As the days grow longer and the weather warmer, perhaps even the staunchest of grinches would acknowledge that the festive season is well and truly upon us. Many of you will be looking forward to a break from work, sharing gifts with loved ones or perhaps getting away for a few days. Christmas is a very special time but it’s also an expensive one. To avoid the ‘Christmas pinch’ we’ve prepared a few tips to help you make the most of the holiday season, without putting your credit card through a workout intense enough to earn the respect of CrossFit fanatics.

Create a gift budget

The most effective way to keep your ‘present spending’ in check over the holiday period is to commit to a ‘total gift budget’. Hint: this figure should be based on your own finances, not the expectations of others or how many people you need to buy for. Once you’ve written down a figure, decide how to best allocate these funds to those you’re buying for. For instance, you may decide that 10% is for your partner, 50% to your daughter and the other 40% is to for parents and close friends. If this helps you to realise that you’re buying for too many people or your gift budget is too low, great! Perhaps you need to re-evaluate the people you’re buying gifts for or the budgets you have set for each person. In any case it’s certainly better to learn this before you burn a hole in your pocket rather than after.

Make good decisions with food

Food is a big expense for many Australians during the festive season and particularly if you’re playing host to family or friends on the big day. There’s a few simple things that you can do to reduce your food bill and the first is to buy the right amount of food. It’s interesting that an afternoon food coma seems to be a staple part of many Australians’ Christmas Day yet somehow there’s always a huge amount of food left over. Your guests aren’t likely to hit the roof if they can’t have a fourth serve of turkey so consider that you may not need that 2kg pork roast to go with it. The other big win applies to both food and alcohol – buy in bulk. Consider ‘discount’ stores like Aldi and Dan Murphy’s to buy all your items and be pleasantly surprised with the difference it makes to your bank balance.

Beware the Boxing Day sales

Having been to many Boxing Day sales, I still can’t work out whether I love it or hate it. It’s great to get some ‘bargains’ but I have many times headed out with the goal of buying three specific items and returned with thirteen. If you do choose to experience the mayhem, set some firm guidelines for the day. Start with setting an overall budget and decide on decide specifically on what you’re going to purchase. If you don’t trust yourself, try employing a time limit to stop you from straying into stores full of wonderful but unneeded items. Lastly if at all possible, leave the credit card at home – easy access to cash and retail bargains are a very dangerous combination!

Be philanthropic

If you’re lucky enough to share a wonderful Christmas Day with loved ones, enjoying a great food and a few drinks, you’re luckier than most. Christmas is a time for giving: offering your own time, a financial contribution or simply donating newly replaced toys somewhere they can go to good use will make a big difference to those that are less fortunate. Remember that many charitable gifts are tax-deductible so ask for receipts and be sure to hand them to your accountant when tax-time comes around.

The holiday season can create challenges around making effective decisions with your money but it needn’t unwind the financial progress you’ve made in 2015. Making some simple but important changes to your habits and plan of attack can ensure that you’re able to enjoy the Christmas period and enter 2016 on track to achieve your personal and financial goals.

1 reply

Comments are closed.