October 24, 2016 Paula Benson

Christmas is Coming! Here’s how to start budgeting.

Here are six ways to make Christmas easier on your back pocket:

 

1.    Make a list

Making a list might sound obvious, but Christmas shopping on impulse is dangerous. So make an old-fashioned shopping list and stick to it. Remember, shops spend a fortune on targeting your spending impulses – a list helps you beat them.

2.    Set a budget and track it

Use your list to create a realistic budget to help you avoid the mistakes of Christmases past. Look at where you overspent or what you didn’t plan for last year, and work out what your friends or family really need.

Then keep track of your spending to avoid going over budget – an app like ASIC MoneySmart’s TrackMySpend can help make this easy, or of course if you bank with NAB and have the Money Tracker this is always a crucial tool to your budgeting!

3.    Think outside the box

Try some gift hacks to reduce costs and double the fun.

Why not try a Secret Santa, so everyone gets just one gift? That way you can spend a little more than usual on your assigned person, and get them something they’ll really enjoy. And meanwhile, the whole family saves, reducing financial stress for everyone. Or you could agree to only buy for the kids in your family or group of friends.

For your kids, buy small gifts for Christmas Day, and give them an IOU for a larger gift to be bought in the post-Christmas sales.

Great gift giving doesn’t mean spending lots of money. For example, the kids can give vouchers for household chores or foot massages or even “best behavior” promise vouchers..

4.    Plastic isn’t always fantastic

If you use a credit card this year to pay for some or all of your Christmas gifts and expenses, track your spending and have a plan to pay it off.

If you spend $1,000 on your credit card, for example, and pay it back at $100 per month, it’s likely it will take you around 11 months to pay off [1].

5.    Cut Christmas Day food costs

Consider a simple classic meal, and don’t over-cater. Or if you’re the regular Christmas host, ask everyone to ‘bring a plate’ – or to bring a starter or dessert. Not only will it save money, it’ll also reduce the effort and make sure everyone can enjoy the festivities (including you!).

Buy pantry items for Christmas lunch in the weeks leading up to Christmas so you don’t have all the costs at once.

6.    Start saving now to spread the costs

How much did Christmas 2015 cost you? If, for example, you’re planning to spend $1,200 this Christmas, it’s a good idea to start saving now. If you save $50 a week over 12 weeks, you’ll have half of it already saved in time for Christmas!

Need some help with getting your budgeting together? Attend our free First Steps to Financial Success seminar in our Geelong office on Wednesday 26th October at 5:30pm, or call us on (03) 5229 0577 for more information.

[1] Based on an interest rate of 18%, at https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/credit-card-calculator

Please note: The advice in this article is of a general nature only and has not been tailored to your personal circumstances. Please seek personal advice prior to acting on this information.

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