Our Top 12 Tips for Saving this Christmas

Written on the 28 November 2019 by Nathan Drew, Fox Finance Group

Our Top 12 Tips for Saving this Christmas

 

As a self-admitted Christmas tragic, I love this time of year. Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree and adding a few lights to the outside of the house to build the festive spirit are all things that I look forward to every year. But the festive season can also bring financial challenges that create stress in our lives at the same time.

So, if the festive season leaves you a little out of pocket, feeling like you've overspent and weary from battling the crowds at the shops, check out our top 12 tips below!

1. Have a pre-Christmas garage sale or sell unwanted things online

There's still time to bag some extra cash to boost your festive finances. Spend a few hours clearing out the things that you no longer use or need around the house. This might be your old clothes that you've only worn once, books that you never pick up now, jewellery, old furniture, old music cds, or sporting equipment. Selling these online in an online marketplace like Gumtree or eBay is easy to do. If you are a little more traditional, (and like getting up early) you could sell these items at a garage sale or find a local buy-swap-sell.

They say that one person's trash is another's treasure so, as well as pocketing a few extra dollars, you might just end up making someone else's Christmas that little bit more special at the same time.

2. Make a list and check it twice

Make lists of the things you need to buy including the food you need to prepare for the festive season. This could help you plan out a Christmas budget and keep your spending on track.

Here is a short list of things you might consider in advance to take advantage of some early bird savings:

  • Travel plans - Whether you're flying or driving, there are ways to save on holiday travel costs. List all your costs like flights, accommodation, travel insurance, airport transfers and petrol. Shop around for deals as early as you can, to avoid paying a premium for last-minute bookings or peak season increases. If you're going on a driving holiday, work out which day is cheapest to fill up on petrol, and do it the week before Christmas.
  • Entertainment supplies - List the food and drinks you'll need, and how much you can spend. Buy in advance where possible to take advantage of specials, especially if items can be frozen or have a long shelf life.
  • Presents - Make a list of who you're buying for, what you want to get them, and how much money you're prepared to spend on each person.

3. Track your spending

Keeping track of your festive spending is the best way to avoid going over your budget this Christmas. There are multiple apps available for both iOS and Android so you can track your expenses on the go. You can even use ASIC's MoneySmart's TrackMySPEND app to nominate a spending limit for different types of Christmas expenses and track your progress while you shop.

4. Be smart about Christmas credit

If you don't have the cash to pay for your Christmas goodies up-front, you might be tempted to use your credit card, or take out a personal loan. Although these are convenient ways to get the things you need now, that convenience can cost you dearly if you find yourself still saddled with Christmas debt in 2020.

Before you sign up, make sure you understand what the terms and conditions are, how much your repayments will be, and when they are due.

5. Personalise your cards and wrapping

Most people throw away their Christmas cards once the festivities are over, which is just like throwing money in the bin.

This year, instead of spending your hard-earned cash on shop-bought cards that will only end up in the recycling bin, why not send your family and friends Christmas greetings they will want to keep? You could:

  • Use a favourite photo to create a personalised photo card.
  • If you have kids, give them some paper and get them to draw or paint pictures that you can use to create special cards.
  • Record a video message on your smartphone or iPad and email it to your family and friends.
  • Write a letter to your loved ones instead of sending a card. This is a great way to tell them how much they mean to you or thank them for something special they might have done for you this year.
  • Rethink your wrapping by buying brown paper and string, or just use plain coloured paper to wrap your presents. Then you'll avoid pricey Christmas wrapping and can use the excess during the year to wrap other gifts.

6. Become an online scrooge

If you're looking to save some time by doing your Christmas shopping online, look for ways to save every cent you can. Before you start, do a web search for discount or coupon codes that you can use at the checkout. Look in the sales sections of retailers' websites to see what's on offer.

If you know what items you are looking for, search for them online instead of just going to one retailer's website. You might find it much cheaper somewhere else.

Search online auction websites where you can 'bid' for items, including supplies you need for Christmas Day. Make sure you include any shipping costs when you are comparing prices. The cost of some items can blow out once you add shipping, meaning it might be better to simply go to a store to get the item. Or look for items or shopping days that have free shipping.

Things are often much cheaper online than in a store, but you do need to take extra precautions when shopping online that you are buying from a reputable online retailer. Looking at their online reviews is a good place to start.

7. Get social with your Christmas shopping

If you follow your favourite brands and retailers on social media, you may be able to get exclusive discounts through these social channels. Their newsletters may also alert you to sales and deals.

