Keep your budget at bay – Advice Corner

Before the silly season kicks into full swing, now is the time to plan how you will manage your finances and avoid blowing the budget.

Make a list and check it twice
Now is the time to make a list of the things you need to buy and the events you will be attending. Having lists will help you calculate a budget for what you can allocate your funds to.

Presents – List who you’re buying for, what you want to buy, and how much money you’ve allocated for each person. Refer to catalogues for ideas and pricing, have your list with you when you go shopping so that you know exactly what you need to buy and how much you have allocated.

Food supplies for Christmas/Boxing Day – List what you want to buy and where from. Buy in advance where possible to take advantage of specials, especially if the items can be frozen or have a long shelf life.

If you are travelling – List costs like flights, car service/tyre check, petrol and travel insurance. If you’re driving somewhere, think about what day is best to fill up on petrol and do it the week before Christmas.

If you are socialising – List any catch ups and parties that you plan on attending. Calculate an average amount that you can spend and order food and drinks that are within the budget.

Be a shopping superstar
Seek out your Christmas bargains on gifts and food by reading through advertising catalogues or online search for the item. More often than not, stores will price match or beat competitors’ deals so compare their offers and keep all the details with you when you are in the store – be sure to check that the item is in stock before asking a store to price match. Don’t be afraid to ask for the best price as retailers rely on this time of year for boosted income! Check the terms and conditions of purchase in case you can’t return the item if you need to.

Also, make sure you don’t have to spend more than you are comfortable with, in order to qualify for any discounts advertised.

Stalk out the best online deals
If you’re Christmas shopping online, do a web search for discount or coupon codes that you can use at the checkout, you should also subscribe to retailer newsletters and/or follow their social media channels as you will receive alerts for flash sales and deals.

If you know what you’re looking for, search for the item through your preferred search engine instead of going directly to one retailer’s website. The search engine will return multiple results from sites around the internet, you might find it much cheaper somewhere else.

Make sure you include any shipping costs when you are comparing prices. The cost of some items can blow out once you add shipping costs.

Redefining the art of gift of giving
Materialistic items don’t have to be the way to go when gift giving, instead get creative with your gifts! Here are some ideas:

  • Give a gift of food – Who wouldn’t love to receive a yummy slice, gingerbread house or favourite family treat, why not make something to give and create a personal, tasty gift.
  • Create a coupon – If you have a special skill or spare time to offer, give your family member or friend a coupon they can redeem at a later date.
  • Give a thoughtful experience – Take someone on a picnic, a driving tour, or plan a dinner date at home.
  • DIY it – Get crafty and make a personalised gift using stuff you already have – there are heaps of ideas online.
  • Create a digital Christmas card – Rather than spending money on buying and posting Christmas cards, record a family Christmas video greeting with your phone or write a personal newsletter and email it to your friends and loved ones.

Shop smarter not harder
If you are going to shop in-store, consider these rules-of-thumb to reduce Christmas shopping stress and limit the temptation to over spend:

  • Set a time limit on your shopping – Get in, get it done and get out so you aren’t tempted to spend more than you wanted to.
  • Shop during extended hours – Take advantage of extended trading hours and go when it’s less crowded so you can choose carefully.
  • Buy less expensive stuff first – If you buy larger and more costly items first you can lose perspective on what is a good price, so set your budget, buy the smaller first, and then tackle the big stuff so you keep to your budget.
  • Limit your shopping locations – Only go to shops that you need to so you don’t get distracted and impulse buy.

Give to those less fortunate

Consider donating to a charity this Christmas. As well as money, they may also accept household items, clothes and groceries. Another option is to consider giving blood. The holiday season is when blood banks need your help the most.

Trash and treasure

If you have something around the house that you no longer use and you are looking to get rid of or sell, Christmas is the time to do it. Look around your home and see what you could on-sell. It might be furniture, clothes, equipment or jewellery.

As well as second-hand sale websites, utilise buy-swap-sell social media pages in your local area. Your unwanted item could make someone else’s Christmas extra special, and bag you some extra cash.


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