The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author – Alison Banney from Finder.com – and do not necessarily reflect the views of BrickX, BrickX Financial Services or other entities within the BrickX group.
The festive season is notoriously expensive, and it’s often a time when we throw all our regular routines out the window. We stop the weekly food prep, quit our normal exercise routine and ignore our spending budget.
Here are six ways to keep your finances in check, so you don’t end up with a post-Christmas debt hangover in January.
Set a festive-season budget (or better yet, stick to your existing budget)
Because you won’t be in your normal 9-5 routine, your existing spending budget will need some tweaking. As a first step, figure out how much money you’re comfortable spending on gifts and activities like eating out, and keep track of this over the Christmas period to make sure you’re not spending any more than what you’ve decided on.
You can also identify which parts in your current budget you can decrease or eliminate all together. For example, if you’re taking a few weeks off work, you might not need your weekly public transport allowance of $60, which can go towards your increased “eating out” allowance instead.
Use coupon codes for your Christmas shopping
This one is super easy yet so few people actually take advantage of coupons when shopping online. Before paying for any Christmas gifts online, do a quick search for any relevant coupon codes that you can apply to your order. There are plenty of discounts and deals available for thousands of major retailers and brands like Myer, ASOS, Apple and Rebel Sport, and it only takes two minutes to find and apply them to your order.
Take advantage of “round-up” features
Several banking apps offer savings round-up features designed to help you save money without thinking about it. For example, ING’s Everyday Round Up tool automatically rounds up transactions from your Orange Everyday transaction account to the nearest $1 or $5 and puts the rest into your linked savings account. Micro-investment apps like Raiz round up your daily purchases and put the leftover change into an investment portfolio on your behalf.
The beauty of these tools is the more you spend, the more you save. You’ll be making more transactions over Christmas, so you may as well round these up to make sure you’re saving while you’re at it.
Seek out free activities
Because it’s so warm outside and it stays light much later, summer is an easy time to find fun things to do for free. You can hit the beach, go for a picnic with friends or family, go for a bush walk or hike, or pull out your bike from the garage and go for a ride. If you’re planning to go away for a few days, opting for camping instead of hotel accommodation can save you hundreds of dollars (plus, you’ll often be much closer to the beach!).
Buy alcohol for friends and family in bulk
Do you have a bunch of aunties and uncles that you usually give a bottle of wine to over the festive season? Don’t buy a different bottle of wine for each person (unless they’re extremely picky with their wine.) Instead, go to a discount store like Dan Murphy’s or First Choice Liquor and buy a case of 12 wine bottles to save a few dollars per bottle. If you don’t need 12 bottles, you can get great discounts on half cases too.
Rent out your apartment
If you’re heading out of town for the holidays, consider renting out your room or even your entire apartment if you don’t have roommates. There are plenty of people looking for inner-city accommodation during December and January, and they’ll pay top dollar as it’s peak season. This is especially true if you live in Sydney and your apartment will be empty for New Year’s Eve. Depending on the location, you could get a couple of hundred dollars a night on sites like Airbnb.
The Christmas period is expensive, yes, but with a bit of pre-planning, you can make sure you’re not spending any more than you need to through December and January.