(OK, we know it’s October, but it’s time to hark what the Herald angels sing and start planning)
There are only 11 Mondays left before Christmas. Scary, right?
If the thought makes your eyeballs widen and your wallet worry, perhaps it’s because last Christmas left you feeling financially stressed.
By planning in advance and putting these simple tips in to action, you’ll give yourself the best chance possible to make Christmas a time of joy.
There are even specific savings accounts that can help set you on the right path.
1. Know how much you need – have a think about how much money you ideally need set aside to pay for Christmas. Take in to account gifts, food, decorations, school holiday activities and family holidays. You don’t need to go overboard. It could be as simple as setting aside enough money for your Christmas ham or BBQ, or even just the main present for each family member. Don’t forget if you have kids, school holidays can be costly in keeping the kids occupied, so work out what they might like to do and set a weekly budget for them to work with.
2. Shop the sales – retailers have plenty of sales throughout the year and competition is fierce. By utilising lay-by and major sales you can purchase gifts at an attractive discount which will help make your Christmas dollars go further. While you’re at it, if you’re planning holidays during the Christmas season, pick up some things you’ll need for your holiday while they are on sale. You can subscribe to your favourite retailers e-newsletters to be notified of sales and special offers.
3. Put time on your side – don’t leave your shopping to the last minute. By planning what you need well in advance, you can shop around for the best price and even buy online as you’ll have sufficient time for postage. Buy gifts you know your family needs, such as something they’ll need to take on holidays. This way, you can delay some purchases you’ll need to make anyway until Christmas which will save you some money.
4. Save, but don’t set yourself up to fail – the earlier in the year you start saving, the less you will need to put away each week. In fact, a clever way to boost your savings is to set aside an amount you won’t miss. That way you’re more likely to stick to it as it won’t affect your daily spending much.
5. Use the right savings account – there are some specific features and account types that will suit saving for Christmas. Choose a savings account that allows you to set up an automatic regular savings plan so your savings happen automatically. An account that pays you bonus interest is also a good idea, that way you are rewarded when you save each month and make no withdrawals which encourages the right savings behaviour. Check out the Bonus Saver account from Easy Street.
Another option is the Christmas Cracker account from Community First Credit Union which allows you to make deposits to the account throughout the year, however you are only able to access the funds between 1 November and 31 January. It’s the perfect way to ensure you don’t dip in to your savings before Christmas time!
Finally, once Christmas has come and gone, be sure to go back and review your budget to see if you got it right or not this year. Think about what worked well and what didn’t and start your new year budget and savings plan from January instead.
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