There’s no doubt about it, Christmas can be a challenging time of the year. From trying to organise Christmas lunch, to shopping for gifts and managing the budget, the festive season is often a stressful time of the year.
However, the key to keeping the balance sheet in the black is planning ahead and preparing for Christmas early. With that in mind, we spoke to AMP financial advisor Mark Borg about the best ways Aussie families can get through Christmas without breaking the bank this year.
1. Plan ahead
“Set yourself a Christmas budget and stick to it,” says Mark. “There’s nothing wrong with splurging on a special present or a night out with your nearest and dearest, as long as it’s been accounted for.”
“The budget doesn’t have to be restrictive, but it does need to be strict. Going over – even just by $10 here and there – can add up.”
2. Make a list and check it twice
“Make a list of all the gifts you need to purchase, and any food or beverages you need for entertaining to ensure you don’t overspend,” says Mark. “An exhaustive list will remove any mishaps where you might need to make a last-minute purchase that blows the budget. Plus, you can start keeping an eye out for deals ahead of time.”
3. Go (credit) cardless
“Remember that anything bought with credit costs extra. If you need to use credit or prefer to, based on perks offered by your financial institution, ensure you pay the owing amount in full at the end of each month.”
4. Cut back on the non-essentials
“Start saving a little extra by cutting back on the non-essentials. Think of simple things such as packing a lunch and making your own coffee each morning, or skipping your weekly takeaway can make a huge difference during big spending periods.”
5. New Years (financial) resolutions
“Coming towards the beginning of another year is the perfect time to start thinking about your financial future and set some goals for 2020,” says Mark. “Over the holiday period, take the time to sit down and review your finances and align your spending with your financial goals for the coming years.”
6. Start saving early (for next Christmas)
“While your Christmas spending is still top of mind, start a savings plan for next year,” says Mark. “It may seem excessive, but putting a small amount aside each pay day, or saving your small coins over the year, can add up quickly. Remember, look after the pennies and the pounds look after themselves.”