Christmas An increase in cheer and a decrease in funds

Did you know that the most generous people in Australia (when it comes to spending money at Christmas time) live in New South Wales (NSW) with an average spend that month of $548 per person and, sorry, but the people from Victoria are actually amongst the cheapest!, with an average spend of only $401.(1)

The good news is that 60% of people pay for their Christmas presents using their savings, and only 20% of these shoppers pay using their credit cards, and then take an average of three months to pay off the debt.(2)

Yes – it is that time of year again and the question which a lot people will ask is; “With Christmas so close – is it too late to even contemplate a budget? or are there strategies I can adopt to ensure I don’t overspend?”

Hopefully the following tips may help you survive this upcoming Christmas season without too much of a debt hangover! (as for dealing with a normal hangover – you are on your own!)

1. Make a list: Identify who are you buying gifts for and what you are buying. List the food and supplies that you will need for Christmas day – this will help keep you on track in both regards.

2. Scour the junk mail: A ‘scrooge’ you would normally curse throughout the year, could actually be your inspiration! This is the time to read and take note of the bargains and the savings around you – you will be surprised with the savings you could stand to make.

3. Frequent Flyer points: If you have them use them. Did you know that you don’t need to save them for flights – you can use them purchase a large variety of gifts available through the various airline’s online catalogues.

4. Shopping centers: Pick one you believe will satisfy all of your requirements. Do not get caught wondering through the various centres in your neighborhood. Set yourself a time limit, and don’t become distracted by the hype which can be everywhere. Shopping outside the peak hours it is a lot quicker with less people – maybe take a day off work and get it done!

5. Be creative: Give people the gift of your ‘time’. IOUs such as promising to mow the lawn, washing their car, shouting your mum and dad to a nice picnic, baking cupcakes, or you could even be crafty and make your own gifts (if you have the talent!).

6. Use eBay or Gumtree: Now is the time to sell all the unwanted items which fill our homes and use this cash to purchase your Christmas gifts!

7. Remember the less fortunate: There is always someone who needs help at Christmas time, so why not donate to a worthwhile charity and invest in someone less fortunate? It will mean the world to those on the receiving end.

8. Christmas cards: At the end of the day it is cheaper and better for the environment to create your own card online, and to then email everyone on your list – easy and think of what you will save on stamps!

9. Discipline: Having this in your possession at Christmas is hard, but remember, the dramas and the difficulties which will follow early in the new year when you have to pay for the extravagance can be avoided!

10. Plan for next year this year: We are always told it is never too early – and this couldn’t be more right.

1.Commonwealth Bank survey of Australian consumers Christmas spending – December 2014.
2.ASIC’s ‘Money Smart’ Poll – December 2014.

By Mark Teale

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