While it’s usually full of holidays, friends, family and well-earned rest, summer is also the most expensive season of the year.
According to Pocketbook research, the average Australian spends 30 per cent of their income on discretionary spending on normal days.
But during the holidays, that doubles to 60 per cent of their income. So here are five tips to help control silly season spending and avoid a financial hangover in 2015.
1. Make A Budget
Whether you have a big family or a small family, it can be tempting to have a huge blowout on gifts. The easiest way to avoid this is by setting a strict budget and sticking to it. Budgets tend to go out the window in the last-minute rush, so get organised and plan around your pay cycle.
Another great solution is to organise a Secret Santa so you only have to buy a gift for one person. It keeps costs down, and nobody misses out.
2. Plan Ahead
It’s always nice to stock up on Christmas goodies as you see them throughout the year, or even put aside $20 a week through the year so there’s a handy $1000 come Christmas time. But it’s already December, so if that hasn’t happened yet, don’t panic.
The biggest blow to your budget this silly season will be last-minute buys. Write a list for everyone you need to buy something for; friends, family, in-laws, co-workers, or neighbours. Write down ideas and a budget for each and stick to it.
And to avoid getting Christmas Eve panic, start now. There’s no need to grapple with crowded shopping centres and the fight for a car park if you do it all online.
If you’re hosting Christmas lunch, plan what you’ll need and don’t be shy when it comes to asking guests to bring a plate or a bottle of wine to share. Make it a potluck party so everyone brings something different; this will save time and spread the cost.
3. Get Creative
Don’t forget that Christmas isn’t all about the presents. It’s the thought that counts, and there’s much more value in giving a homemade cake rather than a pair of socks to the person who seems to have it all.
So whether it’s cooking up some treats in the kitchen, getting crafty with handmade trinkets or sewing some wearable gifts, think about what you can do creatively. Check out Pinterest and Etsy for some inspiration.
4. Use Cash
It sounds so simple, but paying by cash is one of the most effective ways to avoid a debt hangover in the New Year.
Swiping a credit card multiple times means it’s easy to lose track of what you’ve bought until the dreaded bill comes. According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, Christmas credit card debt often peaks in February and this year it rose to $50 billion.
So withdraw a certain amount from the ATM and once it’s gone, stop shopping. Again, this is easier to do when there’s a shopping list and a budget. It also helps to save receipts so you have a physical record of exactly how much you’ve spent.
5. Find The Discounts
Don’t let those savvy shopping skills go out the door come December. Whether it’s a one-off find at a flea market, a flash sale online, or a bargain bin at a much-loved store, it’s all about shopping around and never paying full price for anything.
Sign up to get email alerts from your favourite stores, check the sales racks once you’re in a store (usually towards the back), and keep an eye out for things like free shipping online.
Nail these five tips and you’ll be well on your way to saving this silly season.