Make this Chrissy magical without spending a fortune by following a few simple planning strategies. Eight steps is all it takes to save money and reach your holiday goals.
There’s no denying that much of Australia had to put their usual Christmas plans on hold in 2020, not only because of government restrictions on gatherings, but also because, for many, money has been tight. And this year it still might be. The good news is that doesn’t mean you can’t have a memorable festive season.
Presents account for a large proportion of Christmas spending – in fact, Australians are forecast to spend $11 billion1 on gifts alone this festive season – gift buyers expected to spend $726 each, while other costs loom as well. Put together a comprehensive Christmas budget worksheet for the summer period.
Don’t forget to factor in how these other expenses might impact your family:
With a clearer picture of how much this holiday season could cost you, it’s time to develop a plan to reach your savings goals.
Calculate how much money you need to put aside each week to meet your summer spending surge, then determine whether you can, realistically, reach this target.
Once you have an achievable plan in place, consider setting up or repurposing a separate account for your Christmas savings. Automate a weekly transfer from your day-to-day account to your Christmas account, so you don’t have to think about moving money around. Keep track of your progress – you may be able to reach your goal sooner than you planned.
Given lockdowns and restrictions over the last two years, it’s not surprising to hear that online shopping has surged across the country. In fact, it’s up more than 23%, year on yearii. While it can be fun wandering around stores over the festive season, this can also be a time and money waster.
Consider making a list of gift recipients this year and allocating a present idea to each of them. Do some online research to determine how much each Christmas gift might cost you, and whether that’s within your budget.
Christmas gifts on a low budget? Sometimes less is more – it’s better to keep your purchases meaningful or consider homemade gifts.
When it comes to buying Christmas gifts for friends and family in another city, state or country, consider retailers with a base in those destinations, to reduce delivery fees. Start planning and purchasing as early as possible – Christmas is a busy time of year for deliveries, this year more than ever, and growth in demand for online shopping may mean higher delivery fees for on-time arrival.
If you’re using Australia Post, familiarise yourself with suggested ‘send by’ dates to avoid the express fees and time delays due to the already stressed system.
You’re halfway through your 8-step Christmas savings challenge – it’s a good idea to review your savings and make sure your goals are on track. If you’re falling short, it’s time to either:
a) revisit your budget and decide where to cut back, or
b) explore ways to boost your savings. From selling extra ‘stuff’ you have lying around the house to discussing different plans with your utilities providers, there are plenty of novel ways to save more in a short period of time.
Take advantage of any pre-Christmas sales – but make sure you research those bargains first. Use the gift list you created, to avoid spontaneous and potentially budget-busting purchases.
Start by researching which retailers offer the best deals on these items. Do you need to travel across town to find an item (which will cost you time and money), or will a store near you match the price? Take your research digital and you may find a wider range and better deals in online stores, but be mindful of any delivery fees that may cancel out any bargains you find. By starting your Christmas shopping early, you might be able to snag some sizable discounts in the Black Friday sales.
You’ve put up the tree, stocked up on drinks and sent out the cards – let the fun part of the festive season begin. If you discover you’ve neglected someone but cannot bear the thought of heading back into the stores, consider purchasing gift cards or vouchers (or a charitable donation) online. They can be emailed directly to friends or family members and used for something they really need.
With your main purchases out of the way, it’s time to review your budget and check your Christmas savings account balance. Do you have enough for the Christmas groceries? extra entertainment? A cheeky present for yourself? A New Year’s Eve gathering?
Then again, it’s never too early to start saving for 2022… travel is back on the agenda, after all, and we’re all in need of a holiday.
©AWM Services Pty Ltd. First published October 2021
i Roy Morgan (September 2021): Countdown to Christmas – Australians set to spend over $11 billion on gifts
ii Australia Post (September 2021): Inside Australian Online Shopping