How to avoid overspending this Christmas

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Some great tips to help you this festive season

There is no denying that the end-of-year festivities can pose a discernible strain on your finances. In fact, figures complied by Roy Morgan and the Australian Retailers Association earlier in the month have unveiled that 2017 festive spending will rise by 2.8 per cent compared with the same trading period last year. Shoppers are slated to hand over a not-so-humble $50 million to the retail economy. Approximately 50% of this number will be via credit. Yikes.

With all this in mind, how can you avoid being part of this splashy statistic while still thoroughly enjoying the most magical time of the year? Here are five easily implemented points to consider:

1. Have both a gift list and a budget

It might sound glaringly obvious, but if you work out what you need to buy and allocate a maximum dollar spend to each gift, you’ll have clear boundaries for spending. Select second and third alternatives for each person, and you’ll have a far easier time with efficiency, too.

2. Compare the market

If you’ve ever purchased an item at a go-to store you like, only to see it on sale elsewhere moments later, you’re well-versed in the frustration of impaired (or non-existent) market research. Google is your friend—compare and contrast. If you’re a bricks and mortar shopper, don’t neglect the online world, and vice versa for all the digital spenders out there. Not all retailers wait for Boxing Day to go on sale—some go on sale early to create a point of difference. 

3. Be smart about travel

It’s also important to consider how you can save in non-retail ways. Christmas isn’t always local, and the biggest challenge with traveling at the year’s end is forward planning. Because flights and accommodation are notoriously expensive during the festive months, it pays to save (pun very much intended) where you can. Shop around for the cheapest airlines and travel dates using a portal like Sky Scanner, pack light carry-on items only to avoid baggage fees and BYO snacks for the plane.

4. Rethink self-gifting

The temptation to splurge on yourself is high at this time of year—particularly if you’ve spent a day wandering around a stressfully heaving mall. Try and resist the need to ‘reward’ yourself with a shiny new thing—it could be a trap: a convenient or an emotional purchase.

5. Tweak social habits

Buying a new shirt or dress for that party? Consider borrowing from a friend instead. Accepting every invitation for festive drinks, even though you’re exhausted? Rounds of drinks on your credit card? Christmas is indeed about spontaneity, but balance is more important.

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