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6 ways to put a lid on festive season debt

​Christmas can put a strain on the purse strings: think presents, food, travel and all the trimmings that go with it.

If the very thought of the festive season sends a shiver down your spine and gives you a pain in your hip pocket, it might be time to regroup and think about what matters most this season.

So how do you make the most of Christmas without getting yourself into a world of debt? Well, there are a few simple, yet effective things you can do to help keep some of your dollars safely in the bank.

1. Budget is not a four-letter word

If you have an annual budget, you may have already factored Christmas into it. If not, don’t panic, there’s still time to jot down all your incomings and outgoings to work out what you can reasonably spend without going into debt.

When you’re working out your budget, don’t forget to include things like regular bills (think car insurance or gym memberships). If you’re (un)lucky enough to have a major bill due around Christmas, check to see if your provider accepts a 6 monthly payment – you could pay until mid-next year and then go back to an annual payment, to avoid a big outlay during the silly season.

2. Don’t over commit

It’s easy to get caught up in the festiveness of the season and say ‘yes’ to the 20 things you’ve been invited to between now and the 25th December. You may suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) but going out a lot can quickly become expensive. Be picky. Say ‘yes’ to those really special events and graciously decline the rest.

3. Get a Kris Kringle going

A Kris Kringle or Secret Santa isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is one way to reduce the financial burden of buying a present for all your family and friends. You’ll not only reduce stress by not having to think of the perfect gift for everyone, but you’ll also save yourself (and the rest of your family) a bucket load of money in the process. Give it a go – it might become your new favourite tradition.

4. Share the load

No one wants to spend the whole day in the kitchen on Christmas day. When it comes to your Christmas menu, think about having things you can make in advance and ask everyone to bring something along but don’t go making it too extravagant, crayfish for lunch sounds amazing but would some juicy cooked prawns be just as tasty … at half the price?

5. Don’t rely on credit

Cash really is king but don’t go stashing your money under your mattress just yet. It might be obvious but one way to avoid a debt hangover is to tap into your own money to pay for those Christmas purchases. If you must pop a couple of things on credit, try to make the most of your credit card’s features. If you’re entitled to interest free days, time your purchases to make the most of these and when your bill arrives, do your very best to pay off your balance in full. Check with your financial institution to see if you can set up an automatic payment to cover (at least) your minimum repayment every month to avoid any overdue fees.

6. Toys in every store

It’s easy to head off to the shops without knowing what presents you need to buy. To avoid overspending or making desperate purchasing decisions make a list and try to stick to it.

Or get online. Do your research, search your favourite stores to find the perfect gift, for the cheapest price. Make sure to check delivery costs and times, you don’t want to purchase something only to realise it won’t be delivered until after Christmas. Better still, if your store offers it, why not click and collect? Some bigger stores offer a quicker pick up if your order is in store and placed before a certain time!

It’s a (Christmas) wrap…

Remember Christmas is only one day of the year (although to be fair, it is the only day of year the big guy in the red suit pays a visit). So, to make it memorable for all the right reasons (like spending time with loved ones), be aware of what you’re spending your money on. Think about how you’re going to pay for each purchase, so that when the new year rolls around and the bills start coming in, you’ll be super-relieved you kept the Christmas cheer in check!


 

The small, small print: Please note this information is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances or objectives. You should consider this before acting on any of the information contained.