The holiday period can be an incredibly expensive time when you factor in gifts and catering for Christmas, New Year’s festivities, interstate or overseas holidays and even just keeping the kids entertained during the school break. With all of these costs adding up it can be hard to imagine ever seeing a healthy bank balance again, but with a bit of self-discipline, some planning and even a savings challenge, you can have your savings back on track again in no time.
Try the 52-Week Challenge
The 52-Week Challenge is a simple savings strategy designed to help you save $1,378 in a year with very little effort and without making sacrifices that will affect your lifestyle.
For each week, simply put aside the same amount corresponding with where it falls in the calendar year. For example, 1 – 7 January is week one, 8 – 14 January is week two and so on. Put aside $1 in week one, $2 in week two and continue until you are putting away $52 in your final week.
Another variation of this challenge is to flip the weeks so that you’re putting away $52 in week one and working backwards so that the closer to the silly season you get, you are only contributing a few dollars each week and the financial strain is lessened.
If $1,378 doesn’t seem like enough of a savings plan for the year, why not double or triple it?
Change the way you socialise
Let’s face it, by the time mid-January comes around everyone is sick of eating and drinking anyway, so why not suggest cheap or free social activities rather than expensive meals out?
Australians are lucky enough to enjoy Christmas over summer, which means you can take advantage of the warm weather and catch up with friends over a walk or swim at your nearest beach. Not the outdoors type? No problem! How about supporting independent and small businesses with a wander around your local markets, buying fresh produce for a budget breakfast or picnic? If you need some time to recharge or just want to have some alone time a visit to the library might be more your speed.
By tightening the purse strings and taking a few weeks (or months) to recuperate, you’ll not only save a lot of money, but you may also cut down on alcohol consumption and enjoy a lot more home-cooked food.
Make cash from unwanted gifts
It’s a bit cheeky, but we all receive gifts at Christmas time that we wish we had never unwrapped. Rather than adding hard rubbish to landfill or taking up precious storage space at home, try to sell the items on eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Market Place – just make sure the giver doesn’t see your post!
If you have received gift cards for stores you don’t frequent or brands that aren’t really your style, you can also sell them, and usually, for only a small amount less than they are worth (i.e. a $100 voucher could be sold for $90).
Finally, if you are able to return any unwanted gifts for cash or a gift card that might help you save cash later down the track – do it! Ultimately, if you end up using the money for something you really like it is far more honourable than throwing away something somebody gifted you in the first place.
Ascertain your financial position
As quickly as Christmas comes around each year, just a few short months later the next big block of public holidays falls, with the Easter long weekend and ANZAC Day taking place. If you plan on going away or using that free time to socialise with friends and family, make sure you are in a comfortable financial position to do so, and not still feeling the effects of Christmas.
If you have overspent during the Christmas period – particularly if you relied on credit cards – take some time to work out exactly how much is owing and what your financial goals are to have the debt paid as soon as manageable. It can be daunting to consider your finances and tackle any bad debt you may have, but being realistic about your spending and your capacity to pay debt down can also be very freeing and help you to plan in the long term so that all your holiday periods can be joyous occasions.
For further advice or budgeting tips, get in touch with one of our mortgage brokers at Preston Finance and Insurance.