Christmas can be a time of excess – food, wine and spending – but it doesn’t have to be. Here are my six tips for surviving the Christmas holiday season ‘unscathed’.
1. Start saving for Christmas 2019
You might be wondering how you are going to pay for Christmas this year. Well, this tip is to prepare you for next Christmas. Starting in January, set up an automatic transfer to move funds into a separate holiday spending account, each time you are paid. This way, you will accrue 12 months’ worth of savings, which will be waiting for you in time for Christmas next year.
2. Cut up your credit card
If you are already wondering how you are going to pay off your credit card, then stop using it now. Even better, cut it up! Really think about how much cash you have between now and Christmas, and spend it wisely, rather than incurring a 20% interest rate on top of the money you already owe to the bank.
3. It’s the thought that counts
Instead of overspending, employ the philosophy, it’s the thought that counts. A well-thought-out and inexpensive present such as a beautiful plant will live for years. What about baking homemade brownies or ginger bread men? Printing a selection of photos in frames is a special, lasting gift for parents and grandparents. You could also offer a ‘gift voucher’ for services you provide – babysitting, gardening or dog minding.
4. Use gift vouchers strategically
Vouchers can be a great way to ‘stretch’ the value in a present, for example, when gift vouchers are spent during post-Christmas sales, the recipient of the present will generally get a lot more for their money. Giving your friends or family a gift voucher and then taking them out to spend it during the Boxing Day sales is a great way to get bonus value from your gift.
5. Plan for additional spending on entertaining
The festive season means people and parties, so plan to increase your food budget in the weeks leading into Christmas. Go shopping with a list and stick to it, or you may be likely to buy extra goodies which are enticingly displayed for Christmas. You can also share the load (and cost) by asking guests to each bring a plate for Christmas lunch or dinner.
6. Consider ‘life-changing’ gifts
Consider making a donation on behalf of the person you are buying for. Not only is the purchase a tax deductable, these gifts are literally life-changing. You can buy a goat, a chicken, a vegie garden or safe drinking water. Give more usefully, rather than giving more ‘stuff’ we don’t really need.
If you do financially ‘over indulge’ during the holiday season, it is important to start the new year with strong intent and good habits. Start with conscious spending – before purchasing, ask yourself, “Do I really need this?” and ensure you have a savings plan in place. Set yourself a goal and reward yourself when you reach that goal. It will help keep you motivated to reach your goal.
We hope these tips will help you to avoid a Christmas financial hangover, without having to be a Grinch!
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year.