Sensible spending during the silly season

The holiday season is very expensive to say the least! It’s our favourite time of year for gift giving and it’s easy to get more than a little bit silly with the budget. When buying gifts for family, friends and loved ones, getting into the spirit of things can often mean getting carried away. Here’s a few tips that will help you keep your credit card bills sane this holiday season.

1. Make a budget.

There are lots of incidentals during the holiday season that we forget to include in our budget. We tend to go over the top on new decorations for our home, expensive food and drink, gifts for family and friends and even new outfits to wear at parties.

Making a proper budget is a great way to avoid overspending. Think seriously about how much money you can actually afford to spend and make a worksheet that itemises where you will be allocating the funds. Keep a running total of your actual spending so you can tweak your budget and find ways to cut back if you spend too much on any one area.

There are some simple ways to spend less during the holiday season. Think about reusing some of last year’s decorations. Spruce up an outfit with a few accessories instead of splurging on a new one. Ask your guests to bring a plate when you entertain, instead of bearing the financial burden of providing everything yourself.

2. Plan ahead.

Once you’ve decided on a budget, make a plan on how you will go about spending it. Leaving things to the last minute often means we are less discriminating about prices because there’s no time to shop around. Shopping late is the number one culprit in blowing the budget, and planning ahead gives you extra time to save for your purchases.

The second most common budget buster is ‘self gifting’. That’s where you lose patience with the idea of waiting to see what Santa will bring you – splurging on gifts for yourself when you should be shopping for others. Remind yourself to be patient and trust that Santa will drop something down the chimney with your name on it!

3. Make shopping lists.

With your budget worksheet, you will have allocated funds to each area of spending, including food shopping and gifts. These tend to be the areas where spending gets out of hand.

Sit down and make a careful list of everything you need to buy. Compare the list to your budget and cross off unnecessary items if the price of your shopping list exceeds your budget. Once you have a comprehensive list, stick to it.

4. Avoid temptation.

When shopping for gifts, it’s easy to be tempted into buying more than you planned for. Resist temptation by researching your shopping list to find out exactly where you need to go to make your purchases and avoid going to stores you don’t need to visit.

Shopping online is a good way to stick to your budget – you can shop around for the best prices without ever leaving home. You also save on incidental shopping expenses like petrol, parking, lunch and snacks.

If you must go to the shops, leave your credit card at home to avoid the temptation of overspending. A credit card hangover from the festive season can last for several months and you could end up paying a lot more for your shopping when you add in credit card interest.

5. Get crafty.

Instead of buying gifts this year, why not create a festive season pressie in the kitchen? Everyone loves a homemade gift – especially one you can eat!

Use these handy tips and you will stay sensible during the silly season this year! To make it even easier, we’ve located some handy phone apps to help you with your budgeting. Have a great festive season and a happy New Year.

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