Some ways to manage your money and your time this festive season.

It’s the morning after the night before. You wake up on Boxing Day and stumble into the lounge room to face what looks like…Armageddon. There’s wrapping paper strewn all over the floor, every surface is covered with toys and knick-knacks that seemed like a good idea at the time and the recycling bin is already choc-a-block full of packaging.

Your head a little fuzzy from the second bottle of Tassie sparkling, you stumble over to the kitchen and open the fridge. Things don’t get any better. The second pavlova with today’s use-by date has hardly been touched, the fridge shelves can barely accommodate the leftover meats and you’re not sure how you’re going to get through all that extra seafood. Half of this will have to go.

Switching on the kettle, you check your phone only to find an unwelcome automated email from the bank. Apparently all that last-minute shopping maxed out your credit card and repayments are due to start shortly. A nice cool shower will help shake the Tassie sparkling out of your system. But you have a sinking suspicion the rest of your Christmas hangover will take a little longer to recover from.

You’re not sure that Christmas was meant to be this way…

How to cut back this Christmas and avoid a festive hangover

If this sounds familiar and your memories of last Christmas are clouded by nagging feelings of guilt over the waste and excess—not to mention the lingering credit card bill—you’re not alone. Last Christmas Australians planned to spend an average of $955 over the festive season. We were left with an average credit card debt of $1,666. And almost one in five of us failed to pay off our Christmas debt in six months1.

So it’s not surprising that more than three out of four Australians are looking cutting costs this Christmas.

  • 51% will set a spending limit
  • 17% are doing Secret Santa
  • 17% are making or baking gifts
  • 13% will regift their unwanted presents
  • And 15% say they won’t buy presents at all2!

OK, so going the full Grinch could be a little extreme. But this Christmas could be time to do things a little differently. It’s not about being a Scrooge, it’s about being more aware of the impact of your choices on the environment and your hip pocket. While giving (and receiving) gifts and enjoying a special meal with friends and family are wonderful parts of Christmas, there are ways of doing it more mindfully this year…and waking up with less of a financial hangover.

Smart budgeting tips for Christmas

  • Choose thoughtful but modest gifts such as handmade items, home-cooked meals or plants for the garden.
  • Go for experiences rather than stuff to reduce waste—massage vouchers, wine tours or a visit to the zoo. It doesn’t have to be super expensive, a picnic in the park or a family day out to the beach can provide wonderful Christmas memories without needing to break the bank.
  • Take advantage of sale periods and stockpile gifts to help your money go further and spread the cost of Christmas throughout the year.
  • Consider using AMP’s Money Manager to set a budget and work out a spending plan on gifts, food and entertainment…and stick to it!
  • Try leaving the credit card at home and only spend what you have by using cash or a debit card.

‘Tis the season to be mindful—helping others this Christmas

Being more mindful isn’t just about how you spend your money. It’s also about how you spend your time. Now, you don’t want to feel guilty over Christmas and New Year. After all, it’s important to celebrate the year that’s gone with friends and family. But it is worth taking a moment to think about less fortunate people in your community.

Not everyone has a network of family and friends to enjoy the festive season, or the money to help things go with a swing. So if you have time, why not think about helping others.

  • You could volunteer at a food shelter—check out Volunteering Australia, Meals on Wheels or The Smith Family.
  • You could spend time at a retirement village helping senior Australians by reading or accompanying them on walks.
  • You could donate items of food to the less fortunate—Foodbank agencies feed 652,000 Australians every month, including 216,000 children3.

And you never know, by helping others you could help yourself come closer to the true meaning of Christmas.


1 Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s MoneySmart. Australia’s Christmas Spending.
2, Christmas cutback: How 14 million Aussies will save on gifts, 29 October 2018.
Foodbank Australia.

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