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The big day is only a few weeks away and you may already be in a panic about your Christmas shopping. However, follow our 5 handy hints and you could save hundreds off your Christmas shopping bills. Buying your friends and family presents doesn’t need to cost the earth.

Research by YouGov has shown that the average person expects to spend over £600 on gifts for their loved ones at Christmas, but the actual figure might be even higher. Many people could struggle in the New Year because of overspending, so make sure you’re not one of them.

1. Set a budget

It is vital that before you hit the shops you work out exactly what you can afford to spend. Sticking to a budget per person can be tricky to begin with but once you’ve got the hang of it you’ll be wishing you’d been doing it for years.

2. Reduce the number of presents

Think back to all the people you bought presents for last Christmas. All too often we end up buying for a whole circle of friends or for every member of a particular family. Why not suggest doing a ‘Secret Santa’ with your friends instead? Buying for one friend instead of having to buy a present for everyone could save you a fortune. Alternatively you could have a no-adults rule and just buy presents for children.

3. Start early

The sooner you start shopping the better because you can take your time, not panic and find the best deals. If you love online shopping then consider signing up to TopCashBack or Quidco. These free sites let you earn cashback when shopping online at thousands of stores. Many stores run special offers in the run-up to Christmas too – so keep an eye out in the press and on TV to make sure you don’t miss out.

4. Get creative

Why not try making some presents for your loved ones this Christmas? Homemade presents can be great fun to make, they don’t cost the earth and people really appreciate the extra effort.

Draw some inspiration from Festive Fivers list of 50 amazing presents which cost £5 or less to make or buy.

5. Protect yourself

Remember when buying your bigger presents that the Section 75 rule of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 means that if you pay by credit card then you are protected if the company goes bust, the present is faulty or if it doesn’t arrive. To qualify, the present needs to cost between £100 and £30,000. However, this doesn’t apply if paying by debit card or cash.

It may therefore be worth paying with a credit card if you are confident you will be able to pay off your borrowing in full come January. If not, it could mean you pay more with a credit card than with other forms of lending. You need to remember that fees could apply for credit card services that you may not be used to with other forms of lending, so it is best to read and understand the small print before making any purchase.

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