December’s got to be the hardest month of the year for making your money last as it is, and after the past few years through Covid and the recent news about increases to home energy bills, more people than ever are feeling the pinch.

So whilst we can’t help you magic a few extra grand to get you through the festive period, we hope this round-up might help you to stretch your cash a bit further this December.

Reducing Energy Bills

If you’ve watched or heard any news in the last month you’ll know that gas prices have soared.

There are many factors as to why this has happened but the important thing to note is that this is a global issue affecting wholesale gas prices.

This means that switching suppliers will likely not help to lower your bills as it usually would – all the energy companies are in the same boat.

So, with that cheery thought in mind – how else can you fight against the rising Gas & electric bills over the coming months?

1. The timer is King. Your heating should be off overnight and when you’re not at home. If you are home during the day, switch off radiators and close the doors of unused rooms to concentrate the heat to the areas you’re using.

2. Layer up. At the risk of sounding like my mum…put a jumper on! Turning the thermostat down just 1 degree can save £55 a year in heating costs – so a few degrees cooler and an extra layer could really make a difference.  

3. Cover your cracks! Draught-proofing your home can save £30 a year in heating bills. These could come from floorboards, fireplaces, doors, windows, and anywhere where things come into the home such as pipework.

To find cracks, look for light around doors or window edges, moving curtains, and spend some time to be aware of any distinctive draughts you can feel around your home.

As a quick fix – a rolled-up towel at the front door can make a huge difference. You can buy foam strips for window draughts and put up heavy curtains, and box in any gaps on your fireplace.

4. Always fill the load. Doing one less Washing machine and Dishwashing cycle a week saves £18 a year.

Source: Energy saving trust


Reducing your Christmas Gift Shopping budget

Let’s be honest, after 2021’s cancelled Christmas, we all deserve to be swinging naked from chandeliers with a glass of bubbly all December this year – WE EARNT IT!

But the wallet and the wish list don’t always add up, so a few santa swaps are in order…

1. Do a Secret Santa. If your family all buy gifts for each other, why not set a budget, put names in a hat, and commit to buying just one gift. It takes the pressure off of Christmas shopping, and seriously reduces the amount you need to spend.

And let’s be honest – it really is the time together that counts at Christmas, not the Boots 3 for 2 gift set that your aunt Sue gets you every year! This free website will even do the Secret Santa draw for you in the name of fairness.

2. Kids almost never notice if something is second hand! Try Ebay and charity shops for toys for younger kids. Bundles of Paw patrol toys and a full lego city set (complete with box and instructions!) are just a few of the great finds I’ve had over the years on Ebay.

Putting unboxed toys into a gift box full of tissue paper or popcorn is a really fun way to disguise their unboxiness.

For older kids, Cex is a good place for computer games and gadgets. And if you’re unfortunate enough to have been asked for a phone by one of your cherubs – Amazon have ‘Good as new’ phones complete with warranty for a fraction of the price of a new one.

They will sometimes come without a box, so you can go for a decoy wrapping option like above, or put the call out to your friends and family for an old box for the same make!

3. Get swappin’. December isn’t the time to be a brand snob! Swap the Baileys for an Aldi’s ‘Irish Cream‘ for a 50% saving on price and, according to which, not a lot of difference in taste. The same goes for lots of different spirits, wines and beers, as well as mince pies, nibbles and party food (Mums go to Iceland where that last one’s concerned I can confirm!).

4. Cook smart. The average household spent between £26 and £42 per person just for Christmas dinner in 2020. A few ways to cut that down:

    • Buy your turkey early in the month and freeze it if you have the space, it’s much cheaper than fresh.
    • As overdoing it is one of the main culprits of the Christmas spend – plan how much you actually need in advance of shopping.
      This will help you to avoid the common ‘supermarket sweep’ style shop where you deliberate over 1 or 2 packs of pigs in blankets for Christmas lunch and decide that, in fact, you probably need 6 packs for the four of you ‘just in case’.
    • Love your leftovers – Mash up your roast potatoes and veg, fry with bacon and top with fried eggs for the perfect boxing day Bubble & Squeak breakfast, and use your leftover turkey in a salad or curry a few days after the Christmas binge.


**Source: Money advice service


Reducing the cost of Festive Entertainment for kids

December is the time we like to treat ourselves, meet up with friends we haven’t seen for ages, and take the kids out for festive treats. That COULD all cost a small fortune but we’ve got some thoughts on that too…

  1. Have a fun evening out with the kids for free watching the Fireworks at Southend Seafront They’re on every Saturday evening at 7:30pm and there’s lots of information here.
  2. Visit the Trust links Christmas Fayre in Westcliff.
  3. Winter Wonderland at Garon park is a jam-packed Christmas event with Free entry. 
  4. If you don’t have kids, get friends round for drinks and nibbles (see the brand swaps above and suggest everyone bring a snack!) instead of meeting in the pub, and dance around the lounge!

Above all, enjoy making memories with those closest to you.

Jo xx


If your money struggles are getting serious…

Especially if you are struggling to pay your Mortgage, Rent or Bills, please seek help sooner rather than later. Citizens Advice has lots of helpful resources and should be the first port of call.

I’m Joanne. I’ve lived and breathed property for longer than I care to remember! This blog is to provide advice and support with problems surrounding property, and life in general.

Previously on the blog…

Case Study: I can’t bear packing up my sister’s home.

Case Study: I can’t bear packing up my sister’s home.

A lovely lady had inherited her Sister’s house in Westcliff after she sadly passed away - a bungalow with serious damp problems.   Lucy’s case at a glance: Inherited a property from her sister Couldn't afford to keep the property running Didn’t understand the...

read more


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