As the end of the year creeps up and the festive season begins, we start to put a lot of pressure on ourselves to provide the very best for our friends and family. But in doing so, we often forget what this time of year is all about, and ultimately get caught up in the madness of shopping, parties, and decorations. We can’t resist the urge to splurge on “emergency” guest food and impulse buy those extra decorations. And that doesn’t even begin to describe the stress of purchasing the perfect presents for our loved ones, and prepping ourselves for the two most hectic weeks of the year.
So how can we focus on the merry, happy-giving side of the festive season while still providing meaningful gifts for our loved ones? We’ve got you covered with our valuable tips and tricks that can help turn your holidays from a financial excess into a financial success, and lead you into a joyful New Year.
Preparation is key
If you spend without a limit when it comes to gift giving, you’re not alone – a whopping 73% of us don’t budget for presents in Australia.i However, there’s good reason for you to create a budget this festive season – and not just for presents, but for the additional spending on food, drinks and socialising as well. Not only will this help you avoid overspending, and dodge some of that painful credit card debt you may have previously experienced in the New Year, it can also help you focus on providing experiences and memories that money can’t buy.
To guide you on your merry way, our Holiday Planner has been designed to help you curb those holiday spending urges. Inclusive of lists and budgets for gift giving, and guides to help you organise your festive menu, this planner will give you a clearer focus on what you need to purchase this festive season, and minimise the time you spend endlessly browsing stores.
While it’s hugely beneficial to plan ahead and budget for all of your holiday expenses, it’s just as important to monitor your spending and ensure you’re actually sticking to your budget. That’s why our Holiday Planner includes a running total to help you keep track of your spending, and may even reveal where you can afford some wriggle room to treat yourself to something nice.
It’s important you have a clear idea on how much you can truly afford to spend these holidays, and how this will be financed. If you’ve finished filling out your Holiday Planner and realise you don’t have enough on hand (e.g. in your savings account) to cover everything you would ultimately love to provide this festive season, first have a look at where you can cut down some of your spend. You may come to find you don’t need those extra decorations (the ones you purchased last year will do just fine), and you may decide that a thoughtful, well-chosen gift for that special someone will mean a lot more than a flashy and expensive new gadget.
If you’re still finding yourself dipping into the red, you can set aside some cash from each pay cheque in the lead up to the holidays. This stash will help you build up a much-needed pool of savings to cover those extra expenses you otherwise couldn’t really afford.
If you do plan on using a credit card to finance your holiday spend, try to ensure you can pay the balance off in full when the bill arrives in the New Year. You don’t want to be hit with a bad case of holiday debt hangover when January rolls around, and then have it lingering for months accruing costly interest.
Don’t be fooled this silly season
It’s easy to get caught up in the consumer frenzy at this time of year. The media encourages us to equate spending with generosity, making buying a real emotional issue.
From TV shows and movies about the perfect festive season, to department store ads encouraging us to give that special someone ‘what they really deserve’, there’s no wonder Australians spend billions every year over the holiday season – an average spend of $1325 per person in fact.ii
In recent years, another player has snuck into the market and expertly contributed to this spending frenzy. Social media ads have increasingly ramped up online, and have led more than a third of Aussies to make impulse purchases that they otherwise would not have made.iii
Social media ads can be highly targeted towards an individual’s interests, which makes them even more tempting during this season of giving. By remaining vigilant of these targeted ads, you can reduce the temptation of impulse buying things that you didn’t initially have on your wish list.
Avoid buying now, paying much more later
During this time of year, there’s no denying the pressure to ‘shop till we drop’, or these days, until we fill our online shopping carts to the max. What’s of most concern, however, is that Aussies are regularly relying on money that they don’t have to make online purchases. In fact, 30 percent of credit card holders have accumulated more debt when shopping online compared to shopping in-store.iv
This debt can be increasingly attributed to the proliferation of ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) services, which are burning big holes in the pockets of Australians. The ease and convenience of opting for bite sized scheduled payments has certainly taken Australia by storm, but the downside is that it’s incredibly easy to bite off more than you can chew, and miss a payment.
Unlike credit card providers, most BNPL services do not check your credit history or ability to make repayments. If you’re unable to stick to your repayment schedule, you’ll be liable for late fees. Keeping this in mind, take a moment to consider your spending habits this festive season. Before your next BNPL purchase, question whether you’re using this service for a specific item on your Holiday Planner, or if you’re simply browsing and buying out of habit and convenience.
The holidays will always be a stressful time – balancing a busy workload with buying presents, while keeping up with all of the different festive celebrations. The joy of “retail therapy” is easily lost in the madness of last minute shopping, and you’re also more likely to overspend in an effort to purchase everything on time. By taking these simple yet effective steps to help you prepare ahead of time, you’ll not only remain on track with your spending and avoid the mad holiday rush, you’re also more likely to enjoy this merry season and spending time with friends and family.
i FPA, 2019. Gifts that Give – Research Into Australian Gift-Giving. Retrieved from https://www.moneyandlife.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/FPA_Gifts-That-Give-Research-Report-2019_V3.0-Final.pdf
ii Finder.com.au, 2018. Australia’s Christmas Spending 2018. Retrieved from https://www.finder.com.au/christmas-spending-statistics-2018
iii ING, 2019. ‘Social shopping’ costing Aussies $16 billion a year. Retrieved from https://newsroom.ing.com.au/social-shopping-costing-aussies-16-billion-a-year/
iv CouriersPlease. 2019. 5 habits of online shoppers: Aussies spend less, buy more when purchasing online. Retrieved from https://www.couriersplease.com.au/about/media-release
The information and any advice in this article does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and so you should consider its appropriateness having regard to these factors before acting on it. When considering whether to acquire a financial product, before making any decision, you should obtain the relevant product disclosure statement.