It’s not called the silly season for nothing. The end of the year presents a delicate balancing act between having fun, being generous and not starting the new year with a financial headache. It’s even more challenging if you’re a casual or contract employee as you’re earning less income while your expenses struggle to remain stable. To help you out over this period, here are our top tips for a more affordable Christmas so you can start the new year in a better position financially.
Set a budget
Set a budget for each area of spending, including gifts, food, drinks and decorations. For example, with presents decide what’s reasonable to spend on each person and be strict with dismissing anything that’s over budget.
Buy your presents now
How many times have you been running around shopping for gifts at the last minute, only to find that what you’ve brought is cheaper somewhere else or spending way more than you wanted to because you were rushed? If you get in early you can take advantage of sales, online deals and avoid the Christmas Eve panic.
Some people do a better job controlling their spending when they use cold hard cash, rather than putting it on the plastic. If you’re heading out for a Christmas celebration, take some cash with you and leave the cards behind. If you only want to spend $100 on a night out, only take $100 with you. As a bonus you’re less likely to wake up with a hangover too!
Use apps to track your spend
Christmas is the perfect time to download a budgeting app like PocketBook. Simply upload your transactional banking data into this app and let it track what you’re spending your money on. If you’ve ever been shocked by the size of a credit card bill, this will give you advanced warning of overspending so you can do something about it before it’s too late.
Plan for next year
If your spending has already burst out of control this year, don’t despair. Learn from the experience and get into good habits so that you’re better prepared for next year. Keep a track of your spend this Christmas, then afterwards divide that figure by 52 for the amount you need to set aside each week. Also take advantage of sales during the year to buy presents at discounted prices and plan your holiday earlier so that you get cheaper flights and accommodation deals.