02 Nov Does Christmas fill you with financial dread?
Christmas is a time to enjoy time with the family and indulge in the excesses that the festive season brings. But for some the festivities are often tinged with that feeling of dread that financial stress can bring out. If this is you then you are not alone, Australia’s level of household debt is amongst the highest in the world.
So, what can you do to make sure that you are prepared for Christmas and make sure that the only feeling in your stomach is that one of too much Christmas tucker?
We’ve put together some ways that can assist with making your Christmas a little less stressful….
Have a Christmas clear out!
Get some extra cash to boost your festive finances. Spend a few hours clearing out anything you no longer need around the house, like clothes, books, jewellery, furniture, music, or sporting equipment. You could sell these items online, hold a garage sale, or find a local buy-swap-sell.
They say that one person’s trash is another’s treasure so, as well as pocketing a few extra dollars, you might just end up making someone else’s Christmas extra special.
Plan early and budget
Write out a list of all your family and friends of whom you plan to give a gift to at least 2 months before Christmas. Make sure you write down how much you are spending on each person and stick to it! Set aside 2 separate days on a weekend or during the week to do your shopping. Try your best to ensure this is done at least 4 weeks before Christmas. This gives you enough time to plan for other events and avoid the mad rush on Christmas Eve.
- List the food and drinks you’ll need, and how much you can spend.
- Buy in advance where possible to take advantage of specials, especially if items can be frozen or have a long shelf life.
- Buy only what you need, it can be far too easy to overestimate what you will need only to end up throwing away.
- Plan before you buy to save money on food, check out ASIC’s article: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/managing-your-money/budgeting/simple-ways-to-save-money/how-to-save-money-on-food
Track your spending
Keep track of your festive spending to ensure that you don’t go over your budget. There are many budgeting apps out there that can assist such as ASIC’s MoneySmart’s TrackMySpend:
Eat, drink, party….and share
Hosting parties throughout the festive period means entertaining madness! Don’t take it all on yourself, ask everyone to bring a plate of food and their own drinks to help save on costs. Not only financially savvy, but frees up hours of your time on prepping!
Be credit sensible
If you don’t have the cash to pay for your Christmas goodies up-front, you might be tempted to use your credit card, or use a buy now, pay later service. Although these are convenient ways to get the things you need now, that convenience can cost you dearly if you find yourself still saddled with Christmas debt well into 2019. If you are going to use credit cards make sure you review it. Look out for good card deals if you do plan to use your credit card this Christmas and consider switching after spending to a lower rate or 0% offer.
Personalise your cards and wrap
Most Christmas cards once the festivities are over are thrown away, which is just like throwing money in the bin.
Make your massages more personal and greener this Christmas, why not send out Christmas greetings people will want to keep? You could:
- use a favourite photo to create a personalised photo card
- if you have kids, give them some paper and get them to draw or paint pictures that you can use to create special cards
- record a video message on your smartphone or iPad and email it to your family and friends
- write a letter to your loved ones instead of sending a card. This is a great way to tell them how much they mean to you, or thank them for something special they might have done for you this year.
- rethink your wrapping by buying brown paper and string, or just use plain coloured paper to wrap your presents. Then you’ll avoid pricey Christmas wrapping and can use the excess during the year to wrap other gifts.
Buy online and save
If you’re Christmas shopping online, look for ways to save more. Before you start, do a web search for discount or coupon codes that you can use at the checkout. Look in the sales sections of retailers’ websites to see what’s on offer.
- If you know what items you are looking for, search for them online instead of just going to one retailer’s website. You might find it much cheaper somewhere else.
- Search online auction websites where you can ‘bid’ for items, including supplies you need for Christmas Day. Make sure you include any shipping costs when you are comparing prices. The cost of some items can blow out once you add shipping, meaning it might be better to simply go to a store to get the item. Or look for items or shopping days that have free shipping.
Things are often much cheaper online than in a store, but you do need to take extra precautions when shopping online. Before you buy any deal or discount, always check the terms and conditions to make sure you know what you are getting and make sure the website is legitimate. See the ACCC’s SCAMwatch website for tips on how to pick an online shopping scam.
If you need more personalised budgeting or financial advice you can contact one of the team to book in with a broker or financial planner, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 08 9304 9682.
If you are suffering from debt stress and need some assistance you can contact the National Debt Helpline 1800 007 007.