Keep your holiday budget under control

Rates and fees last updated on

It’s easy to overspend during the holidays, so here’s a quick guide on how to keep your holiday budget under control.

Holidays are a fun yet unpredictable time of the year and this makes them difficult to budget for. We often see the holidays as a special occasion and as such we tend to ignore the harsh realities of our financial situation, choosing instead to deal with debt once the holiday is over. It’s not uncommon to wake up at the end of the holidays and discover mounting credit card bills and debt and wonder how it all got so out of hand.

Budgeting is only the first step to keeping your debt and spending under control. You need to be constantly aware of your financial situation and see that you are actually sticking to the spending limits you set yourself. In order to control overspending, take a look at our guide on how to keep your holiday money under control.

  • Set a realistic budget

Just like we get carried away with spending, we can also get carried away when budgeting. There is no point setting a budget that you won’t be able to stick to. Have a look at your finances and even think about how much you spent last holidays (approximately), then set a budget that seems manageable.

  • Leave your card at home

One of the main reasons people overspend during the holidays is by going overboard on Christmas gifts or at holiday sales. One way to avoid this is by cutting your line of credit and leaving your card at home. Just bring the amount of cash you have budgeted to spend.

  • Remember your numbers

People often turn a blind eye to their financial problems and have an ‘I’ll deal with it later’ attitude, but this is how debts mount. After organising your budget, check it regularly. You can also check your account online to see how your credit cards and regular accounts are holding up.

  • Make plans and stick to them

If you are planning a day out with family or friends, organise how much you are going to spend beforehand. If you are going shopping, think of what you need and make a list to stick to. You should also check all of your banking accounts online before you leave just so your financial situation is fresh in your mind—this will go towards ensuring you don’t overspend.

  • Consider a credit card with a purchase rate offer

Credit cards with introductory purchase rate offers are a great option for holiday spending. These credit cards let you make purchases for up to 12 months with 0%p.a. interest charged. The key thing to remember with these cards is to try and pay back all of the money you owe before the purchase rate period ends.

  • Consider a balance transfer
  • Balance transfers are a great way to start paying off your credit card debt without incurring interest fees. A balance transfer involves moving the debt from one credit card to another one which offers a low or 0% p.a. rate. Compare credit cards with a 0% transfer rate using the table below.

    Things to avoid with holiday spending

    When trying not to overspend, there are some things that make sticking to a budget difficult. Here are some things to avoid when trying to save over the holidays.

    • Shopping in a mood

    Never go grocery shopping when you are hungry and never go shopping anywhere when you are in a mood. Whether that mood is happy, sad or carefree, if you know that mood will make you want to forget all about your budget and give your credit card a workout, then do yourself a favour and avoid the shops.

    • Shopping with someone who doesn’t care about your budget

    Your budget is yours to stick to and only you are aware of your financial needs and situation. Shopping with someone who either doesn’t need to budget or just doesn’t care about yours will not be a good influence on your spending habits.

    • Rewards credit cards

    If you are looking for a credit card to use over the holiday season, try and avoid a rewards credit card. These usually have higher rates of interest on purchases and the only way you make the most out of the card is by spending.

    • Going to sales without a plan

    Sales can be a great place to save money on purchases you need to make, but it also poses a significant danger for overspending. When we are inundated with sale prices and discounts we subconsciously think we are saving money, when in actual fact we are buying things we maybe don’t need for prices that maybe aren’t that good. If you are going to venture into sales territory, have a strict budget and stick to it.

    It's important to compare your travel money options. Review the table below to make an informed decision.

    Rates last updated December 16th, 2017
    Name Product Description Available Currencies ATM Withdrawal Fee Reload Fee Initial Load Fee
    Hold up to 10 different currencies and lock in your exchange rate. No transaction fees on purchases with a backup card in case one is lost or stolen.
    AUD 3.50, USD 2.50, GBP 2.00, EUR 2.20, NZD 4.50, CAD 3.00, HKD 20.00, SGD 4.00, THB 95, JPY 260
    Hold up to 11 currencies on the card and get a locked-in exchange rate. Use at home and overseas to rack up Qantas Points on eligible purchases.
    AUD 1.95, CAD 2.00, EUR 1.50, GBP 1.25, HKD 15.00, JPY 160, NZD 2.50, SGD 2.50, USD 1.95, THB 70.00, AED 6.50

    Overseas: $0. Although, some ATM operators may charge their own fees or set their own limits

    Domestic: 2.95% of the amount withdrawn

    The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AU$15.00
    The greater of 1.1% of the initial load / reload amount or AUD 15.00
    Load up and lock in up to 10 currencies and benefit from no fees for reloading funds. Comes with a secondary card for added security.

    Overseas: $0 per withdrawal via international ATMs

    Domestic: $3.75 fee applies


    Compare up to 4 providers

Jacob Joseph

Jacob is a writer and video journalist with finder.com.au. Credit cards, personal loans and savings accounts are his bread and butter, and he likes nothing more helping people understand the sometimes overly complex world of personal finance.

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