Saving and budgeting tips for Christmas
It feels like Christmas has snuck up on us this year.
Between a global pandemic and a recession, 2020 has not been an easy year for our mental health or our wallets.
Kidspot sat down with Victoria Devine, a financial advisor and the founder of She’s on the Money, to find out how families can budget and save money for this expensive time of year.
“I love the idea of budgeting year-round for Christmas so it doesn’t creep up and leave us in a panic in November,” Ms Devine told Kidspot.
“But not all of us are thinking about Christmas in January, so if that’s you, there are a few ways to save, even if you start right now.”
CUT DOWN ON NON-ESSENTIAL SPENDING
The first step is to look at the money you do have and see what you’re spending it on.
“It’s key to cut down on non-essential spending,” Ms Devine said.
“The easiest way to do this is by combing through your last month of transactions with a highlighter, identifying where your money is being drained.”
You might find you mindlessly spend on takeaway coffees and babycinos, getting takeaway for dinner because you’re too exhausted to cook, or that you have all the streaming services: Netflix, Stan, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime and barely enough time to watch any of them.
“If you can pinpoint where you’re falling down and tally up how much you’d save if you eliminated these money traps, you’ll be more inclined to change your spending habits,” Ms Devine said.
CHANGE YOUR DIET A LITTLE
Anyone who goes grocery shopping knows that a kilo of chicken breast costs a lot more than a couple of tins of lentils.
That doesn’t mean you have to go vegetarian, though.
“Incorporate some meat-free days into your diet,” Ms Devine advised.
“Feeding a family can be extremely expensive. By opting for some affordable vegetarian options you can shave a decent amount of money off your weekly grocery bill.
“Get creative in the kitchen and make the most of cheap ingredients like meat, beans and veg.”
As well as what you eat, she recommended looking at where you’re buying your food.
“Try shopping at ALDI or bulk food stores. One of my community members saves $5000 a year just by shopping at ALDI,” Ms Devine revealed.
DECLUTTER, BUT DON’T BOOK THAT COUNCIL PICK UP
One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and Ms Devine recommends taking the things that are cluttering up your home and selling them online.
“There are a plethora of amazing ways you can sell items online in 2020: Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree, eBay,” she said.
“Even if you think it’s not worth selling, give it a go. You can put any money earned straight into savings.”
Online surveys are another quick way to score some easy cash.
“They vary in what they pay, but you might score $10 for one, which you can put straight into your Christmas funds,” she said.
That might not sound like much, but if you do three online surveys a month for the year, you’ll have an extra $360 to splash out at Christmas.
If online surveys don’t float your boat, side hustles could be another way to earn extra cash.
“Get on Airtasker and pick up some pocket money,” Ms Devine urged.
HAVE A DEDICATED CHRISTMAS ACCOUNT
Now you’ve started raking in the cash, don’t put it in a regular spending account or it will quickly disappear.
“Have a separate Christmas savings account so you’ll be less likely to touch it,” Ms Devine said.
“There are some really cool banks these days like Up Bank where you can create really clear saving goals and see how close you are to reaching your ideal savings amount in a fun and visual way.”
GET AHEAD OF THE GAME
Besides budgeting and bringing in more cash, planning ahead is also a good way to stay on top of Christmas spending.
“Make a Christmas gift list and take note of when your kids or a family member says they’d love a certain something,” Ms Devine said.
“You might see it on sale during the year and be able to grab it at a discount. This will also help you avoid the dreaded Christmas Eve shop where you overspend on toys to fill the stocking because you ran out of time.
“A little bit of organisation goes a long way.”
What happened to the days when kids and adults created handmade presents? There’s been a resurgence of the handmade, so that lovingly crafted gifts are no longer daggy.
“Last year my family implemented a homemade, handmade or second-hand rule for Christmas with a limit of $50,” Ms Devine said.
“It was fun. We bought a second hand children’s kitchen on Gumtree for $40, which my niece and nephew adore.”
WE’RE BRAINWASHED TO SPEND, SPEND, SPEND
It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and generosity (and anxiety and overspending) of the season.
Ms Devine said writing down your plan is the key to staying on track.
“We are brainwashed to spend, spend, spend so it can be really hard to resist the urge to splurge,” she said.
“Think about how many people you need to buy for and how much you want to spend on each person.
“Consider how much the food will cost. What about the wine? The tree?
“There’s a lot to think about, but by writing it down and establishing how much you need to save to pull it off, it will be easy to create and stick to your savings goals.”