Here are some easy ways to spread Christmas cheer without blowing your budget.
In the lead-up to Christmas, make lists of the things you need to buy and the food you need to prepare for the festive season. Having lists will help you plan your spending and keep you on track.
Don’t wait for a sale, seek out your Christmas bargains on gifts and food by scouring advertising catalogues and checking for any online offers.
Some stores match or beat competitors’ deals so compare their offers and keep all the details with you when you are in the store. Don’t be afraid to ask for a discount as you might just get a Christmas miracle!
Discount outlet shopping centres, factory seconds stores or second-hand retailers are other places where you might be able to bag a Christmas bargain. But check the terms and conditions of purchase in case you can’t return the item if you need to. See the ACCC’s rules on refunds and returns.
Also, make sure you don’t have to spend more than you are comfortable with, in order to qualify for any discounts advertised.
If you’re Christmas shopping online, try to save every cent. Before you start, do a web search for discount or coupon codes that you can use at the checkout. Look at the sales sections of retailers’ websites to see what’s on offer, and look for items or shopping days where they offer free shipping.
If you know what you’re looking for, search for the item online instead of going directly to one retailer’s website. You might find it much cheaper somewhere else.
Search online auction websites where you can ‘bid’ for items, including supplies you need for Christmas day.
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 and you might be sorry you didn’t go to a store to get the item.
If you are travelling at Christmas, shop around online to get the best deal on flights and travel insurance. Try to book early to avoid paying a premium for last minute bookings or peak season increases.
Things are often much cheaper online than in a store, but you do need to take extra precautions when shopping online.
If you have a rewards card that you have been using through the year to collect points, Christmas is a great time to cash these in. Check your balance and see what you can get.
In the lead up to Christmas, keep an eye out for items you need that earn more points so you can build up your balance. Also look for discounts that might be offered through your existing insurer or credit card provider for particular retailers.
Just be aware that reward schemes can sometimes cost you more than the reward is worth.
If you follow your favourite brands and retailers on social media, you may be able to get exclusive discounts through these social channels. Their newsletters may also alert you to sales and deals.
There are also lots of discount or deal apps that you can use to find bargains on things on your Christmas list.
Before you buy any deal or discount always check the terms and conditions to make sure you know what you are getting and make sure the website is legit. See the ACCC’s SCAMwatch website for tips on how to pick an online shopping scam.
Rather than spending up big to fill the Christmas stockings, get creative with your gifts! Here are some ideas:
Santa is always well-prepared and does his shopping on time so why don’t you? If you are going to shop in-store, consider these rules-of-thumb to reduce Christmas shopping stress and limit the temptation to overspend:
Keeping track of your festive spending is the best way to avoid going over your budget this Christmas.
Use MoneySmart’s TrackMySPEND app to nominate a spending limit for different types of Christmas expenses and track your progress while you shop.
Spread the Christmas cheer by giving to those who are doing it tough. Consider donating to a charity this Christmas. As well as money, they may also accept household items, clothes and groceries, or you could volunteer your time to help them out.
Another option is to consider giving blood. The holiday season is when blood banks need your help the most.
If you have something around the house you’ve been meaning to get rid of and sell, Christmas is the time to do it. Look around your home and see what you could on-sell. It might be furniture, clothes, or jewellery.
As well as second-hand sale websites, there may also be a local buy-swap-sell in your area. Your unwanted item could make someone else’s Christmas extra special, and bag you some extra cash.
If you are hosting Christmas this year, plan your menu with in-season produce as it’s usually cheaper and fresher. If you can, buy in bulk and freeze or store in the lead up to Christmas.
Share the load by asking others to bring or make something, so that you aren’t stuck with all the work and a big food bill. And don’t go overboard on food for Christmas – it’s just one day, after all.
Once this Christmas is done and dusted you should plan ahead for next year. Here are some ideas to help make sure you are set up for next Christmas:
What you need to know:
Source: Reproduced with the permission of ASIC’s MoneySmart Team. This article was originally published at www.moneysmart.gov.au
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