There are also discount or deal apps that you can use to find bargains that you can use as Christmas gifts. Before you buy any deal or discount, always check the terms and conditions to make sure you know what you are getting and make sure the website is legitimate.

8. Master the art of Christmas gift savings

There's a lot of pressure to spend up big on gifts at this time of year, but pricey presents aren't necessarily the way to go. Here are some ways you can show you care, while keeping a lid on your spending:

  • Agree on a spending limit - Suggest to your loved ones that you set a limit on how much you will spend on gifts for each other to keep your budgets under control
  • Kids only - Talk to the other adults in your extended family about only buying presents for the kids this year, rather than for the adults
  • DIY vouchers - We often remember the things people do for us rather than the presents they give us. Consider giving redeemable vouchers for tasks like babysitting, massages, picnics, homemade dinners or even housework.
  • Savvy sales - Take advantage of sales throughout the year to nab some bargains and store them away for Christmas. But, even in December there are bargains to be had. You can also check out any clearance outlets near you or sign up to their newsletters so that you'll be in the know when they have a sale.
  • Compare offers - Some stores match or beat competitors' deals, so compare their offers and take all the details with you when you go into the store. Don't be afraid to ask for a discount - you might just get a Christmas miracle!
  • Second-hand bargains - Op shops, antique stores and second-hand bookshops can be a treasure trove for the thrifty Christmas shopper. If you're prepared to spend the time looking through their stock, you can often find good quality items at a fraction of the price you'd pay at big name stores.

9. Shop like you're Santa

Santa is always well-prepared and does his shopping on time, so why don't you? If you are going to shop in-store, consider these rules-of-thumb to reduce Christmas shopping stress and limit the temptation to over-spend:

Set a time limit on your shopping - Get in, get it done and get out, so you aren't tempted to spend more than you want to:
  • Shop at odd hours - Take advantage of extended trading hours and go when it's less crowded so you can choose carefully without having to jostle for space.
  • Buy less expensive stuff first - If you buy larger and more costly items first you can lose perspective on what is a good price, so set your budget, buy small first, and then tackle the big stuff so you stick to your gift budget.
  • Pre-pay - If you buy online, check if there's an option to pick up in-store. You'll save on freight, skip any lines, and there will be less temptation to buy more.
  • Limit your shopping locations - Only go to shops that you need to visit so you don't get distracted and impulse buy.

10. Give to those less fortunate than yourself

Spread the Christmas cheer by giving to those who are doing it tough. Consider donating to a charity on someone else's behalf and give this to them as a gift. As well as money, many charities also accept household items, clothes and groceries at Christmas, or you could volunteer your time to help them out.

11. Lighten your load on Christmas day

The costs of entertaining can skyrocket at this time of year. But, with some simple planning, both you and your wallet can enjoy the fruits of your labour. Here are some ways to lighten the Christmas load:

  • Share the catering - Even if you're hosting Christmas Day lunch or dinner, there's no need to shoulder all the work yourself. Ask others to bring nibblies, drinks, salads or desserts.
  • Buy only what you need - It can be easy to overestimate how much food you'll need at Christmas, only to end up throwing some away or eating leftovers for days.
  • Switch supermarkets - Make a list of the groceries you need for Christmas, then take advantage of the competition between supermarkets by checking out the advertised specials and stocking up. Don't buy everything at the same shop if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. You might even get better deals at your local butcher or fruit shop.
  • Use loyalty credits - If you belong to a supermarket loyalty scheme that builds up credit after you've spent a certain amount, check if you can use the credit to get a discount on your Christmas grocery shop.

12. Plan for next Christmas early

Once this Christmas is done and dusted, start planning ahead for next year! Here are some ideas to make sure you are set up for next Christmas:

  • Start saving now - Open a high interest savings account in January and contribute a small amount to it every payday. Saving $20 per week will add up to over $1,000 in a year's time.
  • Shop the sales - Shop for presents throughout the year, especially during sales. This will spread your costs and make them more manageable.
  • Layby - Pre-plan larger gifts and layby them a few months ahead so you can pay them off over time.

 

So, there you have our top 12 tips to saving yourself some time, money and stress this Christmas.

 

From our family at Fox Finance Group to yours, we hope you have a very Merry Christmas and enjoy a prosperous 2020.


Author: Nathan Drew, Fox Finance Group
About: Managing Director - Fox Finance Group
Connect via: LinkedIn

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