Don't let Christmas cheer become New Year pain

We all do it – getting caught up in the Christmas vibe is fun after all, and it’s much more fun to be Santa than the Scrooge right?

The problem is making sure your Christmas cheer doesn’t become New Year pain when you get your credit card bill.

In todays “buy-now-pay-later” society, it’s so easy to lose control of your spending, especially at this time of year.

Many of us run to the mall and walk around aimlessly looking for things to buy, often with money we don’t have. The reality of this often only sets in when we receive a credit card statement with a few too many zeros. Ho Ho Ho quickly becomes Why Why Why?!

One thing’s for sure, by the end of January Christmas is going to feel like a distant memory. So let’s look at a few ways you can act like Santa and still remain jolly in 2019.

Like Santa, make a list and check it twice
Before you go shopping, sit down, maybe with a beer or glass of wine, and make a list of the people you want to buy for, noting down how much you want to spend on them. Once you have this list, you can start thinking of things they would like that fit the budget you’ve set. If you do nothing else, do this. Not only will it stop you having to visit the mall a hundred times, but you’ll be amazed how much this can save you in both money and stress.

Look for deals
Even though it’s not typically the time for sales, there are still deals to be had. When you drive past a sale sign in a shop window or receive a sale catalogue in the mail, take a few minutes to have a look. Even small discounts can really add up, not to mention you might be able to cross off a few names on your list in one go.

Don’t go to the mall
Okay, you can still go the mall. But don’t forget to check out your local shops. Other than supporting small business, independent retailers are often very competitive and sometimes even cheaper that the big shopping centres. Even if it’s only a few dollars it all adds up and it goes to a good cause, you!

Have a pre-Christmas eBay session
You’ve been looking at it all year, the hordes of stuff you have that’s in great condition that you never use and don’t really want. One man’s trash is definitely another man’s treasure. Take a few hours and gather up everything you can bear to live without – it’s the perfect time to whack it on eBay or any other sales platform. Not only will this save you from tripping over stuff in the middle of the night, but you might just make a little cash that you use for Christmas.

Christmas is for kids
I’m sure there are a few big kids that you want to buy something special for and that’s fine, but we often just end up exchanging things with our friends and family that, let’s be honest, we’re not really all that excited about. You give a candle and receive a bowl, know what I mean? While it might take a little courage, I’m sure that most adults would be happy to save the money and just enjoy a nice lunch or dinner together and let the kids enjoy the presents. In many cases, if just one of the adults said to their group “hey guys, let’s pass on the presents this year” I think many would welcome this and thank you for being the one to bring it up. Imagine the cost and stress this would save.

Gift cards are cool
While they have the reputation of being the “can’t think of what to buy you” gift, the good old gift card carries lots a bang for the buck. Everything’s expensive before Christmas, but what about afterwards – let’s talk sales. A $50.00 gift card might have the buying power of $100.00 in the post-Christmas sales, maybe more. Don’t discount the humble gift card as it can be as way of buying someone a better present than you can afford.

You don’t need to do all of these things, but even one or two will have an impact.
If you do a little planning and don’t lose sight of what you’re spending you can have a great Christmas, spoil the people close to you, and still keep your finances in check. It’s about being a smart Santa.

All right, off you go and spread some Christmas cheer. Merry Christmas!

John Dickinson is the director of DebtX Mediation Services, a debt mediation company focused on helping people regain financial control through the reduction and elimination of their debts. Learn more at www.debtx.com.au.

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