October 29, 2015
Christmas is one of the most enjoyable times of the year, though for many, the costs associated with the festive period can cause a great deal of stress.
In an effort to keep the stress at bay during the holiday season, Mortgage Choice CEO John Flavell encourages Australians to plan ahead financially to ensure the budget doesn't blow out.
“The rising cost of living is no doubt a big stress factor for many Australians. In fact, results from our recent Money Survey found 85.6% of Australians felt their cost of living had risen over the last 12 months. As such, it is extremely important for Australians to take this information as forewarning and put a financial plan in place before the silly season kicks off,” he said.
“Getting into the Christmas spirit doesn't mean you have to get into debt. No one wants to start the New Year on the back foot, so it pays to do a budget early so you know how much you can afford.”
Mortgage Choice offers the following tips to help Australians prepare for the Christmas season and keep their finances in check:
Budget now: There are eight weeks from now until Christmas. Work out how much you can afford to put away each week between now and then to cover gifts, food, entertaining and travel expenses for the silly season. Then calculate the total figure you will have to spend this Christmas and allocate funds for each type of expense.
Credit free Christmas: Think of long term gains, instead of short term pleasures. According to Mortgage Choice's latest Money Survey, 1 in 2 Australians have some form of credit card debt. Make sure Christmas doesn't break the bank – if you can't afford something, don't buy it. Christmas may look a little more festive with those new decorations, but come January they will be a financial burden. One way to make sure you stick to this is by leaving the cards at home and only taking cash with you when shopping.
Purchase with purpose: Work out what gifts you are buying for each friend and family member before you go shopping. That way you can compare prices online and work out which stores you are visiting before you hit the shops. You may even be able to buy some gifts online, but just be aware of potential shipping costs. Shopping with a purpose and clear plan in mind will also help reduce unnecessary purchases or expenses like coffee or lunch.
Family expectations: Is there a trend within your family to buy a Christmas present for every niece, nephew, in-law or pet? For most Australians, purchasing all these gifts is not only time consuming, but a financial pressure. Consider having an open conversation with your family around the idea of having a lucky dip, secret Santa, or at least agree on a maximum dollar figure that can be spent on each person's present.
Review your lender: One way to potentially inject more money into your coffers this Christmas and help you cope with the costs of the silly season, is to review your lender. If you have been with the same lender since you got your first job, then it might be time to consider switching to another bank. Not only are some banks offering dollar incentives – such as $100 into your savings account – if you switch, but they also have high interest rate savings accounts, so you could earn more money on the cash you have in your savings account. This could be extra money for the Christmas gift fund. If you do switch lenders, make sure you read the fine print, as you may find that your lender will offer you dollar incentives for depositing a certain amount of money into your account each month or withdrawing a certain amount of money from the ATM each time.