Like it or not, Christmas is just around the corner and you are probably wondering ‘where did that year just go!?’
Christmas is typically one of the most expensive times of year for most Australians. On average we all spend an extra $1,079 between 1 December and 6 January each year. For many people, that is a lot of money to be coming up with in one go.
As it becomes more and more expensive to raise a family, the need to be more and more creative in how you save and spend your money becomes evident.
I have included a few tips myself, my family or friends have shared over the years.
- Put money aside weekly as a Christmas Fund
Sit down and write out a budget for Christmas.
Work out how much you will spend on:
- Alcohol/celebratory drinks
- Other Expenses
What you have spent in previous years will give you a reasonable guide. If you take that guide and use it as a basis for what you are likely to spend, you can start saving for it.
For example, if you have worked out that you will spend $1,000 over Christmas, put $20 per week into a savings account for the entire year.
$20 x 52 weeks = $1,040 (a few dollars left over)
A friend of mine does a variation of this. Every time she goes shopping, she will buy a $20 gift voucher, take it home and put it in a folder. When it comes to Christmas shopping time, she pulls out all the vouchers and uses them to buy gifts and Christmas dinner.
- Set a spending limit on gifts
This can get really interesting. Often, the lower the limit the better the gift and more creative people become. One year we had a $10 limit and banned chocolates as a gift. The outcome was a number of thoughtful gifts which now have sentimental value.
- Avoid paying full price for the latest toys
One of the biggest attractions for Christmas this year is the release of Playset Video Games such as Skylanders, Disney Infinity, Nintendo Amibo and Lego Dimensions. The starter packs for some of these sets can be as high as $170 in some stores.
If you shop around, you will find the same sets substantially cheaper. If you check clearance racks in some of the department stores, you may even find the same starter pack substantially reduced due to damaged packaging. My boys love these playset games. We managed to pick up a starter pack retailing for $79 for $20 because the box was damaged.
The other option is to wait until the Boxing Day sales. If you can hide a gift for an entire year, remember that you bought it and remember where you hid it without it being found, this year’s popular toys can be substantially reduced in price.
- When you have family gatherings, have everyone bring a plate
If you are hosting a Christmas gathering for family or friends, coordinate with everyone attending to bring a plate of food with them. It will save you on the cost of food to cater for everyone and save a lot of time in preparation.
- Make your own Christmas decorations
I remember as a kid, Mum would always pull us aside for a few hours either in the September/October school holidays or at the beginning of the Christmas school holidays and give us an activity to make our own decorations for the tree. We had a ball and those decorations still hang from the Christmas tree every year.
- Delay the family holiday for a few weeks
According to the Australian Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE), between 15 December and 2 January every year tends to be one of the most dangerous times of year to be on the road. It also happens to be one of the most expensive times of year for accommodation, airfares and dining out.
If you are able to delay the family holiday until the second or third week in January, you will save substantial money on accommodation, food and travel expenses.
- Avoid eating out where possible.
Aside from the public holidays and public holiday surcharges you will incur for eating out on a public holiday, some establishments replace their regular menu with a special Christmas and New Year menu with meals at a premium price. Other establishments have an extra Christmas to New Year’s surcharge for dining at their establishment over this period. Not a bad thing, however if you are on a budget over this period, this is one of the easiest ways to blow the budget without much effort.
Authorised Representative of Aon Hewitt Financial Advice Limited
Authorised Representative No. 324789
Aon Hewitt Financial Advice Limited ABN 13 091 225 642 AFSL No. 239183
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