Make this Chrissy magical without spending a fortune by following a few simple planning strategies. Eight weeks is all it takes to save money and reach your holiday goals.
There’s no denying that much of Australia had to put their usual Christmas plans on hold in 2020, not only because of government restrictions on gatherings, but also because, for many, money has been tight. And this year it still might be. The good news is, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a memorable festive season.
Prepare for Christmas with an 8-week savings plan. Here’s how.
Week 1: Set up your Christmas budget
Presents account for a large proportion of Christmas spending – in fact, Australians are forecast to spend $11 billion1 on gifts alone this festive season – gift buyers expected to spend $726 each, while other costs loom as well. Use your first week to put together a comprehensive Christmas budget worksheet for the summer period.
Toys, jigsaw puzzles and boardgames top the list of most popular gifts.
According to research from the Australian Retailers Association in conjunction with Roy Morgan2.
Don’t forget to factor in how these other expenses might impact your family:
- Food: Every December, our food consumption surges – pricey tropical fruits, turkey or ham, seafood… Last year, Australians spent $23.8 billion on festive foods3.
- Drinks: Our consumption of alcohol rose during the pandemic, with 14% of us reporting we were drinking more. And it rises yet again over the festive season, to a household average of $453 across the summer period, compared to autumn’s $3854.
- Entertainment: School’s out, and holidays offer more time for movies, hobbies, and visits to parks and zoos.
- Decorations: Think Christmas trees, festive lighting, oversized Santa statues for the front lawn…
- Charity donations: Australians are four times more likely to donate to charity at the end of the year than at its start5.
- Parties: Aussies spend $25 a week on parties over the summer, 93% more than other times of the year6.
- Utilities: Christmas may mean more people visiting your house, more appliances in use, and corresponding spikes in consumption of water and electricity.
Australians are expected to spend on gifts in the 2021 Christmas season7
the amount Aussies spent on festive foods in 20208
the increase in average household alcohol consumption over the Australian summer, compared to autumn9
Week 2: Prepare a Christmas savings plan
With a clearer picture of how much this holiday season could cost you, it’s time to develop a plan to reach your savings goals over the next seven weeks.
Calculate how much money you need to put aside each week to meet your summer spending surge, then determine whether you can, realistically, reach this target.
Once you have an achievable plan in place, consider setting up or repurposing a separate account for your Christmas savings. Automate a weekly transfer from your day-to-day account to your Christmas account, so you don’t have to think about moving money around. Keep track of your progress – you may be able to reach your goal sooner than you planned.
Given lockdowns and restrictions over the last two years, it’s not surprising to hear that online shopping has surged across the country. In fact, it’s up more than 23%, year on year10. While it can be fun wandering around stores over the festive season, this can also be a time and money waster.
Consider making a list of gift recipients this year and allocating a present idea to each of them. Do some online research to determine how much each Christmas gift might cost you, and whether that’s within your budget.
Christmas gifts on a low budget? Sometimes less is more – it’s better to keep your purchases meaningful or consider homemade gifts.
Week 4: Shop local for Christmas gifts
When it comes to buying Christmas gifts for friends and family in another city, state or country, consider retailers with a base in those destinations, to reduce delivery fees. Start planning and purchasing as early as possible – Christmas is a busy time of year for deliveries, this year more than ever, and growth in demand for online shopping may mean higher delivery fees for on-time arrival.
If you’re using Australia Post, familiarise yourself with suggested ‘send by’ dates12 to avoid the express fees and time delays due to the already stressed system.
Week 5: Track your savings progress
You’re halfway through your 8-week Christmas savings challenge – it’s a good idea to review your savings and make sure your goals are on track. If you’re falling short, it’s time to either:
a) revisit your budget and decide where to cut back, or
b) explore ways to boost your savings. From selling extra ‘stuff’ you have lying around the house to discussing different plans with your utilities providers, there are plenty of novel ways to save more in a short period of time.
Week 6: Start researching shopping deals
Take advantage of any pre-Christmas sales – but make sure you research those bargains first. Use the gift list you created in week 3 to avoid spontaneous and potentially budget-busting purchases.
Start by researching which retailers offer the best deals on these items. Do you need to travel across town to find an item (which will cost you time and money), or will a store near you match the price? Take your research digital and you may find a wider range and better deals in online stores, but be mindful of any delivery fees that may cancel out any bargains you find. By starting your Christmas shopping early, you might be able to snag some sizable discounts in the Black Friday sales.
Week 7: Finish shopping and wrap your Christmas gifts
You’ve put up the tree, stocked up on drinks and sent out the cards – let the fun part of the festive season begin. If you discover you’ve neglected someone but cannot bear the thought of heading back into the stores, consider purchasing gift cards or vouchers (or a charitable donation) online. They can be emailed directly to friends or family members and used for something they really need.
Week 8: Review your budget
With your main purchases out of the way, it’s time to review your budget and check your Christmas savings account balance. Do you have enough for the Christmas groceries? extra entertainment? A cheeky present for yourself? A New Year’s Eve gathering?
Then again, it’s never too early to start saving for 2022… travel is back on the agenda, after all, and we’re all in need of a holiday.
1, 2, 7 Roy Morgan (September 2021): Countdown to Christmas – Australians set to spend over $11 billion on gifts
3, 8 Roy Morgan (November 2020): 2020 Christmas retail sales set to grow 2.8% to $54.3 billion
4, 6, 9 Australian Bureau of Statistics (December 2018): Counting down to Christmas 2018 with the ABS
5 McCrindle: Donating to a charity replacing traditional gift giving this Christmas
10 Australia Post (September 2021): Inside Australian Online Shopping
11 Australia Post: Tis the season to be early
Budget impact on your tax return26 May 2022 | Blog The Federal Budget contained a number of proposed changes that could impact your tax return. From fuel excise cuts to one-off cost of living payments and tax rebates, here’s what you need to know. Read more
10 money conversations to have with your partner17 February 2022 | Manage my money If you haven’t had the money talk, here are the top 10 things to discuss with your partner early on. Read more
6 things to know about buy now pay later services24 January 2022 | Manage my money Nearly 85% of financial counsellors in Australia say half, most or all clients now have buy now pay later debt. Read more
What you need to know
Any advice on this web page is provided by AWM Services Pty Ltd ABN 15 139 353 496, AFSL No. 366121 (AWM Services) and is general in nature only. It doesn’t consider your personal goals, financial situation or needs. It’s important you consider the appropriateness of any advice and read the relevant product disclosure statement and target market determination available at amp.com.au, before deciding what’s right for you. AWM Services is part of the AMP group and can be contacted on 131 267 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read our Financial Services Guide online for information about our services, including the fees and other benefits that AMP companies and their representatives may receive in relation to products and services provided to you. You can also ask us for a hardcopy.
All information on this website is subject to change without notice. AWM Services is part of the AMP group.