12 ways to save this Christmas

It isn’t 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.  To help you out over this period, here are our top tips for a more affordable Christmas.

1. 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.

2. Make a list and check it twice

Be well prepared like Santa and plan in advance what gifts you’re buying your loved ones. It will help you stick to your budget and you’ll be less likely to overspend because you were in a last-minute rush and desperate to find something. Deciding what you’re going to buy in advance also helps you shop around for the best deals.

3. Shop early

How many times have you been running around shopping for gifts at the last minute, only to find that what you’ve bought is cheaper elsewhere? If you get in early you can avoid Christmas Eve panic and take advantage of sales and online promotions. One of the biggest sale events of the year, Black Friday, is coming up this Friday, 29 November, and is a great time to get the best deals.

4. Shop online

For some people, the madness of Christmas shopping gets too much.  They wind up overspending just to escape the mall. If you think you’re at risk of falling victim, it might be a good idea to shop online from the comfort of home. If you’re relaxed you’re more likely to take your time and spend consciously. It’s much easier to compare products and prices between retailers too.  Plus you can take advantage of online coupons and cashback websites, like Cashrewards, that aren’t available instore.

5. Pay cash

Some people do a better job at 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!

6.  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.

7. Set rules

If you and those around you want to be more conscious about your spending, why not suggest doing Secret Santa in lieu of individual gifts for everyone.  Alternatively, you could decide to buy gifts for children only. Consider that people might be happy with setting a spend limit on Christmas presents too.

8.  Avoid credit

If you don’t have enough cash aside this Christmas, don’t be tempted to put it all on the credit card or use a buy now pay later service such as Afterpay. Instead, consider generating some extra cash to fund the additional expenses this time of year brings. Spring clean your house and sell those items that you no longer need or value. Do some online market research. Or why not sign up as an Uber driver to take advantage of the crowds needing a lift home from their festive celebrations.

9. Ease entertaining expense

The expense of the festive season is not just in the presents – entertaining can strain the budget too. If you’re hosting, ask others to bring drinks, nibbles, cheeses or dessert. It will make the day easier and more enjoyable for you too. Plan carefully, it’s easy to go overboard with a lot of leftover food ending up in the bin. If you do have leftovers, think of creative ways to turn them into additional meals for the days following such as pies, quiches and salads.  Also, buy what you can as it comes on special.  If you’ve banked up a lot of loyalty credits such as Flybuys or Woolworths Rewards, now could be a good time to use them.

10. Rent your home out

If you’re heading away over the holiday season, consider renting out your home on Airbnb. Depending on your home’s size, features and location, renting could even fund your holiday!

11. 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.  Plan your holiday earlier so that you get cheaper flights and accommodation deals.

12. Consider those going without

This final tip might not help you save as such, but it might make your life that little bit richer.  Don’t forget to spread the Christmas cheer by remembering those who are really doing it tough. Sadly, thousands of kids will go without receiving a gift this Christmas, simply because their families can’t afford it.  This year, Financial Spectrum are participating in The Smith Family’s Christmas Toy and Book Appeal to help bring a smile to disadvantaged Aussie kids.  We hope our contribution will help these kids to gain the skills and knowledge to build a better future. If you visit our office before 12 December, you’re welcome to drop in a gift for us to donate on your behalf too.  All donations are tax-deductible.

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