On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me……a credit card bill that I couldn’t afford to pay.
Blowing your budget during the silly season is so easy to do. It’s not just eating one too many slices of pavlova or cake you’re feeling guilty about on Christmas night. It’s the nagging worry that you spent way too much on…….everything.
If you don’t want to start the new year with a financial hangover check out my tips for avoiding spending regret this Christmas.
Create a Christmas gift spending plan
First things first. Before you spend a cent on gifts, sit down and work out a spending plan. Create an excel spreadsheet and list out the names of everyone you’d like to buy a gift.
Now figure out the amount you can afford to spend on gifts in total. According to CommSec, Aussies spend a total of around $550 on family and friends for Christmas but many come to regret it! It doesn’t matter where your budget sits comparatively, allocate it according to your list.
Equipped with your plan the silly season won’t be quite so (financially) silly and you’ll be able to refer back to your spreadsheet for next year’s spending guide. That’s a handy bonus right?
And for extra bonus points, include this amount in your money plan from January so you can start putting money aside each month, rather than waiting until December to work it out.
Have a big extended family?
Buying gifts for a whole tribe of aunties, uncles, and cousins will put a serious dent in Christmas spending; even $15 – $20 gifts add up quickly!
Instead, hold a family Secret Santa. Agree on a budget so everyone is on the same money page. You can even organise your name draw online with a free Secret Santa Organiser.
Leave your credit card at home
Once you’ve got the gift budget for each person sorted, withdraw the amount in cash and leave your credit card at home.
Retailers do whatever they can to make us spend more and relying on willpower not to rack up unnecessary Christmas purchases on the credit card isn’t going to cut it.
Look for free activities
Catching up with family and friends or treating the kids to a day out doesn’t need to mean an added expense on an already stretched budget. The silly season is the perfect time to take advantage of free events and activities happening in your area, especially in the major cities.
BYO your lunch, skip hefty parking fees with public transport and you’ve got yourself a budget-friendly day out.
Forget about gifts and help others
Check out these great opportunities to lend a hand of support. There are bound to be plenty of opportunities in your local area to lend a hand. It’s a great way to feel good and make someone else feel good too.
Meal planning is one of the best ways to cut costs on groceries in general, especially during the festive season.
A few weeks out from Christmas day, sit down and plan out everything you’ll serve on the day and the ingredients needed. Don’t forget the lead-up to Christmas day too, are you planning to entertain friends and family? Dedicating some time to meal planning upfront will save you money in the long run.
Buy groceries online
Now your Christmas menu is locked and loaded, order your groceries online.
Grab a cuppa and methodically work through the list of everything you need to buy online without the temptation to overspend that comes with shopping in a store.
It’s also easier to search for specials navigating the website rather than the aisles.
You’ll also save yourself the hassle of battling supermarket Christmas crowds. I think most of us agree this is rarely fun.
Avoid buy now, pay later schemes like AfterPay
ASIC’s first review of the rapidly growing “buy now, pay later” sector shows collectively, that Aussie customers owe $903 million in buy now, pay later debts and 1 in 6 are struggling to make repayments.
Putting on your ‘I’ll deal with it later’ blinkers and spending up a storm with schemes like AfterPay, Zip Pay and Zip Money will hit you hard in the new year. Avoid this money mistake at all costs. You will be thankful in January that you did.
Hunt down discounts and compare costs online
Google is quite possibly your greatest ally when it comes to saving on Christmas gifts.
Search and compare the costs of the same gift and where you can get it the cheapest. This may mean ordering it online so account for delivery times and fees.
Daily coupon sites like Groupon and Catch are worth a look too.
It might be tough, but a commitment to skip the booze when catching up with friends during the festive season will stretch your celebratory dollar further.
Invitations to a ‘few’ drinks at the local or Friday night cocktails before the work Christmas shindig can chew a hole in your wallet. Swap $18 mojitos for a more budget-friendly, non-alcoholic choice. (ok, I get it, that one might be a bit hard, but worth a try)
Enjoy Chrissie Day with a few glasses of wine or a cold beer and pat yourself on the back for avoiding a Christmas financial hangover.
Once Christmas is done and dusted, we’ll soon be welcoming in a new year. Will 2024 be the year you turn your finances around? If your answer is YES, I’m here to lend a hand.
Once upon a time, in the Struggle Bus of finances, I was the DRIVER. I did everything wrong. I lived pay period-to-pay period. I knew how it felt to need money and not have any in the bank. It was brutal.
But I turned things around. I cracked the code of money with a commitment to studying everything I could on the topic. I learned to invest and grew my wealth.
I want to help you make 2024 the year you transform your financial life!
Click here to claim YOUR FREE Smart Investor Call, where we will uncover the challenges holding you back and the solutions to overcome them. There’s nothing to buy, it’s only 20 minutes, and it could just be the thing that sets up 2024 to be the one where you finally crack the money code.