Australians spend over $1,000 on average over the Christmas period each year, with 20% paying for this with a credit card that can take anywhere from three to over six months to pay off. This is a significant financial burden for many families. However, despite this, only 57% of Australian’s set a budget to help avoid taking a debt hangover into the New Year.
Budgeting can save you from hefty credit card bills come January and ease money stress, which is why we’ve listed the top 10 ways to budget for Christmas.
1. Have a list, and check it twice
Make a list with all the people you need to buy gifts for this Christmas and next to each person write a suggested gift and spending limit.
2. Track your expenditures
Record every Christmas related expenditure and check weekly whether you are sticking to the spending limit you set for yourself.
3. Avoid impulse buying
Impulse buying is when someone makes an unplanned decision to buy an additional product or service just before making a purchase, which can cause people to spend more than they earn. The closer it gets to Christmas, the stronger the urge is to impulse shop as people desperately scramble to complete last-minute gift buying. Having a list of gifts, shopping early, carrying cash rather than cards and sleeping on it before making a purchase are all ways you can combat the urge to impulse buy.
4. Be flexible
One of the biggest costs associated with the Christmas period is travel, particularly for those with family who need to fly either interstate or overseas. Being flexible with dates or the time you want to fly can help you avoid getting stung with inflated holiday prices.
5. Try online
Average Christmas spending on gifts
Shopping online gives you the ability to quickly and easily compare prices and products to find the perfect gift for friends and family. However, you can also purchase decorations, flights, accommodation and even food online, with many websites offering discounts to compete with shopping centres.
You can reuse not only Christmas decorations but also wrapping paper, bows, gift bags, bubble wrap and ribbons from last year. It’s these little things that add up.
7. Say no
The festive season brings a joviality with it that is associated with always saying yes. However, it’s OK to say no during the holiday period. With so many gift exchanges and activities, sometimes the occasional no is the only way to stick to a budget.
8. Group gifts
Do you have the perfect gift in mind for someone but it’s unfortunately outside your budget? Ask friends and family if they’d like to combine money to put towards a group gift that emphasises quality over quantity.
9. Clear out your house
We all have unused items lying around the house and Christmas is the perfect time to sell these, clearing clutter and giving you a few extra dollars to spend on the holiday period.
Refinancing your home loan is a good option to access the equity in your property so you can purchase your holiday necessities without fear of credit card debt. Although some people are wary of refinancing, it’s actually a simple process that a mortgage broker such as Mint Equity can guide you through free of charge. Mint Equity can assess the best products available that fit with your lifestyle to help you save money in time for Christmas.
Creating a budget helps you set money priorities and save up for big purchases, such as those required over Christmas. To do this, you will need as much information as possible about money coming in and out over the year including income, rent, mortgage and bills. You can then work out what you really need, such as food, and what is expendable, such as entertainment. This will help you set yourself targets, create saving plans and track your progress. You can then use a budget planner to check your spending limit and track your spending totals.
Statistics provided by Commonwealth Bank, Survey of Australian consumers Christmas spending - December 2014