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Festive frugality: 10 million Australians under bill stress this Christmas

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It's shaping up to be an expensive Christmas as Australian families struggle to keep costs down, according to new research from Finder.

A nationally representative survey of 1,114 respondents revealed the majority of Australians (53%) will struggle to cover expenses this Christmas.

That's equivalent to 10.6 million Australians who will be in bill stress over the holiday period.

Groceries (33%), petrol (24%) and energy (19%) round out the top 3 bills Aussies will grapple with over Christmas.

More than 1 in 10 (14%) will face pressure with rental payments, while 11% will find it hard to pay off credit card debt.

Graham Cooke, head of consumer research at Finder, said Australians have faced record inflation pushing up the cost of food, electricity and petrol.

"High household costs have left some Aussies with the tough decision as to whether they put food on the table or presents under the tree this Christmas.

"Money might be tight this year but there are still ways to have a great Christmas with friends and family."

Households in NSW will struggle the most (56%), followed by VIC (52%) and QLD (45%).

Finder analysis revealed that, despite record inflation, a Christmas lunch can be purchased for less than it cost 7 years ago.

Notable reductions included ham (from $9 to $8.50 per kg), mince pies ($5 to $2.75) and white rolls ($3.50 to $2.85).

Cooke encouraged Aussies to be frugal with their spending over Christmas.

"Plan out your spending for the Christmas season and try to avoid unnecessary splurging.

"Shop early and avoid last-minute purchases. This can help you avoid the crowds and the temptation to overspend."

Cooke said families could consider alternative gift-giving options, such as making your own gifts or doing a Secret Santa.

"Prioritise your bills and focus on paying the most important ones first. If money is particularly tight, contact your creditors and explain your situation. They may be able to offer you a payment plan or temporary relief.

"Take care of yourself. The holiday season can be stressful, so make sure to take time for yourself and prioritise your mental health. This can help you stay calm and focused, which can make it easier to manage your finances," Cooke said.

Which of the following do you think you'll struggle to pay for over the Christmas period?
Groceries33%
Petrol24%
Energy19%
Rent14%
Credit card11%
Mortgage10%
Mobile phone9%
Car insurance7%
Home internet6%
Health insurance5%
Personal loan4%
None of the above47%
Source: Finder survey of 1,114 respondents, November 2022

To find out how much the cost of a Christmas lunch compares to the last few years, check out Finder's Christmas lunch prices 2022.

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