Article adapted from Starts at 60 sponsored by St. George Money
Would it be out of the question to assume you spend around $500 on Christmas gifts?
What about a holiday? In the thousand dollar mark?
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions, then guess what, you’re not alone!
In fact, the average Aussie family spent almost $550 on gifts alone, not to mention a whopping $2,000 over the holiday period.
So, what does this all mean?
Well, it indicates that while many of us view the holiday season as a great time to enjoy with family and friends, often it can become stressful… and expensive.
But the truth is: this can be avoided.
There are a number of simple ways to keep your budget from blowing out of control. For instance, a trusty savings plan and traditional lay-by services are two of the best ways to save money this Christmas.
However, we’ve compiled a list of other tips and tricks that you may not have considered.
Savings tip 1: Setting up a separate savings account
If you need encouragement to save money for the holiday period, you may want to consider setting up a separate savings account.
By making regular payments throughout the year, means you won’t have to think about saving for the holidays. Better still, when Christmas finally comes around, you’ll have a stash of money available at your leisure. But keep in mind, when the money runs out, it’s time to stop spending!
Savings tip 2: Track your spending
There are many budget calculators and apps that make it easier than ever to save money over the Christmas period.
Keep a close eye on your finances, particularly those impulse buys, by reviewing your account regularly.
It’s easy to overestimate how much food you’ll need over Christmas, only to end up eating leftovers for days or throwing some away.
When it comes to grocery shopping and catering, ASIC’s Moneysmart site recommends sharing the catering duties, shopping around for grocery deals at different supermarkets and using loyalty points from your credit card or Frequent Flyer provider to make purchases.
This nifty calculator on the New South Wales government’s Love Food Hate Waste website can help you plan your Christmas meals to avoid over-purchasing.
Savings tip 3: One in, one out
Did you know about 20 per cent of households sell belongings to help fund their Christmas spending? That said, you may want to consider having a pre-Christmas clean-up and sell the belongings that you no longer need.
Online sites such as Gumtree, eBay and the Marketplace within Facebook, are good options to save money by decluttering and generating some quick cash.
Savings tip 4: Stalk the retailers
Follow your favourite brands on social media and sign up to their email newsletters.
Retailers invariably offer special discounts to newsletter subscribers. To save money, keep an eye out for special coupon codes or sales that retailers may not advertise in the mainstream media too, so you can snap up gifts at a cut price whenever you spot a deal on them.
Savings tip 5: Shop smarter online
Be aware of online retailers’ delivery charges.
These can vary significantly, with some retailers offering free delivery for purchases over a certain amount, while others charge by weight or whether you require standard or express postage.
Choosing to do much of your shopping at one e-tailer so you can bundle the goods, can help cut down on postage costs, as can using postage bundling providers if you’re shopping on overseas sites. These services hold your packages from multiple retailers until all have arrived, then send them in one bulk lot, potentially cutting postage costs.
If you’re buying from local retailers, check their sites to see if there’s an option to collect the goods you’ve ordered from a nearby store rather than having them posted.
Savings tip 6: Put your creativity to the test
Are you a great cook or perhaps you fancy yourself a bit of an artist?
Homemade gifts are not only far more meaningful to the person receiving them, they also cost next to nothing. So, put your DIY skills to the test to save money!
Savings tip 7: Stagger your shopping
A Stamford University study found that when shoppers purchase one thing, it triggers the impulse to buy a second, unrelated product.
The takeaway here is to pace yourself, whether you’re shopping in store or online, to avoid buying items you don’t need.
Savings tip 8: Try ‘online layby’
Online ‘buy now, pay later’ services such as AfterPay, OpenPay and zipMoney extend a line of credit to shoppers at participating retailers that can be repaid over a defined period. It’s like an old-school lay-by service, but you can take the goods with you when you ‘purchase’ them.
But don’t forget that such services are a form of credit and, as with a credit card, you’ll be hit with penalties if you don’t pay off the item within the agreed period.
Information current as at 5 October 2018.
This article has been adapted by BT Financial Group – A Division of Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714 and will published on the BT website at BT.com.au.
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