Save up safely for next Christmas...

Tuesday 29th Nov, 2022

Beware the deadly 'didlum'

Do you know what a didlum is?  If you’re from the North of England, you probably will. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it’s ‘a savings scheme in which members of a particular group deposit a regular sum throughout the year with a nominated treasurer who shares out the money at Christmas.’

Years ago, didlums were widespread – in the workplace, at the pub, among neighbours in your street or terrace; they were the main way that people put some cash out of temptation’s way for that big annual spending spree – Christmas.  Apparently, the name is based on the notion that those running them might cheat on the members (‘diddle them’) – it’s a Northern humour way of warning people to take care!  There are still didlum clubs around, but it’s worth bearing in mind they are unregulated and so offer little protection if anything does go wrong.

Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, reckons the average family Christmas costs around £800, so we’d certainly agree with him that saving up for it in advance is a great plan.  If you work out what Christmas cost you last year then divide that by the number of weeks or months until the next one it gives you an idea how much you should aim to set aside.   Just £10 per week saved up from New Year onwards would give you around £500 to ease the festive stress.  So what are the options?

You could always stash it a jam jar or tin box under the bed.  But if you’re serious about Christmas saving, you really need to put the money out of reach, otherwise it’s easy to ‘dip in’ when unexpected bills arrive or you fancy a treat. There’s also the risk of having your hard-earned savings stolen.

Supermarket savings stamps are easy to buy when you go shopping.  Some give a bonus when you fill the card.  Remember, though, that you’ll have to spend whatever you’ve saved at that store, so it limits your ability to shop around for the best bargains.

Hamper clubs used to be popular.  But Christmas was ruined for thousands of families one year when a well-known club collapsed and people discovered they were not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.  Although those running these clubs say they have a voluntary code of practice and keep the funds in a separate trust, there’s no absolute guarantee you’d get the full amount back if they went under.  There may also be cancellation fees if you change your mind after signing up. Such schemes give gift cards, not cash, which poses another risk if the retailer you’ve got them for goes bust, or if you lose the cards or their expiry date has passed.   Cash is much better.


For a safer option, why not consider saving with your local credit union? 

  • Credit unions, just like banks and building societies, are fully regulated and members of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.  If their business failed, savers would get back 100% of their savings up to £85,000. 
  • Unlike banks and building societies, they offer a special Christmas Saver account that encourages the self-discipline of regularly putting money aside that can’t be touched until 1 November. 
  • They are not run for profit and offer a choice of ways to pay in (including from benefits), as little or as much as you wish, at frequencies to match your income. 
  • Often they pay a useful bonus (the “dividend”) on all savings at the end of the year. 
  • Money can be drawn by transfer to your bank or in cash, so can be spent wherever you wish. 
  • A Credit Union Christmas Saver ticks all the boxes, which may explain why HEY Credit Union’s account gets more popular every year.

Planning ahead to make the Christmas bash stress-free by saving up is a great idea.  But we’d caution everyone to at least choose a safe option so that there’s no chance for anyone to ‘didlum’.

Christmas Saver


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