According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians splurged a whopping $47.5 billion during last year’s Christmas shopping period. That probably made for a lot of blistered credit cards and debt hangovers come February!
As your credit advisor, I’d like to recommend a more sensible approach to spending this silly season. Here’s a few tips to help you keep things under control. Remember, Santa should be the only one heading south this Christmas, not your finances!
#1 Set a Christmas budget
It’s easy for things to get out of hand when you don’t have a budget. Before you hit the shopping plaza or blaze through the online shopping sites, put together a Christmas budget. Be sure to include the costs of meals, entertainment, gifts and festive wear for your Christmas party circuit. ASIC’s MoneySmart TrackMySPEND app allows you to set spending limits for different categories of Christmas expenses and track your spending as you go.
If you’re planning to travel or book holiday accommodation, you’ll need to factor those costs into your budget too. If you’re planning a big trip with air fares, consider seeing me about a personal loan rather than plonking it on your credit card. It could make it easier to pay off and potentially save you some money on interest.
#2 Know your triggers
To cut back on needless spending, understand the triggers that lead to impulse buying. Maybe you like to do a little late-night online shopping? If so, turn your phone off at dinnertime and leave it in a drawer until morning (don’t forget the alarm though!) Perhaps you tend to get embroiled in the Christmas shopping frenzy as the big day approaches? Solution: do your shopping early and avoid the last-minute spending rush.
Another tip is to take cash with you to the shops and to leave your credit card at home. That way you won’t be tempted to tap-and-go willy-nilly and get a nasty shock later.
#3 Embrace sentimental gift-giving
A great way to avoid overspending this Christmas is to opt for sentimental gifts rather than extravagant presents that cost the earth. Need inspiration? You could:
- Have a family photo taken and give everyone a copy as a gift
- Get crafty with handmade gifts, cards and wrapping paper
- Bake yummy treats like gingerbread men or mince pies
- Shop at markets, op shops and charity sites
- Re-gift things to a better home if you have something you don’t need
- Make your own redeemable vouchers for tasks like babysitting and massages.
There are heaps of other things you could do to save, so put your thinking cap on and get creative! For any gifts you need to buy, save where you can by purchasing items on sale and by shopping around for the best price.
#4 Suggest a Secret Santa exchange
When you have a big family, gift-giving costs can really add up. Why not suggest a Secret Santa exchange instead? Here’s how it works.
Each family member draws a name out of a hat and buys a gift for that person anonymously. The benefit is you can set a spending limit and everyone receives a gift. You won’t have to fork out hundreds of dollars on presents for multiple people, nor will you have the stress of finding the right gift for difficult aunt Muriel (unless of course you’re unlucky enough to draw her name in the Secret Santa draw).
We hope you have a wonderful festive season and enjoy some quality time with family and friends. After all, that’s what Christmas is really about – not how much you spend.
Remember, I’m here if you need help with a home loan during the holidays, or a personal loan if you want a better way to finance your spending than a credit card. I can also assist with finance for big-ticket items like a new car, family boat, or an overseas trip for example – and help you get it organised quickly. Happy holidays!