We don’t want to alarm you… but there are less than 15 weeks until Christmas!
Now’s probably the time to start thinking about everyone you have to buy presents for: Mum, Dad, sister, brother… and for those wanting a pay rise, maybe even your boss?
For most of us, it’s a mad rush to buy presents at the eleventh hour, often without a budget in mind.
Then, there are the unscheduled catch-ups with friends at restaurants, pubs and clubs. The festive season is a lot of fun because you make the time to see people you couldn’t during your busy year. Breakfasts, brunches, lunches, after-work drinks and dinners become the perfect ways to share that Christmas spirit. But every long lunch and every round of Espresso Martinis adds up! That’s why a little bit of planning goes a long way towards starting the new year without a stocking full of Christmas debt.
Here are six simple ways to avoid a Christmas financial hangover:
1. Set a budget
2. Pay cash
3. Pay off credit cards – quickly!
4. Find the best deals
5. Don’t underestimate the power of a gift voucher
6. “Stalk” your spending
Set a budget
Your budget needs to include presents AND social catch-ups. Run a few scenarios where you’re having multiple catch-ups each week, for two or three weeks over Christmas. The numbers can be frightening! A simple budget will help you determine how much you have to spend and how to avoid it getting waaaaaay out of control.
Only spend what you have. It’s a reality check when you’re handing over actual money, rather than putting it on the Visa card and turning a blind eye to the debt lurking in the new year. Create a savings account and put away small amounts each week or fortnight. By the end of the year, you’ll have a nice little bonus that you can spend, guilt-free, at Christmas time!
Pay off your credit cards quickly
Credit cards come with very high interest rates, making them one of the most expensive ways to borrow money. The golden rule when using a credit card: only spend what you can afford to pay back before the next billing cycle. At the end of the day, it’s not glamorous to borrow money for a round of drinks. The drinks are gone in minutes, yet you could end up working overtime just to clear that debt in the new year.
Find the best deals
This requires planning ahead, because it’s unlikely you’ll get anything on sale the week before Christmas. Last-minute shopping means you’ll probably end up paying more for items, just because you haven’t got the time to see if they are cheaper down the mall. Plan what you want or need to buy, so you can allow enough time to compare prices… or even find something better than you first thought. The savings alone could pay for your entire Christmas celebrations!
Don’t underestimate the power of a gift voucher
On the surface, gift vouchers might seem a bit boring. But, if you’re buying for someone with very particular tastes, it’s win-win. You stay within your budget and they get to go shopping right after Christmas – when there are real savings to be had!
“Stalk” your spending
It’s so easy to get caught up in the giving nature of Christmas, by offering to buy a round of drinks for your friends… and their friends. Or presents for people you haven’t seen in years and probably won’t for another 10. Keep an eye on your spending and make sure it’s not creeping outside your original budget.
The festive season passes by pretty quickly when you’re having a good time, but the debt can hang around for months. These simple steps will help you to avoid the financial regret that follows a very merry Christmas!
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