Rein in your Christ­mas spend­ing

The Western Star - - MONEY SAVER -

SO­PHIE ELSWORTH SHOP­PING may­hem will put many Aus­tralians un­der pres­sure as they rush to fill their fes­tive stock­ings, with only three weeks be­fore Christ­mas.

To help avoid a blowout, we have com­piled a check­list on how to rein in your spend­ing while also en­sur­ing you have a jolly good Christ­mas. 1 BUDGET

New data from debt so­lu­tions agency Fox Symes found Aus­tralians’ Christ­mas budget will hit a whop­ping $13.2 bil­lion, or about $680 each.

Fox Symes ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Deb­o­rah Southon said “the only way we can get through Christ­mas is to be very dis­ci­plined”.

“We must set a budget at the very begin­ning, oth­er­wise you will be one of those peo­ple who, come Jan­uary, will find you are un­able to meet your credit card bills,” she said.

“The minute you shop with credit you are spend­ing money that you don’t have and you have to pay it back.”

Mother of three Jo Wil­son said she had a sep­a­rate Christ­mas Club ac­count and tucked away $50 a month.

“We spend about $500 each per child, so we just top up the amount at the end of the year,” she said. 2 SHOP­PING LIST Check with fam­ily and friends to see if you can cut back on presents. Se­cret Santa is a good op­tion so you are not left buy­ing to­ken presents.

Na­tional Aus­tralia Bank state gen­eral man­ager (SA/NT) Gregg Har­ris rec­om­mended writ­ing a list.

“Make a list of peo­ple and what you’d like to buy for them, as it can help avoid last-minute im­pulse pur­chases which blow the budget,” he said. 3 LOOK FOR SPE­CIALS

Re­tail­ers have al­ready rolled out plenty of dis­count deals at Black Fri­day and Cy­ber Mon­day sales, but don’t worry if you have missed out be­cause there are al­ways plenty of pre-Christ­mas sales.

Mr Har­ris said it was vi­tal shop­pers searched for the best deals be­fore buy­ing any­thing.

“Re­search can be done by col­lect­ing cat­a­logues, check­ing stores’ web­sites and by com­par­ing on­line prices with in-store prices,” he said.

Ms Wil­son said she was al­ways hunt­ing for good deals. “Junk mail is great; I use that and look through cat­a­logues to find the cheap­est price,” she said. 4 ON­LINE SHOP­PING

The ease of shop­ping 24/7 has made it seam­less to spend up big, but Ms Southon warned shop­pers to have re­straint when buy­ing on­line.

“On­line shop­ping is al­ways avail­able, the risk is ex­po­nen­tial and much greater than an ac­tual shop,” she said. “Be­fore you press the but­ton to say ‘buy’ or ‘add to cart’, stop, close the site and think about it.” Shop­pers should also be wary of postage costs.

Pic­ture: Si­mon Cross

BAG­GING A BAR­GAIN: Well-pre­pared Christ­mas shop­per Jo Wil­son with daugh­ter Evie, 6, flanked by sons Phoenix, 14, and Fynn, 17.

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