Published on August 30, 2018 5:36 am, by Jen Bakker
With just a bit more than 3 months to go, it’s a great time to take a look at your spending and see if you can start 2019 without post-Christmas credit card debt you have to pay off.
To put things in perspective, last year Australians spent more than $50 billion in the Christmas sales. The average Australian spent $600 on gifts and had credit card debt in January of $1,666.
A bit of preparation and a few changes to your spending can mean instead of using your credit card to finance Christmas, you can save enough money to be debt free in January.
Here are our favourite tips for reigning in your spending – remember, if you can find $100 per week over 10 weeks, you will have $1,000 in your pocket to get you through the Christmas season.
Identify & stop habitual spending
Most of us have regular spending that we could stop for a while and have a healthier bank account. Some examples are convenience eating, coffee, alcohol, a daily soft drink or sugar hit, mindlessly using data & being charged for extra, buying magazines, papers & books.
Downsize your commuting arrangements
How do you travel? If you drive, make sure you’re buying the cheapest petrol and have the cheapest parking, maybe consider carpooling or catching public transport. If you catch public transport, can you ride your bike, or walk some or part of the way?
Review your electricity & gas plans
This is one of our favourite things to do (check out our Bill Watch feature!). On average we find yearly savings of $600 for customers who switch between their current plan and the cheapest plan available. This equates to about $115 over 10 weeks.
Find a cheaper mobile or home internet plan
There are so many options for mobile and internet plans. See how much data you are using and check whether you can find a cheaper plan. You may also wish to ditch the home internet plan and go fully mobile.
Be smarter about grocery shopping – buy generic or on sale
It’s true that people who menu plan, write a list and stick to it, spend less. Grocery catalogues come out on a Monday night for the sales starting Wednesday. Going through them might not sound like fun, but if you can do it for 10 weeks and even save $20 per week, that’s $200 between now and Christmas.
Ban yourself from non-essential shopping until Christmas
How many times do you spontaneously pop into your favourite shop and come out with a bag? Don’t go in and you won’t know what you’re missing!
Challenge yourself to stay away from leisure shopping for 10 weeks.
Review your direct debits & automatic payments
Every few months we suggest reviewing your bank statements for services you pay for but don’t use, or only sometimes use. Understandably people pay for convenience, however, not paying for a while may mean extra money in your pocket. Some examples include gym memberships, magazine subscriptions, regular food boxes (with food you don’t always eat), and even bank fees for accounts you don’t really need.
Review your insurance – home, contents, car, life, health, income protection
If you haven’t negotiated your insurance for a while, what’s stopping you? Insurance companies know that people are always looking for a better deal. New customers get offered great promotional offers, so find one, or if you really like your current insurer, take them a better deal and see if they’ll match it. Brand loyalty doesn’t pay off while asking for a better price often does! See if you can save yourself $200 by shopping around.
Sell unused stuff you have around the house
Spring is coming, it’s a great time to clear out unwanted or unused items around your home. Apparently, most of us have an average of $5,200 worth of unwanted goods lying around. Think about things like clothes and shoes, books and magazines, games and toys, crockery, kitchen appliances, furniture and unused gifts.
When eating out use vouchers or skip the extras – dessert, soft drink etc.
Vouchers are on trend! Dinner out with a discount from the Entertainment Book or Dimmi or a voucher you’ve bought on Scoopon or Groupon are good ways to have a lovely meal at a lower price. Other ways to eat out and save include forgoing the extras – no dessert and water instead of soft drink is a saving of $15.
If you really want to challenge yourself, don’t eat out for the next 10 weeks and see how much you can save!
Cook extra at dinner & take leftovers for lunch
Work or study day lunches add up quickly. If you’re a fan of convenience, why not double your dinner prep and bring leftovers for lunch the next day?
If you regularly buy lunch and do this, chances are you will save anywhere between $20 and $40 per week.
And don’t forget, another way to come out of Christmas with a healthy bank balance is to set a budget. Before you start tallying up how much you think you might spend, we suggest that you have a chat with your friends and family, and discuss setting a limit for the year. This can be a good way of containing the feel-good Christmas spending craziness, especially if you find others are happy to spend less too!
Jen is an experienced banking professional who loves wine, coffee, finding a bargain and of course her three beautiful children. Since Jen's first budget led her to buy a home at 20, Jen has passionately helped others to make better decisions with their money.