Check out these tips for a financially savvy festive season so you can celebrate in style, without the worry of the January bill blues
12 tips for a financially savvy
By: Victoria O'Neill, Nov 2019
The decorations are up, invitations to end of year parties are landing in your inbox and mega mix playlists of your favourite carols are on loop. It’s definitely Christmas time!
As we look forward to spending quality time with friends and family members, there’s also the other type of spending to consider – will your credit card bill see you land on Santa’s naughty or nice list?
Check out our 12 tips for a financially savvy festive season so you can celebrate in style, without the worry of the January bill blues.
1. Christmas clear-out
Before you even think about hitting the shops this Christmas, have you had a look at what you already have at home? A pre-Christmas clear-out can help you to declutter, support families in need and may even allow you to make some extra cash to put towards gifts or food shopping.
Look for items that are in good condition, but no longer used or needed by the family. Furniture, electronic goods or sporting equipment can sell well online or you can donate these items to charity or community groups.
A simple way to help your children understand the spirit of Christmas could be to do a family reverse advent calendar – where they choose a toy each day in the lead up to Christmas to donate to families in need.
2. Set a budget, and stick to it
The holidays can really put a strain on the family’s finances if you’re not prepared. To keep on top of spending, setting a budget is a must. You can also use your budget as a planning list – so there are no forgotten items come Christmas morning.
To keep on top of spending, setting a budget is a must
Group your spending into separate categories and be as specific as you can, e.g.:
- Presents – who, what and how much will you spend on them?
- Entertaining – from groceries to gas for the BBQ, put it on the list! Don’t forget the extra supplies for when unexpected guests call in
- Everyday items are still needed at Christmas time. Whether it’s petrol, pet food or even toilet paper include these items part of your budget
3. Debit card advantage
Using your debit card can be a great way to stay on top of Christmas and holiday spending by making you stick to your budget.
The key is to make sure you know how much is in your account, so you don’t accidentally overdraw. If you and your partner are drawing from the same account, be sure to let the other know if they should be aware of any large purchases, or simply top up the cash available to avoid overspending.
4. Credit card
According to Finder.com, credit card use is on the rise in New Zealand, with nearly $4 billion of purchases made each month.
Each credit card will have its own advantages, rewards and pitfalls – so it’s important to understand the features to get the best value out of your card. The golden rule is to ensure that can cover the amount charged at the end of the month to avoid high interest rate charges and penalties.
5. Buy now, pay later
New services like Afterpay allow customers to pay for purchases in simple instalments. The service is free, provided all payments are made on time. If a payment is late, the penalties can be steep.
Be sure to keep a running list of items purchased using Afterpay and when payments are due to stay in the black!
6. Check loyalty points
If you’ve signed up to rewards programs now is the time to check and see if you have any credits or discounts available to put towards your purchases. Take the time to understand your status and how you can use the program to your advantage.
7. Subscribe for savings
Not a member, no worries. You might be time poor at Christmas, but it can be worth stopping to hear about retail rewards programs. Many stores will offer a discount for new members when they make their first or second purchase which can help you to make serious savings this Christmas.
8. Just ask
If you’ve seen an item online but would prefer to purchase it in store, don’t be put off by the difference in price. Ask the retailer in store if they will match the online price – if you don’t ask, you’ll never know!
9. Online opportunities and challenges
Can’t be bothered with the shops? Online shopping offers the advantage of choice and often lower prices, however, there are a few catches.
The first challenge is to ensure you will get what you pay for. Always check the terms and conditions for returns so you’re not stuck with an unwanted item.
The second is to check the delivery options. Look for delivery times and contact the retailer to confirm that orders will be delivered in time for Christmas.
The final online tip is to look out for delivery costs. Choose click and collect to avoid unnecessary delivery costs or carefully consider if it makes more financial sense to pay the delivery charge or add more items to your cart for free delivery.
10. Resist reactive buying
When you go to the shops, make sure you have a plan and stick to it. Avoid picking up the stocking fillers by the front counter that aren’t on your list. This goes for snacks and toys at the supermarket too!
11. Get creative
Wrapping paper and cards can be expensive. Make your gifts more personal this year by recycling wrapping paper, using kid’s artwork or environmentally friendly reusable options such as fabric or hessian.
12. Shop the post-Christmas sale
Get ahead for next Christmas by stocking up decorations and supplies (e.g. bon bons) during the post-Christmas sales.
For the family members who believe more is really more, a gift voucher for Christmas will let them get the most out of the sales.
The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Resimac. The above is general commentary only and is not advice tailored to any individual’s financial situation. We recommend seeking advice from a finance professional before implementing changes relating to your finances.