Article byfor Money Magazine.
It might seem ages away but with less than 16 weeks to go until Christmas now is the time to start budgeting. By putting a plan in place to pay for your holiday spending now you won’t end up with a post-Christmas financial hangover.
Have a savings plan in place
You can start putting a little bit of money away each week specifically for Christmas so that you don’t have to resort to your credit card if you don’t have enough money. Let’s say you estimate you need $2000; by putting away $125 each week you’ll have saved up that much by Christmas. The earlier you start, of course, the better as the less you’ll have to put away each week.
You don’t need a Christmas club account at this stage. They pay very low rates of interest and their biggest advantage is that you generally can’t withdraw the money until November.
Given that it’s so late in the year you probably don’t need the extra incentive. Any savings account should do the trick – just arrange for a regular direct debit and resist the temptation to touch the money unless it is for Christmas purchases.
You could also give your savings a further boost by getting the family to save any gold coins that come their way between now and Christmas. Put them in a money box that you all have access to and open it up just before Christmas.
Build up your rewards
Consider stocking up any rewards you earn – whether that’s flybuys, Woolworths Rewards or even frequent flyer points – to use for your festive purchases.
For example, if you’re a Woolworths Rewards member you can automatically save $10 on your next eligible shop each time your balance hits 2000 points. You can opt to bank your savings and use them at Christmas.
Start buying now
Find something you like that would be a great gift, and buy it now. If it’s on sale that’s even better.
You can take advantage of layby or Afterpay to buy gifts so that you don’t have to come up with the entire amount now and can pay them off slowly.
Just keep a record of what you have bought and where you hid the gifts so you avoid doubling up later.
Talk to your friends
A lot of people have everything they could possibly want, which makes finding them a present almost impossible, so have a chat about forgoing gifts and do something special as a group instead.
You could spend the money on a great dinner in a fancy restaurant or have a picnic get-together.