Tips for Controlling the Budget at Christmas
Keeping track of spending can be a challenge at the best of times, but never more so than during the holiday season. Along with the cost of gifts and Christmas day festivities, there’s often an increase in social activities in the lead up to Christmas and continuing throughout the holiday season. It’s fun but it certainly adds up.
Here’s a few tips that will hopefully help make the most expensive time of the year less challenging on the wallet but still allow you to enjoy yourself.
Set a budget!
According to the Australian National Retailers Association Aussie shoppers will spend more than $29.6 billion this festive season. Many will put a large portion of their spending on their credit cards. Assuming 18 percent interest, and making only the minimum payment each month, it could take three years to pay this year’s holidays off! To avoid paying 2013 off in 2016, you need to get your budget sorted. Start by setting a limit per person and stick to that limit. Try to make all of your purchases with cash where you can.
If you haven’t already finished your Christmas gift buying, then make a list of everyone you need to buy for (or download an iPhone app that does it for you) and set a dollar limit for each person. Make a list and check it twice. Ensure you have covered everyone. Last minute gift buying can be expensive and can look like what it is, an afterthought . The trick here is not to exceed your budgeted amount, no matter how tempting the bargains. If you’ve already bought all your gifts, then well done you!
Food and alcohol
This is one of the hidden costs of the festive season. We tend to eat out more, entertain more, and drink a lot more than usual! Another takeaway meal here, a few more after work champagnes there, and before you know it, you’ve spent hundreds of dollars more than you intended. So, by all means, eat out with your friends and family but try to choose places that are inexpensive and alternate all those alcoholic drinks with water. Your body will thank you too.
Having fun over the Christmas break doesn’t have to cost a lot. Well, not all the time anyway. So set yourself a spending-money budget and then fit your activities to suit it. It’s a pretty straightforward concept, the hardest part is making sure you stick to it!
If you haven’t already set up a Christmas bank account, then it’s probably a little late now, but setting one up for next year is a really good idea. Taking funds out of these sorts of accounts during the year is generally a bit more difficult than normal accounts, so there is an incentive to keep money there. Putting aside just a few dollars each week for the entire year can really add up and help take the stress out of the festive season.
This is a good option if money is tight. Members of a family are randomly assigned a person to whom they anonymously give a gift. It can be a lot of fun and isn’t that what the festive season should be about?
Why not create your own gifts? It’s always nice to receive something that has been made especially with you in mind, something handmade and unique. So get out your biscuit cutters, needle and thread, or hammer and nails, and give a gift that will really be appreciated for many years to come.
Leave your emotions home
It can be easy to get caught up in the fun of giving gifts, especially to children. Try to leave your emotions at home when you go shopping, otherwise you’ll be tempted to buy unnecessary items. Four of the most common emotional buying triggers are convenience, envy, security, and elation. The key is to know and recognise these triggers while you’re out shopping. Whenever you’re faced with a significant unplanned purchase, try to go home and think about it for 24 hours before making your decision. You might be surprised how quickly you change your mind!
Keep your receipts
You probably monitored your expenses for several weeks or even months to make a budget. Once the budget is made though it can be tempting to stop keeping up with every little expense. But keeping track really can help you stick to your budget. Save your receipts, and write down the places you spend money. You’ll be less likely to overspend if you realise how much money has actually gone through your hands.
How do you control your holiday spending?