May your bank account be merry and bright
It’s the same every year. July comes and Christmas is still months away.
Cue Christmas chaos buying, and it doesn’t come cheap. Shopping in a frenzy with high expectations will almost certainly mean a gift and entertainment budget blowout, with unintended debt created and no good plan to pay it off.
It’s a spending hangover Australians can do without. The average Aussie spends about $1,200* on Christmas, and with the costs of goods and services on the rise, our money saving tips will give you the Christmas joy you want without the added costs you don’t.
Make a list and check it twice
Write down who you are buying for, and the maximum spend per person. This amount should include funds to cover things like wrapping paper and cards, which add up and can put unexpected pressure on your budget.
Now check the list again asking these two questions; Do I really need to buy gifts for everyone on this list, and if the answer is yes, could I spend 10 percent less on each gift without sacrificing on quality? Your bank account will welcome that extra $5 or $10 saved per gift, and your present will still please – everyone’s a winner.
And while we’re talking about savings, keep that extra cash in a mortgage offset account, which will help to reduce your monthly interest.
Consider all expenses
Gifts can be expensive, but so is being a festive host. Even if everyone brings a dish or bottle to share, the bells and whistles that make a Christmas celebration sparkle can leave your bank account swept clean. Write down everything you’ll need and make sure this is part of the budget to stop nasty surprises. You could also ask your guests to bring an extra item.
Get in early
Don’t leave it until Christmas Eve to shop. Start right now to look for specials and bargains, and keep your eye out for major online shopping events, which could save you heaps. Convert credit card reward points into gift cards and shop. While we’re talking gift cards, you could also spend those unused gift cards now on presents, turning credit into cash.
Who says you need to buy gifts? Let your creativity flow and hand make your presents. They’re thoughtful and often cheaper ways of showing appreciation. Let your kids contribute by making wrapping paper and cards.
Give the gift of time. Draw up a gift voucher for gardening or other domestic jobs so that loved ones can enjoy their time as they wish.
Spend a little more buying one excellent gift rather than a lot more money buying a gift for everyone with a Secret Santa. Or do a kid only gift exchange and be happy with a champagne toast and company on Christmas Day.
Find cheaper ways to celebrate
If you’re catching up with friends, swap dinner for a picnic, or a beach or nature walk for drinks. This way, you can spend time with the ones you love without sacrificing your budget (or the gift you give them).
Remember, be truthful with yourself about how much you can spend and stay motivated to stick to that budget. A little blowout may happen, but remain on track to have a happy holiday season with sacrificing any ho ho ho.
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