Have a stress-free Christmas this year with these budgeting hacks
Break your budget over Christmas? Here are some tips to reduce your spending this Christmas and how you can start saving right now.
Do you have a spending hangover following Christmas? Every year it's the same. We head into November with the best intentions to get everything we need for Christmas while sticking to our budget, but come December it's all derailed. We've underestimated how much things cost. We've missed the late-November Black Friday sales (again). And there are always those few extra gifts you've forgotten to budget for (last-minute Secret Santa at work, anyone?).
By using the right tools and taking some time to prepare now, you can ensure your festive season this year is more relaxing and less expensive, without needing to compromise. Here are five tips to help you do just that:
1. Take advantage of online coupon codes
A lot of us do our Christmas shopping online. Not only can it be more convenient, but it gives you access to a lot more retailers that might not have a physical store in your area. Remember, just because an online merchant isn't advertising a sale it doesn't mean there aren't discounts available using an online promo code.
There are hundreds of thousands of these discount codes floating around on the Internet waiting to be found and used by savvy shoppers. Whether it's a code for 20% off your purchase or a coupon that entitles you to free shipping, a quick Google search before you buy could save you a lot of money this Christmas.
2. Pay for big-ticket items in instalments
No matter how good you are with your budget in the first 11 months of the year, cash flow can quickly become a problem in December with all the increased expenses. This is particularly true if you have a few big-ticket presents to buy.
If you don't want to resort to dipping into your savings and don't think a credit card is right for you, using a buy now pay later platform could help you manage your spending over the expensive festive season. For example, a platform like humm allows you take home the item now and pay it off in smaller slices – either weekly or fortnightly repayments – with no interest. This means you can buy the things you need while spreading out the cost of your Christmas spending over several weeks or months. There's also an option to buy "bigger things" up to $30,000.
3. Use an automated savings tool
We all tend to spend more over the Christmas and New Year period than we normally would. Christmas shopping for friends and family is just one part of it. There's also all the end-of-year lunches, the travel costs and the nights out with friends we haven't seen all year. By using a round-up tool that automatically tops up your savings each time you make a purchase, you can spend your way through the silly season and know that your savings are getting a boost, too.
For example CUA's Savings Top Up tool will automatically transfer an amount of your choice from your CUA everyday account to your linked savings account whenever you spend over $10. Another option is a micro-investing app such as Raiz, which rounds up your transactions to the nearest dollar amount and adds the spare change to an investment portfolio on your behalf.
4. Ask about price-matching when shopping in-store
Isn't it annoying when you find an item online that's on sale, but it's still full price when you go to the physical store? Yes, shopping online can be convenient but there are just some things that you want to buy in-store. This is especially true for last-minute Christmas shopping, when buying online might mean it doesn't arrive in the mail before Christmas Day.
This Christmas, before you purchase anything in-store make sure you have a quick check in the online store first. If you find the same item on sale in the online store, you can show this at the checkout and ask the store to match the price. If it's the same retailer, more often than not it'll be happy to give you the discounted online price. But if you don't ask, you won't receive.
5. Put money away for this Christmas, now
Preparing for Christmas this year is likely to be the very last thing on your mind, but it's definitely something worth considering. And I'm not talking about buying your Christmas ham and making mince pies 12 months in advance. I'm talking about your finances.
For example, opening a 12-month term deposit now means you'll get access to the money this time next year which is sure to help with that spending hangover. Having some money locked away in a term deposit you can't access is great way to prevent you from using the money for impulse purchases throughout the year. And not only will you get your initial deposit back, but you'll earn interest on your money too. Your future self will thank you for it.
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