interest — from restaurants and concert tickets to sporting events.

8 You should always compare prices while you wander around shops and it’s worth doing it online as well. Check out www.compareireland.ie and www.compare.ie to see if they have different prices listed for what you’re after.

9 You’re going to be talking and texting more over Christmas and New Year so make sure you’re on the right tariff with the right provider for your needs.

Analyse your bill to see how many minutes of calls you make and how many texts, to what networks and when.

Then input the details to www.callcosts.ie to see which provider has the best deal for you.

10 With money tight, make sure to budget. Make a present list along with prices, then try to stick to it and avoid impulse buys.

Use cash, not your credit card, unless you are sure you can repay it in full in January and avoid ‘buy now, pay later’ schemes as you’re only postponing the debt.

Tina Leonard

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