12 money tips for Christmas
How to have a MoneySmart
Christmas can be a busy and stressful time of the year arranging
gifts, food and decorations, let alone working out how you are
going to pay for it all.
In the spirit of the classic hit 'The Twelve Days of Christmas'
we have put together 12 money tips to help you enjoy and
financially navigate the holiday season.
1. Learn from Christmas past
Before you start Christmas shopping or planning have a think
about how you approached it last year and what you might do
differently. Did you spend more than you thought you would? Did you
feel pressured to create a Christmas beyond your financial means?
Try to throw all that off this year and start afresh.
Imagine the stress-free Christmas that you want and work to make
2. Make a list and check it twice
If you feel you went overboard with spending last year, create a
Christmas budget - a list of what you will spend on gifts, food and
For gifts, it really is the thought that counts and often less
is more. Work out what items your friends and family really need or
what would mean most to them rather than buying big expensive items
for each person.
Christmas budgets really work. Our Christmas spending
infographic shows that most people who create a Christmas
budget stick to it.
Australia's Christmas spending
Take a look at our Christmas spending
infographic, with information on how much Australians spend at
Christmas, Christmas budgeting and how long it can take to pay off
Christmas credit card debt.
3. Christmas gift hacks
There are various ways you can approach giving at Christmas
time. Here are a few ideas from ASIC's MoneySmart Facebook
- Try a Secret Santa arrangement with your family so you only
have to buy one gift.
- Agree to only buy for the kids in your extended family.
- Buy small gifts to open on Christmas Day and go shopping for a
larger gift in the Boxing Day sales when items will be
- Sign up to newsletters from your favourite retailers now, as
they'll often email discount codes in the lead-up to
4. Plan your shopping
Take the guess work out of gift buying and plan your Christmas
shopping. This will really help you avoid overspending.
Researching gifts and comparing prices online will help you work
out where you are going to shop and where to get the best deal.
If you are planning on buying gifts online, take a look at our
tips on online
shopping. Just make sure you leave enough time for the gifts to
be delivered before Christmas.
5. Bill smooth your Christmas
If you lay-by larger gifts a few months before Christmas you can
really reduce your December spend. Most large department or chain
stores offer lay-by but you'll need to be organised with your gift
ideas earlier in the year.
If you have children and are buying toys, the sales are usually
in July. If you can work out what you are buying then, you can have
the gifts paid off in fortnightly repayments by October.
Some banks offer Christmas club savings accounts that allow you
to save over the course of the year and only let you withdraw the
money from November onwards. These are good if you need some
discipline to save and want to set up automatic savings to go into
your Christmas account.
It's not too early to start thinking about Christmas next
6. Monitor the plastic
infographic shows that last year around 20% of MoneySmart
readers said they paid for Christmas gifts by credit card. If you
use a credit card this year to pay for some or all of your
Christmas gifts and expenses, make sure you keep track of your
spending and have a plan to pay it off.
You can use our credit card calculator to see how long it will
take you to pay off your card and how much time and money you'll
save by making higher repayments.
Credit card calculator
Last year people planned to spend $1000 on average on
Christmas. If they paid off $100 per month, according to our
credit card calculator it would take them a year to pay off this
If you feel you can't trust yourself with a credit card at
Christmas, either reduce your credit limit or try to pay for items
7. Track your spending
Keeping track of your 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.
8. Gift cards
Gift cards are a popular present for the family member that has
everything and are a winning option for the unimaginative
shopper. However, it's important to remind your gift receiver
to use the total value of the card by the expiry date, as the
remaining amount is usually not refundable. Look for gift cards
with a longer valid period that can be used in lots of different
Find out more about the pros and cons of gift cards.
9. Kids and Christmas cash
Nine out of 10 Australian children aged between 6-13 received
some cash for Christmas last year. Giving kids cash is a great
opportunity for them to learn about saving and budgeting for the
items they really want. Take a look at our page on teaching
kids about money for ways to give life lessons on
10. Give meaningful gifts
Great gift giving does not necessarily equate to spending lots
of money. It's about knowing what loved ones cherish the most.
Our Facebook followers have given us
some great ideas for gifts of time and love:
- Kids could give parents 50 sessions of dishwashing or laundry,
other household chores
- Give family members babysitting sessions or even lawn
- Give a friend a day out picnicking at a special location
Charities also have all kinds of personal gifts you can buy for
family and friends at Christmas. If your family member is
passionate about a particular cause or charity, donating to that
charity for Christmas on their behalf can mean a lot. Read our
article on donating to find out how to check if a charity
11. Cut Christmas Day food costs
If you are hosting Christmas at your house here a few ideas to
save money on Christmas Day:
- Simplify the menu - You don't
need to have all the Christmas trimmings. A simple classic meal can
work just as well.
- Bring a plate - Arrange for everyone to 'bring
a plate' so all the family pitches in and splits the cost and the
- Buy items now - Buy pantry items for Christmas
lunch in the weeks leading up to Christmas so you don't have all
the costs at once.
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.
- 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: 30 May 2016