KEEP CHRISTMAS COSTS IN CHECK
While 2016 has been one unpredictable ride, one thing’s for certain; Christmas is just a few weeks away and it’s time to get financially sorted.
It’s no surprise that the lead-up to the holiday period is an expensive one: from Christmas parties and catch-ups to a never-ending list of gifts to buy, it all seems to hit the bank balance at once. So with conscious spending, daily saving and clever gifts, December doesn’t need to be a money vacuum.
This is exactly what it sounds like: being mindful of where your money is going. The key is in good planning; when stores are open 24/7 and you’re in a queue at 11pm on Christmas Eve, it’s easy to get carried away. The biggest budget blow will be last-minute buys. Write a list for everyone you need to buy something for: friends, family, in-laws, co-workers, neighbours...Write down ideas and a budget for each and stick to it.
A great way to spend consciously is to pay cash. Withdraw a set amount from the ATM and once it’s gone, stop shopping. Again, this is easier with a shopping list and a budget.
Just because it’s December doesn’t mean that savings plan goes out the window. With any savings goal – short or long term – the key is in paying yourself first. Use a direct deposit as soon as you get paid so there’s no temptation. Put it in a separate high interest account that rewards you for minimum deposits and withholds the high interest when you make withdrawals.
Setting aside $20 a week throughout the year leaves you with $1000 come Christmas time, which will be a huge help. However, it’s a little late to start now if you haven’t already! Don’t fear though, with conscious spending and good gift buying you can still stay on track, because no one wants to start 2017 with a financial hangover.
CLEVER GIFT BUYING
Research from finder shows Australians are expected to spend $10 billion on Christmas gifts this year, an increase of 28 per cent on last year. And, as of October, 1 in 3 Aussies had already started Christmas shopping, so it’s well and truly time to get planning.
Spend time thinking of creative and appropriate gifts before immediately rushing out to your nearest department store. Remember, particularly with oldies, it really is the thought that counts. What creative talents can you harness and give? Photography, cooking, and craft are all great options. Check out Etsy and Pinterest for some inspiration. Don’t forget charitable gifts, too: Oxfam is a great place to start.
Another tried and tested idea, particularly if you have a large family, is to organise a Secret Santa, so you only have to buy a gift for one person. Set a budget, draw a name out of a (Santa) hat and keep it a secret until swapping gifts on Christmas Day. This keeps costs down, and ensures nobody misses out.
Finally, with the huge rise in the popularity of online shopping, you might not even need to leave the house to do all your gift buying. Compare prices and products quickly online and keep an eye out for things such as free shipping.
Being mindful and aware are the keys to being able to achieve conscious spending in the lead-up to Christmas and the holidays, good luck – and don’t forget to try out some of these strategies leading up to the same period next year!