We saved £1.5k for Christmas by using easy 1p saving challenges & sealed jars – here’s how you can too for 2021

14 mins read


HAD a tough financial year due to Covid? Don’t worry because we’ve got lots of simple tricks that will help you boost your Christmas budget. 

There’s a bunch of challenges and thrifty tricks to help you save money – without feeling like you’re even putting any cash aside. 

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Found yourself struggling to afford everything this Christmas? Savvy mums take us through their clever penny-a-day savings tips1[/caption]

Saving schemes such as the 365-day 1p challenge and the sealed jar trick are some of the most popular Christmas money-saving hacks. 

The Christmas shopping splurge affects everyone and can leave people feeling financially hungover but the ‘penny challenge’ makes the most of any spare coppers. 

It starts on 1 January and runs for a full 12-months – all you have to do is put away a penny on the first day and it gradually increases to pounds as the year goes on. 

Mums are using this clever saving tactic to spread the cost of Christmas across 365 days

How jar will you go?

You will need to increase the amount you put in by another penny every day. For example:

Day 1: Put in £0.01

Day 2: Put in £0.02

Day 3: Put in £0.03

When you reach 100 days, keep doing the same thing but you’ll need to add a £1 coin each day too.

Day 100: Put in £1.00

Day 101: Put in £1.01

Day 102: Put in £1.02

By day 200 you’ll be adding in two pound coins as well as your pennies, and by day 300 you’ll be sticking at least £3 in the jar every day.

You should have £671.61 on 31 December if you stick to it.

Crackers Christmas savings

Clare Murray from Wiltshire says she has been using the 365 day challenge for years and uses it for present buying throughout the year as well as treats such as spa days. 

Facebook user Clare Murray explained her parents were able to pay for their entire shop with loose change, vouchers and saving stamps

The civil servant said: ‘I have done the 365 challenge for several years now so it’s become a habit and it’s quite easy.

‘You save approx £1.80 a day over 365 days so I normally save between £609 and £700 a year. I print a sheet out with 1 to 365 on it and cross out each day as I put the coins in!’ 

Lia Jones, 53, admitted she pops all her money in a sealed jar

But Lisa Jones goes one step further and instead of using the 365 day challenge, she uses a sealed tin to save money for Christmas presents. 

The 53-year-old retired nurse and midwife from Thanet shared her tip in the Scrimping on a Budget Facebook group.

She wrote: ‘Sealed tin works here. We can’t get easy access so tend not to bother trying to open it. Also keep it out of view of you and others. Out of sight and out of mind!’ 

Lisa said: ‘I found the idea to save money in a sealed jar after chatting to a friend who used it. 

Some swear by physical piggy banks while others go for online savings ‘jars’

‘It really helps us as we cannot access inside the jar so it stays “saved”. We saved £432 in one tin!’

Elsewhere another Facebook user admitted they have a separate savings account that they use for Christmas and another said she leaves her ‘sealed savings tin’ at her mum’s house. 

While another thrifty fan said she ‘cashed out’ £530 two weeks before Christmas after using the 1p challenge for nearly 12 months. 

This user wasn’t the only one who found completing the challenge in reverse more effective. 

Mum-of-two Ruth, 41, revealed she does the savings challenge in reverse because she feels like December is a ‘poor’ month. 

Ruth has been doing the 1p-a-day challenge for three years since having her first child

She has been completing the 1P-a-day challenge since 2017 after having her first child. 

Ruth said: ‘I found it hard due to being on maternity leave to have funds for Christmas, I saw on a savings and budget group on Facebook a 1P-a-day challenge to save for Christmas.

‘I put together a spreadsheet but because I knew December was a poor month, I reversed the challenge so that the most money would be found in the earlier months of the year.

‘In 2019, I doubled the total because I had two children, but it was lovely having the amount of money just to splash out on Christmas.”

Salman Haqqi, personal finance expert at money.co.uk said: ‘This year has been extremely tough for many people’s finances, and with Christmas fast approaching you may be thinking about how you can manage your money and where you can save a few pounds. 

Easy savings spreadsheets like these can be easily found online and followed throughout the year

‘One of the best ways to manage your finances at Christmas is to set a budget.

‘There are several free online budgeting templates and tools, which can keep track of your income and outgoings to help you take control of your spending all year round.

‘Separating your finances into pots or envelopes – literally or digitally – will also help you ensure you stick to your budget and don’t end up spending too much.’

Get a head start

Christine Smith, 51, from Northumberland said she uses Pingit jars to save money for Christmas. 

She wrote on Facebook: ‘My Christmas saving tip. I have a Pingit with my bank for transferring money, in the app there’s an option to set up “jars” to save. 

‘Last year I started a Christmas jar but you can have multiple. I go to the app and transfer the odd pence over a few times a week.’

Christine uses Pingit to keep money stashed away in online savings jars
Explaining her savings technique on Facebook, Christine detailed why she uses online savings jars

She told us that she found the app accidentally and wasn’t looking for a savings method but it has come in handy over the years, especially at Christmas. 

Christine said: ‘I’ve used Pingit throughout lockdown to transfer money to family when they’ve done shopping for me.

‘I saw the option for Pingit jars and thought I’d give it a go. As it is, it has worked out brilliantly for me. I can transfer as and when I want, and as much or little as I want. 

‘Generally I’ll stick to the odd bit of change, but it’s amazing how quickly it adds up.

‘I haven’t used it for Christmas presents this year as I decided I’d carry on saving and treat myself to a new phone in the New Year – Christmas present to me!’

Lindsay Tyman was thrilled to save a whopping £715 with her savings tin challenge

While Lindsay Tyman, from Warwickshire competed the 365-day money saving challenge – just in time for Christmas and saved £715.00 

She started it because she was taking on extra shifts at the bar of the hotel she worked at for Christmas money while her parents looked after her two children. 

She would get home at 3am while her partner, who works as a chef, was also always working extra long hours in December.  

The mother said: ‘This year I decided if I could save all that money in a tin throughout the year, then it would basically equate to what I would have earned working on the bar. 

Get a head start on Xmas 2021

January is the perfect time to pick up one of these saving schemes – whether it’s the 365-day penny challenge or the sealed jar trick – you can start boosting your balance instantly. 

There’s another simple trick which can increase your piggy bank by almost £1,500 in just 12 months – but it requires saving larger sums of cash each day.

Save the following amounts each day:

Sunday – £1

Monday – £2

Tuesday – £3

Wednesday – £4

Thursday – £5

Friday – £6

Saturday – £7

Weekly total – £28

Yearly total – £1,456

If you stick to the daily targets, you’ll put aside £1,456 by the end of the year – a huge amount to get you through the expensive Christmas period. 

There’s also lots of apps you can download which help you budget properly and save a fortune over the year. 

Monzo, Surreal and Chip are effective budgeting apps while Facebook users in money-saving groups refer to Pingit for setting up virtual Christmas saving jars. 

‘Sometimes I would put £30 or £40 in, and I’d only be ticking off a few boxes! When lockdown hit I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it as my partner had zero work and I was furloughed. 

‘I have finished Christmas shopping for my girls and am ready for Christmas to begin. Good job I started it because there would have been no bar shifts to rely on in December 2020. 

‘I will 100% be doing it again next year!’


For more money saving ideas, we brought you easy swaps to save dosh on your Christmas dinner while still cooking up a feast & why you should raid the freezer aisle.

Elsewhere, money-saving tips to help you save a fortune online this Christmas – including how to avoid costly delivery fees.

Plus one mum is only giving second-hand or homemade gifts & wrapping everything in newspaper – Christmas has cost her just £87.



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