Lifestyle10 December 2019

Penny pinching to plan for a stress-free Christmas


“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.” If you’re hearing the dulcet tones of Johnny Mathis crooning those words in the shopping centre, then the most expensive time of year for many of us is just around the corner.

If you’re worried about how to enjoy the festive season and following summer holidays without breaking the bank, then a little planning now will help ensure a stress-free Christmas.

Having money in the bank to pay for gifts, food, travel and treats could be as simple as forgoing a few things for the coming few weeks and putting the cash aside for Christmas.

Stop going out for coffee

Take a minute on that morning trip to the coffee shop with your colleagues to think about this. At an average of $4.15 a cup1, that’s $20.75 a week for coffee. Over a year that adds up to $1,079. By giving up your morning cappuccino for a month, you could save almost $90 to put towards presents or other festive treats.

Have a 'no frills spend' month

If you can save $90 in a month just by giving up coffee, how much can you save in the same time by only paying your bills and buying food and other essentials. Think about curbing spending on the non-essential bits and pieces that may only cost a few dollars each on special, but quickly add up. Do you really need those Christmas-themed tea towels/glasses/platters/napkins?

Cancel fast food night

If your family has 'fast food Friday', think of postponing it between now and Christmas. If your takeaway night costs $50 a week for the family, that’s $200 in the kitty for Christmas.

Take lunch to work

If giving up buying morning coffee can save $90 a month, imagine what can be saved by taking lunch instead of buying it. If you spend $10 a day for a sandwich or salad, that’s another $215 saved.

Quit a vice

Most of us have a vice, whether it’s alcohol, cigarettes, buying lottery tickets or an indulgent block of chocolate. Quitting yours for the month will not only fatten the Christmas budget, but potentially improve your health. A pack a day smoker could save $245 a week2. That’s $1,060 in a month. There’s presents for the kids, Christmas dinner and money left over! Giving up a beer a day could save around $180 in the lead-up to Santa’s arrival.

Be clever with the food shop

Make a menu for each week’s meals, then shop only for the ingredients (and household essentials such as toiletries and cleaning items). Never shop on an empty stomach or you’ll be tempted to buy a chocolate on the way through the checkout. Set a budget for the shopping trip and pay in cash. Leave the credit/debit card at home. Try shopping in a discount supermarket if you don’t already.

Have a garage or online sale

Not only will you earn some extra cash, but you’ll declutter the house (less cleaning at Christmas) and know you’ve passed on items to be a blessing to someone else. last accessed 10 December 2019. last accessed 10 December 2019.

How should your finances look ...

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