12 money tips for Christmas
Save yourself this
If the festive season usually leaves you out of pocket and
feeling like you spent more time and money battling the crowds than
relaxing with friends and loved ones, why not simplify things this
Here are some quick and easy tips to help you enjoy the holiday
season without breaking the bank.
1. Have a pre-Christmas clean
There's still time to bag some extra cash to boost your festive
finances. Spend a few hours clearing out anything you no longer
need around the house, like clothes, books, jewellery, furniture,
music, or sporting equipment. You could sell these items online,
hold a garage sale, or find a local buy-swap-sell.
They say that one person's trash is another's treasure so, as
well as pocketing a few extra dollars, you might just end up making
someone else's Christmas extra special.
2. Make a list and check it
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 track.
- Presents - Make a list of who you're buying
for, what you want to get them, and how much money you're prepared
to spend on each person.
- Entertainment supplies - List the food and
drinks you'll need, and how much you can spend. Buy in advance
where possible to take advantage of specials, especially if items
can be frozen or have a long shelf life.
- Travel plans - Whether you're flying or
driving, there are ways to save on holiday travel costs. List all
your costs like flights, accommodation, travel insurance, airport transfers
and petrol. Shop around for deals as early as you can, to avoid
paying a premium for last-minute bookings or peak season increases.
If you're going on a driving holiday, work out which day is
cheapest to fill up on petrol, and do it the week before
3. Personalise your
cards and wrapping
Most people throw away their Christmas cards once the
festivities are over, which is just like throwing money in the
This year, instead of spending your hard-earned cash on
shop-bought cards that will only end up in the recycling bin, why
not send your family and friends Christmas greetings they will want
to keep? You could:
- Use a favourite photo to create a personalised photo card
- If you have kids, give them some paper and get them to draw or
paint pictures that you can use to create special cards
- Record a video message on your smartphone or iPad and email it
to your family and friends
- Write a letter to your loved ones instead of sending a card.
This is a great way to tell them how much they mean to you, or
thank them for something special they might have done for you this
Rethink your wrapping by buying brown paper and string, or just
use plain coloured paper to wrap your presents. Then you'll avoid
pricey Christmas wrapping and can use the excess during the year to
wrap other gifts.
4. Be a scrooge online
If you're Christmas shopping online, look for ways to save every
cent you can. Before you start, do a web search for discount or
coupon codes that you can use at the checkout. Look in the sales
sections of retailers' websites to see what's on offer.
If you know what items you are looking for, search for them
online instead of just going 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, meaning it might
be better to simply go to a store to get the item. Or look for
items or shopping days that have free shipping.
Things are often much cheaper online than in a store, but you do
need to take extra precautions when shopping online.
5. Grab your gift cards
Australians love gift cards and vouchers, but too many of us let
the funds expire before we use them. Check the expiry date on any
gift cards you still have credit on, and consider putting this
money towards your Christmas costs. Every dollar of gift card
credit you use means you're spending one less dollar of your own
money. Every little bit helps!
Gift cards can also make good presents for people who are hard
to buy for, or if you just don't know what to get them. Giving gift
cards at Christmas also means the recipient can use them in the
6. Get 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 discount or deal apps that you can use to find
bargains that you can use as Christmas gifts.
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 legitimate. See the ACCC's SCAMwatch website for
tips on how to pick an online shopping scam.
7. Master the art of
Christmas gift hacking
There's a lot of pressure to spend up big on gifts at this time
of year, but pricey presents aren't necessarily the way to go. Here
are some ways you can show you care, while keeping a lid on your
- Agree on a spending limit - Suggest to your
loved ones that you set a limit on how much you will spend on gifts
for each other to keep your budgets under control
- Kids only - Talk to the other adults in your
extended family about only buying presents for the kids this year,
rather than for the adults
- DIY vouchers - We often remember the things
people do for us rather than the presents they give us. Consider
giving redeemable vouchers for tasks like babysitting, massages,
picnics, homemade dinners or even housework.
- Savvy sales - Take advantage of sales
throughout the year to nab some bargains and store them away for
Christmas. But, even in December there are bargains to be had. You
can also check out any clearance outlets near you, or sign up to
their newsletters so that you'll be in the know when they have a
- Compare offers - Some stores match or beat
competitors' deals, so compare their offers and take all the
details with you when you go into the store. Don't be afraid to ask
for a discount - you might just get a Christmas miracle!
- Secondhand bargains - Op shops, antique stores
and secondhand bookshops can be a treasure trove for the thrifty
Christmas shopper. If you're prepared to spend the time looking
through their stock, you can often find good quality items at a
fraction of the price you'd pay at big name stores.
Australia's Christmas spending
Check out our Christmas spending
infographic, which shows how much Australians spend at
Christmas, the different ways people pay for presents, and how long
it can take to pay off Christmas credit card debt.
8. 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 want 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 stick 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 visit so you
don't get distracted and impulse buy.
9. Track your spending
Keeping track of your festive spending is the best way to avoid
going over your budget this Christmas.
Use ASIC's MoneySmart's TrackMySPEND app
to nominate a spending limit for different types of Christmas
expenses and track your progress while you shop.
Track your personal expenses on the go.
10. Give to those less
Spread the Christmas cheer by giving to those who are doing it
tough. Consider donating to a charity on someone else's behalf
and give this to them as a gift. As well as money, many charities
also accept household items, clothes and groceries at Christmas, or
you could volunteer your time to help them out.
11. Lighten your load on
The costs of entertaining can skyrocket at this time of year.
But, with some simple planning, both you and your wallet can enjoy
the fruits of your labour. Here are some ways to lighten the
- Share the catering - Even if you're hosting
Christmas Day lunch or dinner, there's no need to shoulder all the
work yourself. Ask others to bring nibblies, drinks, salads or
- Buy only what you need - It can be easy to
overestimate how much food you'll need at Christmas, only to end up
throwing some away or eating leftovers for days. The calculator on
NSW EPA's Love Food Hate Waste website can
help you plan exactly how much food you will need for the number of
people you are catering for.
- Switch supermarkets - Make a list of the
groceries you need for Christmas, then take advantage of the
competition between supermarkets by checking out the advertised
specials and stocking up. Don't buy everything at the same shop if
you can get it cheaper elsewhere. You might even get better deals
at your local butcher or fruit shop.
- Use loyalty credits - If you belong to a
supermarket loyalty scheme that builds up credit after you've spent
a certain amount, check if you can use the credit to get a discount
on your Christmas grocery shop.
Read our article on how to save money on food for
more tips on cutting costs at the supermarket.
12. Plan for next Christmas
Once this Christmas is done and dusted, you should start
planning ahead for next year. Here are some ideas to make sure you
are set up for next Christmas:
- 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 ASIC's MoneySmart's 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 them a
few months ahead so you can pay them off over time.
Merry Christmas from ASIC's MoneySmart Team!
Last updated: 09 Oct 2018