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, here are our top tips to save at Christmas so that you can kick off the new year in control of your money.
1. Create 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. Christmas is the perfect time to download a budgeting app. 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.
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. Check out article 10 of our best Christmas shopping hacks for ideas on how to get great gifts for less.
3. 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 and Superrewards.
4. Create new traditions
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 spending limit on Christmas presents too.
5. Be mindful when buying for children
Many families are now buying for their kids based on the principles of something to wear, something to read, something they want and something they need. Doing this reduces the amount of stuff they get plus research has shown more presents doesn’t equal more happiness! You could also consider setting them up financially by investing some money for them and encourage other family members to do the same. Add to it each year and you could easily have enough for your child to use as a house deposit or if you invest in shares they could have a tidy share portfolio when they are an adult.
6. 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. A great way to save at Christmas celebrations is 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!
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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!
10. 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. Use web tools like Karma to alert you when products you want to buy go on sale. Plan your holiday earlier so that you get cheaper flights and accommodation deals.
11. Consider those going without
This bonus 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.