12 money tips for Christmas
Save yourself this Christmas
Christmas is a joyous time but the lead-up to the festive season
can be stressful and can really stretch your finances.
Here are some easy ways to spread Christmas cheer without
blowing your budget.
1. Make a list and check it
In the lead-up to Christmas, make lists of the things you need
to buy and the food you need to prepare for the festive season.
Having lists will help you plan your spending and keep you on
- Presents - List who you're buying for, what
you want to buy, and how much money you've allocated for each
person. For larger gifts, consider using lay-by in the months
before Christmas so you can pay them off over time.
- Supplies for Christmas/Boxing Day - List what
you want to buy, and where from. Buy in advance where possible to
take advantage of specials, especially if the items can be frozen
or have a long shelf life.
- If you are travelling - List costs like
flights, car service/tyre check, petrol and travel insurance and
shop around for deals early. If you're driving somewhere, think
about what day is best to fill up on petrol and do it the week
2. Find Christmas
Don't wait for a sale, seek out your Christmas bargains on
gifts and food by scouring advertising catalogues and checking
for any online offers.
Some stores match or beat competitors' deals so compare their
offers and keep all the details with you when you are in the store.
Don't be afraid to ask for a discount as you might just get a
Discount outlet shopping centres, factory seconds stores or
second-hand retailers are other places where you might be able to
bag a Christmas bargain. But check the terms and conditions of
purchase in case you can't return the item if you need to. See the
ACCC's rules on refunds and
Also, make sure you don't have to spend more than you are
comfortable with, in order to qualify for any discounts
3. Be a scrooge online
If you're Christmas shopping online, try to save every cent.
Before you start, do a web search for discount or coupon codes that
you can use at the checkout. Look at the sales sections of
retailers' websites to see what's on offer, and look for items or
shopping days where they offer free shipping.
If you know what you're looking for, search for the item online
instead of going directly to one retailer's website. You might find
it much cheaper somewhere else.
Search online auction websites where you can 'bid' for items,
including supplies you need for Christmas day.
Make sure you include any shipping costs when you are comparing
prices. The cost of some items can blow out once you add shipping
costs and you might be sorry you didn't go to a store to get the
If you are travelling at Christmas, shop around online to get
the best deal on flights and travel insurance. Try to book early to
avoid paying a premium for last minute bookings or peak season
Things are often much cheaper online than in a store, but you do
need to take extra precautions when shopping online.
4. Pay for gifts with reward
If you have a rewards card that you have been using
through the year to collect points, Christmas is a great time to
cash these in. Check your balance and see what you can get.
In the lead up to Christmas, keep an eye out for items you need
that earn more points so you can build up your balance. Also look
for discounts that might be offered through your existing insurer
or credit card provider for particular retailers.
Just be aware that reward schemes can sometimes cost you more
than the reward is worth. See our reward schemes webpage for more detail.
5. Go social with Christmas
If you follow your favourite brands and retailers on social
media, you may be able to get exclusive discounts through these
social channels. Their newsletters may also alert you to sales and
There are also lots of discount or deal apps that you can use to
find bargains on things on your Christmas list.
Before you buy any deal or discount always check the terms and
conditions to make sure you know what you are getting and make sure
the website is legit. See the ACCC's SCAMwatch website for tips on
how to pick an
online shopping scam.
6. Christmas gift hacks
Rather than spending up big to fill the Christmas stockings, get
creative with your gifts! Here are some ideas:
- Give a gift of food - If you're creative in
the kitchen, why not make something to give and create a personal,
- Create a coupon - If you have a knack for
massage, babysitting, or even hugs, give your family member or
friend a coupon they can redeem at a later date.
- Give an experience - Take someone on a picnic,
a driving tour, or plan a dinner date at home.
- DIY it - Get crafty and make a personalised
gift using stuff you already have - there are heaps of ideas
- Save on wrapping - Buy brown paper and string
to wraps your gifts instead of shelling out for pricey Christmas
wrapping, then you can use any excess throughout the year. If you
have kids, get them involved and use their paintings or drawings as
- Set a present limit - Suggest to your family
or friends that you all set a limit on how much you will spend on
gifts for each other to keep your gift budget at a sensible level.
- Re-think your Christmas card - Rather than
spending money on buying and posting Christmas cards, record a
family Christmas video greeting with your phone and email it to
your friends and loved ones. It will be much more fun and add a
7. Shop like you're Santa
Santa is always well-prepared and does his shopping on time so
why don't you? If you are going to shop in-store, consider these
rules-of-thumb to reduce Christmas shopping stress and limit the
temptation to over spend:
- Set a time limit on your shopping - Get in,
get it done and get out so you aren't tempted to spend more than
you wanted to.
- Shop at odd hours - Take advantage of extended
trading hours and go when it's less crowded so you can choose
carefully without having to jostle for space.
- Buy less expensive stuff first - If you buy
larger and more costly items first you can lose perspective on what
is a good price, so set your budget, buy small first, and then
tackle the big stuff so you keep to your gift budget.
- Pre-pay - If you buy online, check if there's
an option to pick up in-store. You'll save on freight, skip any
lines, and there will be less temptation to buy more.
- Limit your shopping locations - Only go to
shops that you need to so you don't get distracted and impulse
8. Track your spending
Keeping track of your festive spending is the best way to avoid
going over your budget this Christmas.
Use our TrackMySPEND app
to nominate a spending limit for different types of Christmas
expenses and track your progress while you shop.
9. Give to those less
Spread the Christmas cheer by giving to those who are doing it
tough. Consider donating to a charity this Christmas. As well
as money, they may also accept household items, clothes and
groceries, or you could volunteer your time to help them out.
Another option is to consider giving blood. The holiday season
is when blood banks need your help the most.
10. Get some cash and make their
If you have something around the house
you've been meaning to get rid of and sell, Christmas is the time
to do it. Look around your home and see what you could on-sell. It
might be furniture, clothes, or jewellery.
As well as second-hand sale websites, there may also be a local
buy-swap-sell in your area. Your unwanted item could make someone
else's Christmas extra special, and bag you some extra cash.
11. Lighten the Christmas Day
If you are hosting Christmas this year, plan your menu with
in-season produce as it's usually cheaper and fresher. If you can,
buy in bulk and freeze or store in the lead up to Christmas.
Share the load by asking others to bring or make something, so
that you aren't stuck with all the work and a big food bill. And
don't go overboard on food for Christmas - it's just one day, after
12. Plan for next Christmas
Once this Christmas is done and dusted you should plan ahead for
next year. Here are some ideas to help make sure you are set up for
- Start saving now - Open a high interest
savings account in January and contribute a small amount to it
every payday. Saving $20 per week will add up to over $1,000 in a
year's time. Use our savings goals
calculator to see how much you'll need to save each pay to
reach your Christmas savings goal.
- Shop the sales - Shop for presents
throughout the year, especially during sales. This will spread your
costs and make them more manageable.
- Layby - Pre-plan larger gifts and layby
3-6 months ahead so you can pay them off over time.
Merry Christmas from ASIC's MoneySmart Team!
Last updated: 20 Jan 2017