We are a few days away from that special day of the year everyone looks to for spending time with family and friends, sharing special greetings, and exchanging thoughts and tokens of our love and appreciation. But like anything in life, it can be overdone.
Christmas is usually full of overindulgences and overspending. With it fast approaching, we recently took a moment in our virtual office over eggnog and and discussed Christmas savings strategies. Our team have pulled together some great tips to get you through the silly season without breaking the bank.
Set a budget
Set a budget for presents, food, booze, decorations and keep track as you go. Payment plans are pushed at every opportunity (interest free for 24 months etc), but remember that the more removed you are from parting with money, the easier it is to do. This also means, as a consumer, we are more likely to make impulse purchases if we don’t feel the immediate pain of spending. If you do use a payment plan, enter in knowing the full terms and conditions. When the first payment is due how the new payment will impact you and so on. If you are going to use your credit card, make sure you know your interest rates and consider switching to a better offer before you start the Christmas spending.
Gifts on a budget
Secret Santa is a great way to sort out presents for the adults. You can even use a random online generator like DrawNames to assign participants names randomly, anonymously and even create wish lists. Helpful when you pull the name of the person who has ‘everything’! Set an upper price limit per person to keep things fair. When you have a list of who you are buying for, have a clear plan of what you are buying and where. Remember that every year, millions are spent on unwanted gifts. Consider a charity donation on someone’s behalf as a gift, there are plenty of people in need over Christmas. Or, how about shifting away from ‘things’ to experiences? The instant gratification of physical gifts wears off quickly, but creating memories is something really special.
A penny saved
Make the most of discount codes, price matching, online deals and comparisons. Beware delivery costs when price comparing, sometimes the pricing breakdowns are not a transparent as they should be. One of our favourite Christmas money saving tips is to browse different websites and add the item you want to multiple checkout baskets but not make a payment. Retailers will often retarget these users who have abandoned their cart with pricing promotions to get you to return. You can get some great deals this way.
There is no better time to apply the rule of ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ than at Christmas. Start Christmas planning as early as you can to any avoid last minute costly panic buys.
Do it yourself
When was the last time you kept Christmas cards or reused wrapping paper? If you are wondering how to save money over Christmas, a bit of do it yourself is an easy win! Why not make your own cards and wrapping paper, especially if you have kids? They’ll love the festive fun and it doesn’t get an easier than butcher’s paper and a potato stamp cut out of a Christmas tree. You’ll keep the kids entertained for an hour or two and have unique wrapping paper. Everyone throws it out anyway. Or, save a tree, and make an eCard. Why not create a design using a template on an online app? Simply choose a Christmas themed template and drag and drop in a fun family photo and write some meaningful text. A personalized eCard outshines a $5 generic paper card that ends up in the bin any day.
Share the love and load
If you are hosting, one of the easiest ways to save money for Christmas is to assign everyone to bring a dish – desserts, cheese boards, drinks and so on. Don’t be stuck doing the dishes and footing the bill. Got a stack of supermarket loyalty card points? It’s time to use them.
Waste not want not
Another one of our favourite Christmas budgeting tips is to minimize food waste. If you can’t stomach the idea of turkey sandwiches for days, get creative. Do you make a great chicken curry? Do it with turkey or pork instead. Roasted vegetables make fabulous soups and turn that leftover cheese board into a beautiful pasta sauce. It’s extremely unlikely there will be any cheese board left over but you see where we are going with this. Resources and recipes are all over the space online. Check out some of the Christmas leftover recipes.
Keep an eye out for post-Christmas sales, Snag your decorations to save money for Christmas next year. Better still, get in early and bookmark Black Friday and Cyber Monday in your calendar for next year. Try getting your Christmas shopping done by end of November next year.
This time of year is also a time to reflect and make your financial planning strategy a priority for the new year. Christmas is definitely a time to spend with family, relax and unwind. With another year coming to an end, it’s also a great opportunity for reflection and the perfect time to get your finances in order. Start the new year as you mean to go on, with solid budgeting, investment strategy and financial life planning habits.
If you have any questions, it always a good time to get in touch with the financial life planning team at Northern River Financial. We can be instrumental in finding ways for you to move forward objectively and financially in Keeping Life Current.