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Saving and budgeting

10 ways to be budget ready for Christmas

8 Dec 2016

The festive season can be stressful and stretch your finances if you aren’t careful.

Here are some ways to be ready for Christmas while keeping your budget intact.

1.  Be organised

In the lead-up to Christmas, create lists to keep track of all the items you need to buy. Double check you have everything on hand to make that Christmas feast - there are endless apps and websites available to help you plan and keep your spending on track. 

2.  Be educated

Look for deals online and compare prices between competitors on your phone when in-store. Some stores match or beat competitors' deals, so compare offers in the aisle before you reach the checkout. Don't be afraid to ask for those discounts or deals such as extended warranty or free accessories with big ticket items!

If you are unsure about your purchase, make sure to check any terms and conditions to ensure you can return it. Items such as earrings or cosmetics may have a no returns policy - always ask if you feel your gift may not be quite right for the recipient.

And, don’t get caught out in January with high interest rates on your credit card bill. It’s always best if you can pay off your credit card in full each month. If you can’t those cards that appear to have great rewards programs may cost you more with high interest rates.

That’s why we recommend our low rate Visa Credit Card this Christmas.

3.  Be sneaky

Before you click ‘pay’ search the web for discount coupons or deals to save more online.

Always check the sales section on websites, and look out for free shipping deals. Watch out for those sneaky international shipping costs, which may push your purchase over budget.

4.  Be loyal

If you haven’t signed up for rewards and loyalty programs at your favourite stores, now is the time! Use an app like Stocard to store loyalty cards, without filling up your wallet.

Watch for items which may earn you bonus points, and research other ways to earn points by linking loyalty cards together.

5.  Be social

Follow brands and check their social feeds for secret sales and exclusive deals. Now is the time to check your junk emails for sales and deals! Keep a look out for apps and websites which may help you save even more.

Follow Credit Union SA on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram

6.  Be Santa

Set a present limit between friends and family to keep your gift budget at a sensible level. Use the following list to prepare before hitting the shops:

  • Set a time limit - Get in and out so you aren't tempted to spend more than you need to.
  • Shop at odd hours – Use the extended trading hours to avoid the crowds.
  • Buy less expensive items first – Buy smaller items first and work up to those big ticket items. This will give you more time to research, and you might find a cheaper alternative before you hand over your cash.
  • Pre-pay and pick up in-store to avoid shipping costs and checkout lines or take advantage of free shipping offers.
  • Skip browsing, and only go to shops that you need to avoid impulse buys. 

7.  Be creative

Get creative to reduce costs this Christmas:

  • Give food – If you are a master chef, why not give your friends and family the gift of food. A great way to cut costs and try out new recipes.
  • Create a coupon – Share your skills by creating a coupon they can redeem at a later date. Great examples are babysitting, car maintenance, yard work, or cleaning the pool.
  • Give experiences - Take that special someone on a New Year’s picnic, a driving tour of the Adelaide hills, or plan a dinner date.
  • DIY - Get crafty and make a personalised gift using things you own. Find inspiration on sites like Instagram and Pinterest.
  • Save on wrapping - Buy brown paper or recycle newspaper to wrap your gifts instead of pricey Christmas wrapping. Painting the paper first is a great way to get kids involved and keep them occupied over the holidays.
  • Go virtual – Record a family Christmas video and email it to your friends and loved ones instead of sending traditional cards. It will not only save you money, but also help the environment!

8.  Be head chef  

If you host your Christmas dinner, plan your menu to include cheaper and fresher in-season produce. Buy bulk items to freeze or store in the lead up to Christmas.

Get your guests to bring different parts of the meal to add variety, reduce stress and ensure you aren’t stuck with a big food bill.

Cook meals that you can make leftovers with so that uneaten food can be stored and re-used over the following days.

9.  Be strategic

Once this Christmas is over, it’s time to start all over again. Here are ways to ensure your next Christmas runs even more smoothly:

  • Start saving now - Open a savings account in January and contribute a small amount to it every payday. Saving $20 per week will add up to over $1,000 in a year's time.
    • Use our savings calculator to see how much you need to save per week to reach your Christmas savings goal.
  • Shop sales - Shop for presents throughout the entire year, especially during mid-year sales and on Boxing Day. This will spread your costs and make your spending more manageable. Stock up on your wrapping paper, Christmas cards and decorations at the post-Christmas sales for next year.
  • Layby – Layby expensive items 3-6 months ahead so you can pay them off over time. This is a great way to store bulkier items such as bikes and televisions which you may not have space for under the tree (or are hiding from the kids).

10.  Be nice

Spread the Christmas cheer by giving to charities and organisations which help those less fortunate.

Here at Credit Union SA, we support St John’s with our Giving Tree. Donate to St Johns at 400 King William St, Adelaide to help those in need, or on the St John's Youth Services website.

Merry Christmas from the Credit Union SA team!

This is general advice only and doesn’t take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Conditions, fees and lending criteria apply and are available on request.