Seems like an odd time to talk Christmas given we've just passed through the Festive period doesn't it?
Your fridge may be bursting at its seals with leftovers and the tree still twinkling prettily with lights in the corner, but there's no time like now to consider making an in-road on the next Christmas. The festive season comes around so quickly and the preparation required no matter how contained you try to keep it, just always runs away with you, especially where your cash is concerned.
Many of us are thrifty by nature at this demanding time of year, (December), but no matter how careful we are the costs do definitely add up and fast. With an abundance of parties, and a growing circle of relatives, friends and colleagues to cater to and buy for each year, really you can never be too prepared.
Saving money is something I like to practice all year round and my preparations for the Christmas season begin each year as early as Boxing Day. While many are hitting the sales to spend on big ticket items, for me, it's the smaller ticket sales that I am interested in and it is with the following small and planned steps that I am able to afford Christmas quite comfortably for my large family each year.
Get prepared for December now.
Start saving early by shopping at the annual Boxing Day sales: Not everyone wants a new fridge or computer on December 26 each year. Boxing Day sales and the early weeks of January are the perfect opportunity to collect the smaller items you require for the following Christmas season. Many supermarkets and department stores want their Christmas stock gone and toss it out at 50%-80% off the full price. Now is the perfect time to grab your bon-bons, serviettes, Christmas lights and decorations. Whatever it is you know you want and need at Christmas time year after year, there's no time like the early weeks of January to buy it and box it for next December.
Gift buying can happen all year round and January is a great time to start. Again, keep an eye open for perfect gifts for family members at these same post-Christmas sales. Many items are reduced precisely because they are packaged in Christmas wraps so grab them while you can at a cheaper price. Buy what you know will be appreciated by family and friends and even watch for toys for your children that may be age-appropriate by the time 11 months have swung by. Even a few cheap Kris Kringle gifts can be purchased and tucked away saving you time and money down the track.
Re-think your gift buying habits. Are you buying gifts for people who really don't actually need them? Think about yourself and your family first. Can you really afford to buy for people you barely know or who you may simply feel obligated to purchase for? Think work colleagues, neighbours, certain outer family members and other 'extras.' Have a chat to these people and you may just find they too are feeling the strain and are quite relieved to skip the gift giving exchange as well in future.
Shop where you can earn loyalty points. Do you have a store loyalty card or similar program in place where you accumulate points that convert into free items, discounts or cash rewards? Now is the time to sign up if you don't and remember to use your loyalty cards each time you shop. Over the course of the year, shopping at a regular store can really add up and work in your favour and when the big spend comes around you can cash in (or cash out) all your earnings to fund your Christmas celebrations.
Got excess gear (or unwanted gifts), lying about your home? January is a good time to start listing things for sale online or locally in your classifieds. Many people are on holidays and the internet is alight with shoppers. It's a great time to list items and convert them into cash to tackle credit card debts or kick-off a savings plan for the new year.
On the subject of savings plans, have you got a Christmas Savings Account or a similar savings account dedicated to holding cash specifically for the Christmas season? Opening an account to save towards Christmas and a holiday is one of the smartest moves you can make financially. By adding a small amount to your account each fortnight or month when your salary comes in, will see the money steadily climb into a mountain of available cash by December, which will cover many or all of your expenses. Arrange to have a nominated sum debited from your salary as soon as it hits the bank so that the money will be reserved before you miss it.
Start a savings jar. By popping a few gold coins into a sealed jar or money box on a regular basis and possessing great will power to continue to do so (and not break in when times are tight), your fun little savings game could net you big bucks within 12 months. Keeping your jar in the laundry is a good idea, where coins are often found in pockets and the bottom of your washing machine. Keeping it handy and in a well-trafficked area will ensure you are reminded to add to the jar daily.
Have you gone overboard this Christmas? If you have packed your credit card with purchases or likewise, you've a large ticket purchase that just can't wait until next Christmas, then a personal loan to cover you might be the solution. People's Choice Credit Union specialise in helping customers with their finances and offer many great financial services to assist you no matter what your financial requirements or savings goals may be.
How do you tackle the financial demands of the Christmas season?
Do you have a Christmas savings plan in place?
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