It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Or at least at the shops – with all their earlier-every-year decorations – it is.
But with one month to go, now is actually the time to stop it becoming a potentially cruel money yule and instead make this year a festive financial joy.
Also read: Consumer mood lifts ahead of Black Friday
Now is, in fact, when you need to act to avoid a debt hangover that could last well into the New Year.
A new Finder survey reveals 23 percent of Australians intend to cover Christmas costs with credit… that’s 4.5million Aussies.
But there are far better, cheaper ways. Here are five hacks that can save Christmas.
Hack 1: Don’t after pay, prepay
Finder’s survey says the average Aussie expects to splurge $1,232 each these holidays. Millennials will splash out the most at $1,518.
But concerningly, 14 percent intend to fund Christmas with a traditional credit card, while 7 percent will use buy-now-pay-later players including Afterpay and ZIP to cover their festive expenses.
Tempting though it is to kick the ‘cost’ can down the road, it is also too easy to lose track of how much you are up for in a month… or in instalments each fortnight.
This is especially so if you use multiple buy-now-pay-later services. Equally, if you have a large credit card limit.
There is still time to take advantage of the alternative: good old-fashioned layby. Many department stores and larger retail outlets still offer this and you can keep track of your spend, as well as keep a lid on it.
This is the perfect strategy for those who are in a decent position thanks to pandemic lockdowns, and will use savings to fund their Christmas fun.
Be so careful with committing cash you haven’t yet earned.
Which brings me to…
Hack 2: Avoid escalating present expense
Key to curbing what you spend is simply having a plan. In particular, have a plan for typically the largest seasonal expense: presents.
We are said to be expecting to outlay $374 each on gifts, says Finder (with women apparently forking out 39 percent more than men).
Having said that, there has been a movement over the past few years to buy one present of decent quality rather than lots of little, more disposable ones.
Secret Santa – or the way-funny Stealing Santa – is perhaps one of the best ways of doing this.
In any case, agree with your family a budget for each present and stick to it. If it’s just one present you buy, that budget could be, say, $50… saving you an apparent $324 on presents.
Still talking gifts…
Hack 3: Agree to give vouchers
Another really effective Christmas-day cost-cutter takes similar agreement upfront: you could all give vouchers of a certain value and then all hit the Boxing Day sales.
This way, everyone gets to spend less and gets more. All it requires is a quick conversation and concurrence upfront.
Of course, kids won’t want vouchers. And it won’t work for some families for adults either.
In these situations…
Hack 4: Bag the discounts
Do your best to source presents in sales and on discount websites, while there is still time for deliveries to arrive.
Don’t forget either that mass discount day Black Friday is tomorrow and Cyber Monday, next week.
Finally, let’s get onto the important matter of food…
Hack 5: MasterChef the meal
Okay, you don’t have to all go racing then rating each dish, but each being responsible for a part of the meal is just sensible.
It is far too much pressure on one person, or one family, to prepare an entire huge meal for potentially a lot of people anyway.
Share the load and get everyone invested by making their hero dish.
We did have a couple of guests one year whose hero dish was the same: trifle. So we held a blind ‘trifle-off’, scored out of 10 by all the other guests, that added entertainment too!
Then, get creative with the leftovers and eat free for days. Turkey curry anyone?
Make this Christmas your most low-spending and highest enjoyment yet.