Festive Season Finances – 6 ways to save money at the most expensive time of year

For many of us, the early part of 2020 really was a drag, but now the end is in sight and Christmas is only weeks away. Do you have a financial survival plan?

By Julie Nipperess

Cute little boy decorating a Christmas tree

I dare say that most of us can’t wait to raise our glasses on New Year’s Eve and send 2020 packing. It’s been a tough year. And while I do prefer to remain optimistic, the fact is that while we might be getting Covid-19 under control, the economy is still pretty weak.

What that means is this: We all need to remain a little cautious about our spending, now and for the months to come. And as we head into one of the most expensive times of the year, I just want to remind you that this year — more than any other that you might have heard me say this — it’s really really really important not to get carried away, spend too much, and end up in financial stress.

Here are my top tips for staying in control.

Vintage scissors surrounded by Christmas decorations

1. Know your limits

If you haven’t worked through a mini-budget for Christmas and the holidays, or at least scribbled a rough spending plan on an old envelope or post-it note, now is the time.
Then … follow through!

2. Practice restraint

Usually the advice I give is to use cash at this time of year, and stick to the principle that once you’ve spent it, there’s no more. But given that most people gave up cash during the Covid-19 pandemic, the next best thing you can do is set yourself a spending limit.

Most banks allow you to set a daily limit on your accounts (changed easily via the app or online). This is an excellent way to make sure you don’t spend more than you can afford to.

3. Your presence is the present

So many of us get caught up in the whole idea that we need to buy gifts to show the people we love just how much we love them. But the truth is that being together and enjoying each other’s company is what creates the memories, not the trinkets and the shiny wrapping. Getting together doesn’t have to be expensive either – picnics in the park are free, BYO drinks nights and movie and pizza nights at home are cheap… you get the idea.

Five chocolate dipped marshmallows

4. Get creative

Homemade gifts are cool. And you know why? Because they take time and effort to create. Of course I realise that not all of us are great at knitting, sewing, baking, woodwork or pottery. But how about offering to babysit your mate’s kids for the day, or washing your Dad’s car? Or giving your Mum an at-home manicure? Visit a neighbour who doesn’t have family close by. Pick flowers. Pot plants from clippings. Give away the harvest from your veggie patch. You don’t have to buy gifts. And most of us (except maybe children and teenagers) don’t want for much anyway.

Happy family

5. Support local

I always say that how much you spend is just as important as how you spend it. So, when you’re shopping … think local. All the big chains stores are in a much better position to survive the recession, so spend your money with the little independent businesses. Or consider those who’ve been doing it tough. One of my faves is ‘Buy from the Bush’ – it’s an online marketplace with gorgeous items made in rural communities. Remember too, that if you give to charities (even as a gift in someone else’s name) donations over $2.00 are tax deductible.

6. Have Fun!

As much as we all love Christmas, it can come with its stresses and strains. And those are only compounded if you end up trying to impress people by doing things you can’t afford and getting yourself into financial trouble. It’s important to have fun, to spend time with loved ones, but it’s important to also look after yourself. And taking good care of yourself includes making sure you can pay your bills.

Remember, if you need financial help, you can contact us at any time.

This is general advice and should not be treated as personal advice. Julie Nipperess is an authorised representative of Step Up Financial Group Pty Ltd ASFL No: 512509.

Need more information? Get in touch with Step Up Financial