Christmas is fast approaching and what a wonderful time of the year it is. However, for many this can be the time that the finances blow out and you start the new year with a financial hangover. I’ve put together my eight top tips to keep your Christmas spending in check and to help you enjoy the ‘silly season’ without breaking the bank
1.Make a Christmas list
Before you even venture into the shopping malls, make a list of who you have to buy for and start setting some spending limits for each person. This will ensure that you minimise the risk of any surprises later on. Overspending by a small amount on each person can quickly add up and blow out your Christmas budget.
2. Consider your holiday destination
For many, Christmas time is a chance to take a holiday with your friends and family. Whether you’re heading down south in Western Australia to Margaret River, or to the south of France, consider your budget for the holiday and whether there’s any way to reduce this or at the very least track what you’re spending. For Australians, the relative strength of the Australian Dollar (AUD) can have a significant impact on where you decide to holiday, so be sure to factor this in. You may just find that a trip to Langkawi may be significantly cheaper than a holiday down south.
3. Track your spending
Whether you use an app, an Excel spreadsheet or a pen and paper, there are many ways to easily track how much you’re spending throughout the festive season. ASIC also has their ownTrackMySPEND app, which you can download here. You may be surprised how quickly your holiday spending can add up, particularly as we spend more time out with friends and family over the festive season.
4. Be wary or credit or ‘buy-now-pay-later’ schemes
With the recent expansion or ‘buy-now-pay-later’ schemes such as AfterPay, it’s more important than ever for consumers to be wary of entering into agreements that could lead to balloon payments and significant interest charges. If you’re disciplined about regularly clearing your outstanding credit card balance (in full), then there should be no major cause for concern, but just ensure that you can do so. With credit card and store card interest rates generally ranging from 20 – 30%, this could lead to a Christmas gift that wasn’t on your list.
6. Have a Secret Santa with your friends or family
Buying gifts for all members of your family can be incredibly expensive, particularly if you’re from a large family. Consider having a Secret Santa arrangement whereby each person draws a name from a hat and only buys a gift for that person. This is a common approach for many families who will still buy gifts for the children, but have a SecretSanta for the adults. Not only does it lighten the financial burden, it also allows you to put more thought into the gift.
6. Hunt online for the bargains
These days, you don’t even need to leave your home to hunt for the best bargains. You can quickly compare offers on a global scale from your computer or mobile phone, so be sure to do so. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for a discount as you may just find that the store owner is feeling particularly generous this festive season.
7. Give back to those less fortunate
You may be questioning my logic here about how giving back to those less fortunate could save you money thisChristmas, but bear with me. Firstly, this doesn’t have to be a financial donation, you could spend time delivering toys and books with the Smith Family or wrapping Christmas lunch hampers with your local Rotary Club.Secondly, by spending time giving back, you’ll also find that you’re not spending this time out at Christmas drinks with your friends, or fighting the crowds at the shops donating to your credit card provider.
8. Start your Christmas shopping early
By starting your Christmas shopping early and throughout the year, you will not only reduce the stress of having to buy all of your gifts at once, which can lead to overspending, but will also allow you to take advantage of bargains throughout the year. While I’m not suggesting that you should buy Easter eggs the day after Easter for your family next year, you could start exploring your Christmas gift options and take advantage of the sales.
Wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas. May it be filled with happiness, joy and smart financial choices.
To your financial success!
Jarrad Brown is anAustralian-trained and qualified Fee-Based Financial Planner with Australian Expatriate Group of Global Financial Consultants Pte Ltd providing specialist financial advice and portfolio management services to Australian professionals in Singapore. Jarrad Brown is an Authorised Representative of Global FinancialConsultants Pte Ltd – No: 200305462G | MAS License No: FA100035-3
Australian Expatriate Group is a division of Global FinancialConsultants in Singapore providing specialist advice to Australians living abroad.
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General Information Only: The information on this site is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your individual financial situation, objectives or needs. You should consider your own financial position and requirements before making a decision.
*Please note that Jarrad Brown is not a tax agent or accountant and none of the content outlined here should be taken as personal advice. You should consult your tax agent and financial adviser to review your current personal finances and financial goals to consider whether this strategy is appropriate for you.