With a recession upon us, and many Australians facing changed financial circumstances, Christmas this year may look a little different. In a year when many of us couldn’t spend as much time with our friends and family as we would have liked, it might be the right time to shift the focus to what’s most important – time together.
Of course, gifts, food and social occasions will still play a part, but with so much uncertainty for many, it’s a good idea to think about how to control your spending. Here are our tips for a Merry Christmas without the financial burden.
#1 Don’t buy what you can’t afford
It sounds like a simple one, but with 1 in 3 Australians going into debt to pay for Christmas, it’s a message that is worth remembering. With the rise of buy now, pay later services, it seems there are more ways than ever to buy what we can’t afford, but your loved ones don’t want you going into debt over gifts.
Set yourself a realistic budget and make a list for each person. Consider shopping online to avoid impulse purchases, as these can really add up, but if you are going to the shops, leave the credit card at home to avoid temptation.
#2 Remember it’s only a saving if you were going to buy it anyway
With the introduction of popular overseas shopping events like Black Friday and Singles Day, it can be easy to get caught up in the idea that you are saving money. While these events can offer significant discounts, it’s only actually saving you money if it was already on your list to buy.
These events are also designed to make you feel like you are getting the best deal possible, but it’s critical to do your research beforehand and avoid getting caught up in the hype, as you may find a better deal on offer elsewhere.
#3 Ask family members what they want
While a surprise is a nice idea in theory, Australians receive around $400 million worth of unwanted gifts each year, so it’s not always the best approach. In a time when finances are tight for many, it’s not only practical for you, but especially helpful for your loved ones to ask them what they want. This way, you’ll avoid wasting money on something that simply isn’t wanted.
This is particularly true when it comes to buying for children in your extended family. Ask their parents what they are into and what they already have. Children often have very particular tastes – and if you don’t have kids the same age, it can be a minefield.
#4 Consider a Secret Santa approach
If you need to buy for many people in your family on a tight budget, it’s going to be time-consuming and tricky to find the right gifts. A Secret Santa approach with a set budget allows each of you to buy (and receive!) something a little more special while also reducing waste and unwanted gifts.
#5 Swap the physical gift for an experience
We’ve all been through a year of limitations, and now that these have eased in most areas, an experience gift can be a great way to help your loved ones make the most of it. Research shows that experiences make us far happier than material goods – and the memories last far longer.
Gift experience sites cater for a range of budgets and tastes, from adrenaline junkies to foodies, so there is something for everyone. Some sites also allow you to pick a specific experience while also allowing the recipient to choose something else if your pick doesn’t suit.
It may be something you can all do together, or something they can do solo. If you’re buying for adult kids with their own families, you could even throw some free babysitting into the bargain.
#6 Split Christmas lunch costs
If you are hosting Christmas this year, it’s likely you’ll be asked “What can I bring?” many times. Put yourself in your guest’s shoes – when you ask this, it’s likely you do actually want to contribute, so it’s fine to ask everyone to bring something for the meal. It will equal savings for you and make everyone feel like they have played their part in celebrations.
#7 Swap the restaurant for the park
If you are having a social catch-up before Christmas, think about moving it from a restaurant to a park where you can self-cater. Not only is this a good idea for your finances, but your guest list is less likely to be hampered by COVID restrictions. As an added bonus, you won’t have to find a venue that caters for all dietary requirements or likes and dislikes.
General Advice warning
The information provided in this blog does not constitute ﬁnancial product advice. The information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your individual objectives, ﬁnancial situation or needs. It should not be used, relied upon, or treated as a substitute for speciﬁc professional advice. Apt Wealth Partners (AFSL and ACL 436121 ABN 49 159 583 847) and Apt Wealth Home Loans (powered by Smartline ACL 385325) recommends that you obtain professional advice before making any decision in relation to your particular requirements or circumstances.