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Don’t Be The Christmas Grinch – Budget Accordingly!

Press Release – New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants

It happens every year the shocking realisation that Christmas is just around the corner. For many of us, Christmas is a joyful time of year, but also a financial challenge with lots of extra costs and pressures. To make sure youre on the front …

It happens every year – the shocking realisation that Christmas is just around the corner.

For many of us, Christmas is a joyful time of year, but also a financial challenge with lots of extra costs and pressures.

To make sure you’re on the front foot financially, Chartered Accountants ANZ (CA ANZ) Financial Services Leader, John Cuthbertson FCA, has released his five top tips to keep your Christmas budget on track.

“No one wants to wake up in the New Year with a hangover – financial or otherwise – and there are budgeting and savings steps that you can take now to prevent that from happening,” Mr Cuthbertson said.

“Now of course we are not suggesting you have to be the grinch – many families have built up a savings reserve during the pandemic and should rightfully looking forward to spending some of it.

“We are just suggesting that there are steps you can take now to avoid blowing he whole lot on a festive-fuelled Christmas shopping spree. Just like with food and booze, the key to success is moderation, moderation, moderation.

“To help you set and stick to your Christmas budget, we have put together this list of five top tips.”

1. Gifts – pick your limit and stick to it

“Every year my family says, ‘no gifts this year!’ – and every year, they bring gifts,” Mr Cuthbertson said.

“When you’re buying for two sides of the family, the costs can add up quickly.

“To keep spending under control, I recommend picking a total amount you are willing to spend on gifts and divide that by how many people you’re buying for. Then you have a set amount for each person to work with.

“And remember – young kids don’t care how much their present cost, so don’t get carried away.”

2. Catering – don’t go overboard and look for specials

“I think most families over-cater on Christmas day, but there’s only so much left-over ham you can (or, at least, should!) stomach.

“To avoid this, plan ahead with your family to decide who brings what dish. Keep an eye out for discounts and specials too – they can make a real difference to the grand total when you save a few dollars here and there.

“Your waistline will thank you, as well as your wallet!”

3. When travelling – shop around for the best prices

“With travel restrictions easing, people will be keen to hit the road or the skies to see their families this Christmas.

“While there are some deals to be had, unfortunately they’re rarely at Christmas, with fuel costs often rising and accommodation over the festive season being eye-wateringly expensive.

“To get the best bang for your buck at the bowser, use apps like Gaspy to find the cheapest fuel close to you – in some areas there has been a 30 cent per litre difference just by picking the right station.

“And shop around online for the best accommodation and flight costs. Some platforms can save you a hefty amount for the same room in the same hotel, which can be put towards other things (like my next point!).”

4. Have a cash reserve in case things go wrong

“Things can go wrong over the silly season – so it’s important to have a cash reserve in case you need to call in a plumber to fix a broken tap or leaky shower while the family is visiting.

“These call outs can be incredibly expensive, especially after hours. So, squirrel away a cash reserve that remains untouched in case you land yourself in hot water at some point.

5. Don’t load up the credit card

“Credit cards can be a useful tool from time to time, however what you pay today you have to pay back tomorrow, often at an eye-watering interest rate.

“Review your spending and ask yourself: ‘do I really need this and can I afford it?’ If the answer is no to either, the solution is not the credit card, it’s to walk away.”

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