‘Tis the Season – 5 tips to manage holiday spending!

‘Tis the Season – 5 tips to manage holiday spending!

Ahhh, the Christmas season! It’s such a nice time of year to spend with family and friends – and all the gift giving and entertaining that comes with it! It can be easy to get carried away (in many ways) and it can be an expensive time of year if you aren’t careful. Here are a few tips that will help you keep your credit card bills sane this holiday season.

1. Make a Budget

There are lots of incidentals during the holiday season that we forget to include in our budget. It’s just so easy to walk into Bunnings, see all the pretty Christmas lights and decorations and then walk out with your wallet considerably lighter and sausage sizzle in hand! Then there’s all the food and drink, gifts for family, friends, co-workers and the nextdoor neighbour’s kids and even new clothes to wear to Christmas parties.

Making a proper budget is a great way to avoid overspending. Think seriously about how much money you can actually afford to spend and make a worksheet that itemises where you will be allocating the funds. Keep a running total of your actual spending so you can tweak your budget and find ways to cut back if you spend too much on any one area.

2. Plan Ahead

Once you’ve decided on a budget, make a plan on how you will go about spending it. Whilst there are a brave few who seemingly enjoy going to the 24 hour shopping events, leaving things to the last minute often means we are less discriminating about prices because there’s no time to shop around. Shopping late is the number one culprit in blowing the budget, and planning ahead gives you extra time to save for your purchases.

The second most common budget buster is ‘self gifting’ – where you lose patience with the idea of waiting to see what Santa will bring you and splurge on gifts for yourself when you should be shopping for others. It’s fun to shop for yourself, but wait for the sales after Christmas and get real bang for your buck!

3. Make your “naughty” and “nice” lists (AKA shopping lists)

With a budget worksheet, you will have allocated funds to each area of spending, including food shopping and gifts. These tend to be the areas where spending gets out of hand. Because you totally need that Christmas pudding that no-one ever eats because Christmas pudding is the worst, but it just wouldn’t be Christmas without one! Does that sound familiar?

Sit down and make a careful list of everything you need to buy. Compare the list to your budget and cross off unnecessary items if the price of your shopping list exceeds your budget. Once you have a comprehensive list, stick to it.

4. Avoid Temptation

When shopping for gifts, it’s easy to be tempted into buying more than you planned for. The holiday music, the relaxed vibe, the festive cheer – that’s why the shops do it of course. Resist temptation by researching your shopping list to find out exactly where you need to go to make your purchases and avoid going to stores you don’t need to visit. I’m probably going to get in trouble for this…but if you’re a woman you need to shop like a man! And if you’re a man…you need to shop like a…I don’t know…like a shark! Walk into the shop with a laser-like focus, avoid all salespeople (although they seemingly avoid consumers anyway) and get in and out!

Of course, we all know that shopping online is a good way to stick to your budget – you can shop around for the best prices without ever leaving home. You also save on incidental shopping expenses like petrol, parking, lunch and snacks. Just make sure to give yourself enough time for postage!

5. Get Crafty!

I really like the idea of creating a festive season pressie in the kitchen. Everyone loves a homemade gift – especially one you can eat! This can also be a lovely way of spreading the festive cheer with your family and involving the kids.

We’re all about sharing and caring at Orion Financial Group so what are your tips for spending less during the holidays? Here’s a few I can think of: reusing Christmas decorations instead of buying new ones, consider using loyalty points to buy gifts if you have them, get on eBay or Gumtree for some bargains and doing a family Secret Santa instead of buying individual gifts for everyone. Share your tips with our community on Facebook and/or Twitter and get the ideas flowing!

Sacha Loutkovsky
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