Christmas is undoubtedly one of the busiest and most expensive times of the year. However, according to Mortgage Choice Australia’s ‘Happy As’ Index, more than 28 per cent of Australians said they were planning to spend less on gifts this Christmas.
Rob Lees from Mortgage Choice Blaxland and Penrith said people are coming to realise just how easily the budget can blow out at Christmas time.
“It’s not too late to set a budget and aim to stick to it,” Mr Lees said. “If you’ve already finished your Christmas shopping them perhaps you can think about how you can save more dollars for next year. Having a budget and spending within your means will result in a far happier, debt-free Christmas season.”
Mortgage Choice Blaxland and Penrith have put together a list of their top 10 tips to help the local people in the Blue Mountains and Penrith region keep a reign on their Christmas spending.
1. Have a separate Christmas and holiday savings account
By simply transferring $20 a week into a separate account you can have around $1,000 saved in the account by Christmas time. Another idea is to transfer some or all of your tax return into a savings account to gain some interest over the coming months before Christmas shopping time hits. Just don’t be tempted to dip into it during the year!
2. Avoid using your credit card
Credit cards can be convenient but they can be dangerous as you are more likely to spend more than you have. Try to only spend money you have saved in a separate Christmas account (such as above) or use the money you have in your everyday account. If you don’t have enough cash available to pay for all your Christmas presents at once then it’s a great idea to lay-by your presents earlier in the year (when the sales are on!) and pay them off gradually. It won’t leave such a dent in your bank account.
3. DIY gifts
Gifts don’t need to be anything fancy. Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you make yourself. Some examples include photo albums/memory books, painted picture frames, homemade Christmas pudding, your children’s art work framed and given to grandparents, and homemade Christmas ornaments. Another idea is to give the gift of your time. You could make a voucher which entitles the receiver to a night out while you babysit or perhaps you could shout them breakfast at their favourite café.
4. Secret Santa gift giving
A great money saver for all the family is Secret Santa gift giving. Family members are randomly assigned one person to buy for and in return one person buys for them. Names are usually drawn out of a hat. Family members need to have an agreed spending limit for the gift they will buy. This type of present giving works well as you only need to shop for one person and you can give and receive a better quality gift!
5. Have a spending limit
Before you hit the shops have in mind, or better yet written down on paper or your electronic device, how much you plan to spend on each person and the items you plan to buy. You will also need a list for Christmas food, drink, decorations, cards, gift wrap etc. If you have a Christmas budget of $1,000 work out how much you will allocate to food, presents, decorations etc.
6. Make a list – check it twice!
Avoid overspending on unnecessary extras by making a specific list of what you would like to buy for each person and the amount you plan to spend. This is also helpful when it comes to buying food for Christmas lunch etc. Try not to divert from your list and remain focused by only shopping at the stores you know stock the items you’re looking for. There’s also no harm in asking family and friends if they had anything in particular they’d like for Christmas. This saves you spending time searching and you will be spending money on something you know they will like.
7. Do your research and compare
Before you start shopping go online, do your research and compare prices. This will save you from rushing from store to store and you can quickly find out the more affordable price. Some larger stores will also ‘price match’ so if you find a lower price on that particular item online or in a printed advertisement from another store you can ask them to match the price or beat it. Store owners love a little competition!
8. Buy local
Buying local not only supports your local economy, it can also save you money and often give you better quality gifts and food. Buying from your local fruit grocer, boutique clothing store or book shop prevents you from having to go to the larger supermarkets, super centres and shopping centres and over-spending on unnecessary items.
9. Don’t get trapped by marketing ploys
Retail stores and supermarkets love to bait customers by offering deals such as “Buy 2 get 1 free” or having lengthy interest free periods – don’t get roped in! Stick to your list and your budget.
10. Share the load, split the costs
Is it your turn to host the family this Christmas? Involve everyone in the day and save a few dollars by asking each guest or family group to bring one or two dishes to share with everyone else.
We hope these Christmas budgeting tips keep you smiling and stress-free this Christmas! If would like more information on budgeting or financial planning please send us an email at email@example.com or phone our team at Blaxland on (02) 4739 9749.