Christmas savings clubs - what are they all about?
It's not too early to start planning for Christmas 2018...
It may feel like Christmas has only just come and gone, but if you found yourself under pressure with all the expense, it might be a a good idea to start thinking about planning for Christmas 2018 now, so you don’t end up in the same situation later this year.
One simple way is to put some money into a savings account each month. However, another popular option, which can help you ensure your savings go towards your Christmas expenses, is to sign up to a savings club. Here are some of the most popular ones in Ireland…
Park Christmas savings club
You may have seen ads for Park on the TV, but perhaps you’re not sure about how it all works. It’s actually very straightforward - you just need to head to the Park Christmas Savings Ireland and create an account.
Then, you choose the gift cards you’d like to receive to spend on everyone’s presents (everything from Boots to Super Valu is available). You could also decide to order food or drink hampers, or you could save up for a Prepaid MasterCard, but bear in mind there’s a 10% service charge on these orders.
When everything you want is ordered, Park will calculate how much you need to save per week/month in order to pay off all of your items by Christmas. There are loads of ways to pay, including by Standing Order or online using a credit or debit card.
Once your account is fully paid, Park will send out your voucher/gift card orders during November 2018. Meanwhile, any frozen meat or freezer hampers will be delivered by 15 December.
Tesco Clubcard Christmas Savers
If you have a Tesco Clubcard already, you’ll know that you receive statements with Clubcard vouchers every three months. But did you know that you can opt to receive all of your vouchers for the year in one go at Christmas instead? This could be a good way to get a boost towards your Christmas food shop.
All you need to do is log in to your Clubcard account on Tesco.ie and go to ‘Account Management’ and then ‘Voucher Schemes’ - in that section, simply select ‘Christmas Savers’ and click on ‘Choose scheme’. Once you’ve done that, you’ll then receive your vouchers in one go in November to use towards your Christmas shopping.
And, if you don’t think the vouchers will be substantial enough, you can also top-up your account with your own money in store at the checkout and the Customer Service Desk - from €0.50 to €360 - and this amount will be converted to points in your account and added to the ones you’ve accumulated.
Even adding €5 into your account each time you do your weekly shop would rack up €200 extra between now and the middle of November, which could be a big help. And if you top up by €50, you’ll also get a €3 bonus - every little helps!
flex-e-card Christmas savings club
With flex-e-card you can start a savings club of your own - either for yourself or with your a group of friends or colleagues.
You just need to:
- Go to the flex-e-card site, click on ‘Gift clubs - savings clubs’ and sign up.
- Deposit a minimum of €5.00 into the club to activate your account.
- Set a savings goal and - when you have reached it - you can redeem your balance either in one of the shopping centres or online.
The centres that you can spend at include Eyre Square in Galway, Fairgreen in Carlow, Mac Donagh Junction in Kilkenny and Shop LK in Letterkenny.
Do I need to be wary of Christmas saving clubs?
It’s important to be careful before signing up to anything like this. Savings clubs aren’t generally regulated, and so you won’t be covered if they go out of business - unlike savings accounts in regulated institutions, which are covered by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme.
Most of the savings clubs say that customer payments are held in independent trusts. If you’re unsure, you’re probably best to sign up with a well-established club, so you can be confident that the money you’re putting away is safe.
Savings clubs not for you?
If these savings clubs don’t sound like they’re for you, why not do something a little more simple? Buy a moneybox and at the end of each day put any coins from your wallet in there. It won’t be long adding up, and you can count it all up in November and use it towards your Christmas expenses.
The most important thing is to start planning and budgeting now to avoid becoming overwhelmed with expense when Christmas rolls around.