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With the festive season only weeks away, and with one of the biggest expenses of the year nearly upon us, we’ve decided to write up a few ideas on how to cut those bills this year. 

Christmas is an expensive time of year – a time when a lot of people start to feel overwhelmed by the costs and turn to credit for help. Using credit might seem convenient at the time but it is also one of the largest causes of debt. Last year families borrowed almost $30 billion in the run up to Christmas, a worrying figure when the same research reported it can take families well into the new year to repay what they owe.

Christmas should be about spending time with your loved ones but the financial pressures of the festivities are apparent. We want to help raise awareness of how easy it is to get into debt, especially at this time of year, so we’ve put together some cost cutting tips to help make your Christmas this year more affordable. Christmas might seem a while away yet but the earlier you start thinking about everything, the more time you have to prepare.  

Look at your finances

The key to controlling your finances is knowing what you have coming in and going out. Have a look through your expenditure and work out how much you have left after your bills. This will show you how much you can afford to spend and will also give you an idea of how much you will need to save.

Write a list and set a budget

Write a list of everything you would like to buy and everything you need to buy. Pick up your necessities first and if you have money left over after, you can look at the other things on your list. Having a list will keep your spending in check and make sure you don’t get carried away.

Bear in mind the figures you saw when you had a look at your finances and use them to create a Christmas budget. Knowing how much you can afford will help you keep on track with your spending. 

Start saving as early as you can

If you have little disposable income left after all your household bills and expenses you are going to need to start saving. We recommend you start saving at least a few months in advance to avoid falling in the credit trap. When it comes to Christmas, people often see no harm in putting a few pounds here and there on the credit cards but according to the Sydney Morning Herald millions of families will still be paying off their Christmas credit well into the new year and beyond.  Start saving early and avoid credit cards this Christmas.

Prioritise Christmas spending and look at alternative traditions

Do you really need to spend as much as you’re planning? A lot of the time we buy gifts people don’t really want or need just because we feel obligated. Why not discuss gift giving with family and friends and make alternative suggestions like Secret Santa where you each only buy for one person or instead only buying for the children in the family. There are many gift giving alternatives and if you’re worried about money, talk to your family and maybe start a new tradition. You could even try making gifts – instead of buying chocolates for someone, why not bake them some cookies – a few cheap ingredients can make some yummy treats and it’s more personal.

Tell people what you actually want for Christmas

Christmas is not just an expense for you; others will be looking to return the favour and buy gifts for you and your family. Tell them about the things you need (but maybe can’t afford) and make sure your presents are of use to you this year. Getting things you need means you won’t have to worry about buying them later down the line – which actually saves you money.

Don’t panic buy or overspend

Each year people panic buy at the supermarkets because the shops will be shutting for a few days. However is there really a need? How often do you do your food shop typically – once a week? The shops will be shutting for a maximum of two days so why do we need to overspend and bulk buy? You can still treat yourself and spend more than you normally might, we all like a few extras at Christmas, but remember the shops are only going to be shut for a couple of days. Write a list of the things you will need during that time and resist the urge to panic buy.

If your situation doesn’t look like changing, or if you are struggling financially, get in contact with the team at Debt Savvy on 1300 912 197 or fill in our contact form and we can get in touch with you at a time that’s convenient for you.