How to save money in France this Christmas

Stretch your budget this Christmas (©Gettyy/iamnoonmai)

Stretch your budget this Christmas (©Gettyy/iamnoonmai) - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Save money on Christmas shopping by using coupons from French supermarkets and you can feast without guilt and maybe even get a trolley full of freebies!

Laura will be enjoying champagne this Christmas

Laura will be enjoying champagne this Christmas - Credit: Archant

It’s incredible to think that in a few short weeks we will be celebrating Christmas 2020, and in ways that perhaps we could not have anticipated. Some of us might be in an unexpected place in terms of work availability and income, so it strikes me that frugality – at a time of year when it might feel very tempting to practise retail therapy – could be useful.

This year though, I’m not going to suggest that we buy mousseux instead of champagne. Because if the Covid-19 pandemic has taught me anything, it’s how important it is to find a balance between really enjoying the present and living the life that we have now – and practising a level of financial prudence for life yet to come. Perhaps we can allow ourselves to burn that expensive candle or drink some excellent wine, all the while being kind to our future selves by not spending the entirety of our life savings on Sancerre!

So if we’re going to maintain quality and live frugally, then it’s time to get inventive. Fortunately, my time in French lockdown gave me the space to do some serious research into refining that balance and to that end, I’ve been making friends over in the French money-saving Facebook groups to bring you frugality with a French twist.

Get canny with coupons

Get canny with coupons - Credit: Archant

HOW DO THE FRENCH SAVE MONEY?

I’m seeing my new online friends becoming more and more interested in the use of couponing to pay for their shopping. Many have developed ways to ‘game’ the system where their purchases are so discounted that the supermarket ends up paying them to buy them. If you’ve ever seen the TV show Extreme Couponing, imagine this, with more tarte au citron and pastis!

WHAT’S THEIR SECRET?

Check the advertised offers from French supermarkets

Check the advertised offers from French supermarkets - Credit: Archant

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Organisation – the French couponers find the monthly offers which arrive in the ‘publicité’ delivered to their boîte aux lettres and combine these deals with coupons which they obtain from either the product brands themselves or through coupon printing websites such as enviedeplus.com.

By stacking these promotions they can be the recipient of a ‘bénéfice’, or earn a reimbursement on their loyalty card. This means their next shop is paid for by the supermarket!

HOW CAN WE JOIN THEM?

Christmas luxuries are often included in promotions

Christmas luxuries are often included in promotions - Credit: Archant

Check the supermarket advertising which you receive for offers on the things which might usually be off your frugal-radar, and check coupon groups and websites for ‘bons de réductions’ which can be stacked, considerably bringing down the price.

It’s common for offers on decadent foods like shellfish, cured meats, dried fruits and oysters to be promoted around the festive season. If through a little work you can find relevant coupons to bring down your overall cost, then you too may be able to have a more extravagant-feeling Christmas this year without spending more than usual.

This year, I plan to spend Christmas day at home in France with my husband and our pets with Christmas music filling the kitchen and a saucer of champagne in hand. Our habit of grazing our way through indulgent French food will perhaps this year be a little lighter on the pocket, and we can video-call with friends and family wishing for a very different, but consistently frugal 2021.

Meilleurs voeux pour la nouvelle année!

Laura Harley moved from Bristol to France in 2018. She blogs about her budget-conscious life in Limousin at frugalfrance.com

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