A familiar face on our telly since the early noughties, Angellica Bell knows her stuff when it comes to saving money.
The 47 year old, who co-hosts Shop Smart Save Money on Channel 5, is sure about one thing this Christmas, it should be all about "making memories, not debt."
The mum of two is a huge fan of the festive season but believes that experiences and love should overshadow endless spending in the run up to the big day.
She told us: "We’re in a cost of living crisis in the UK. Families could consider not buying gifts and just being together, and eating. You really need to live for the moment and enjoy yourself."
From as far back as 2001 Angellica has felt passionately about educating others on taking a sensible approach to money. She hosted Short Change on CBBC alongside The Gadget Show’s Ortis Deley – a show that empowered young people on saving, money spending and getting value – and most recently joined forces with money expert Martin Lewis on his show, prompting the nation into paying their credit card balances off in full each month.
Angellica feels strongly about taking on debt – and said: "in a nutshell, don’t."
"What we don’t want is families to feel that pressure to get into unnecessary debt just to create this magical day. Then New Year creeps in – and so do the bills.
"We can get a little excited at this time of the year but tracking what you spend is vital. Choose time over money every time and just say no to gifts. Just be together."
But what if passing on the presents isn’t an option? "Be realistic. Just say, 'we’re all going to spend this amount of money on everybody,' then that way, everyone has a gift but no-one’s under pressure."
Memories of Christmas and the tradition and nostalgic touches are things that Angellica believes are the best bits about the festive period anyway.
"Doing a jigsaw together, the Christmas music playing in the background, just the memories and laughter sitting around the TV. Marking the Radio Times to make sure you catch your telly faves – those are valuable experiences that money can’t buy.
"Conversations over clutter, I say."
In the run up to Christmas, some might be tempted to push the boat out for their families no matter the cost and make some worrying financial decisions. Interest-free credit cards, short term loans and store cards are dangled like carrots in front of us, and it can be easy to go for a quick fix.
"I’m not a fan of credit cards," said Angellica. "It’s a difficult one and people can get themselves into a lot of trouble.
"You have to know how disciplined you are and make sure you work in those parameters – and not many- people can.
"I would never recommend a credit card but it’s about being realistic with who you are and your goals. I’d much rather advise to budget in the first place and plan before the big day."
Angellica also advises "budgeting, tracking income and expenditure" as much as possible.
"Maybe use January to take stock of all sorts of payments and cut them – have a financial clear out. Subscriptions you don’t use and other things that can be cancelled."
Looking further ahead into 2024, the star has plans for more relaxation, with some very homely pursuits on the cards.
"I’ve always wanted to crochet. My gran taught me when I was little and I haven’t done it since, then about two Christmases ago I got a crochet book and needle. I haven’t picked it up yet – but I will.
"Next year is about ticking off the things I really want to do."
Adding plans to study for a Masters degree "in history, politics or media", Angellica might have relaxing in mind but in reality, it sounds like she’ll be busier than ever.
"I love meeting people and my job allows me to do this – I’m very grateful – but I want to expand on my personal growth too. Going out and clubbing, just fun things.
"I want to meet more friends for lunch and enjoy renovating my house – which for now, is crazy!"
Angellica has just moved into her new home with husband and fellow TV presenter Michael Underwood and their two children, who she prefers to keep out of the limelight. It was built in 1860 and, she told us, needs "floor to ceiling" modernisation.
"They even found asbestos under the floorboards but it’s my dream home. I watch all those interior shows and it never seems so bad, until you’re living in it. But I’m determined to because I saved every penny for this and I don’t want to pay for a second home to live in.
"I’m not wasting those savings," she told us with a smile.
You’re an inspiration, Angellica!
Angellica’s top ways to save this Christmas
Food & drink
• If you have an air fryer, use it often to save electricity.
• Use frozen or canned food wherever possible.
• Look out for special offers – my local butcher already has a great price on meat so buy when you see a deal, then freeze.
• Batch cook to use every last bit of meat and veg. I love turkey soup or Christmas leftover hash.
• Buy cards and wrapping paper in the January sales for the following Christmas.
• Go reusable – pretty gift bags can be recycled every year.
• Make it traditional – bring out the same decorations year after year.
• Get crafting. There are brilliant ideas online – and get the kids and grandkids involved.
• Put aside spare change all year for a Christmas decor fund – it really adds up.
• Don’t wait for Black Friday or Cyber Monday – there are always deals to be found.
• Homemade gifts are the best. People love a thoughtful, personal present.
• Consider your store points for gifts. Cash pots, money back vouchers and points can be redeemed.
• Buy second hand – Vinted, eBay and Etsy offer great preloved gifts.
• Don’t shy away from regifting. It’s better to pass on the love than to waste the money.
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