Spending wisely at Christmas

If you’d rather not start the New Year with a new debt, here’s a Christmas spending survival guide to help you smarten up your holiday habits.

Christmas is a great time of year in Australia! It’s summer, the cricket is on and there are plenty of public holidays on the horizon – people are more likely to be in a good mood.   Perhaps the only cloud attached to the season is that it is an expensive time of year, and many of us will stack up debt over the summer break.

If the silly season usually leaves you out of pocket, why not simplify things this year?  Here are some tips to help you enjoy the holiday season without breaking the bank.

Make a list and check it twice

Make lists of the gifts & food you need to buy for Christmas. Having lists will help you plan your spending and keep you on track.

  • Gifts – Make a list of who you’re buying for, what you want to get them, and how much money you’re prepared to spend on each person.
  • Entertainment supplies – List the food and drinks you’ll need, and how much you can spend. Buy in advance to take advantage of specials, especially if items can be frozen or have a long shelf life.
  • Travel plans – List all your costs like flights, accommodation, travel insurance, airport transfers and petrol. Shop around for deals as early as you can, to avoid paying a premium for last-minute bookings or peak season increases. If you’re going on a driving holiday, work out which day is cheapest to fill up on petrol, and do it the week before Christmas.

Be a scrooge online

If you’re Christmas shopping online, do a web search for discount or coupon codes that you can use at the checkout. Look in the sales sections of retailers’ websites to see what’s on offer.

If you know what items you are looking for, search for them online instead of just going to one retailer’s website. You might find it much cheaper somewhere else.

Make sure you include any shipping costs when you are comparing prices. The cost of some items can blow out once you add shipping, meaning it might be better to simply go to a store to get the item. Or look for items or retailers that have free shipping.  Better yet, check if there’s an option to pick up in-store. You’ll save on freight, skip any lines, and there will be less temptation to buy more.

Don’t forget to take extra precautions when shopping online.

Re-gift your gift cards

Check the expiry date on any gift cards you still have credit on, and consider putting this money towards your Christmas costs. Every dollar of gift card credit you use means you’re spending one less dollar of your own money. Every little bit helps!

Here are some things to be aware of when using or buying gift cards.

Track your spending

Keeping track of your festive spending is the best way to avoid going over your budget this Christmas.

Use our Fortress Wealth Hub to keep an eye on your Christmas expenses and track your progress while you shop.

Ease up on Christmas entertaining

The costs of entertaining can skyrocket at this time of year.  Here are some ways to lighten the Christmas load:

  • Share the catering – Even if you’re hosting Christmas Day lunch or dinner, there’s no need to shoulder all the work yourself. Ask others to bring nibblies, drinks, salads or desserts.
  • Buy only what you need – Try not to overestimate how much food you’ll need at Christmas, or you’ll end up throwing some away or eating leftovers for days.
  • Switch supermarkets – Make a list of the groceries you need for Christmas, then take advantage of the competition between supermarkets by checking out the advertised specials and stocking up. Don’t buy everything at the same shop if you can get it cheaper elsewhere. You might even get better deals at your local butcher or fruit shop.
  • Use loyalty credits – If you belong to a supermarket loyalty scheme that builds up credit after you’ve spent a certain amount, check if you can use the credit to get a discount on your Christmas grocery shop.

We hope this list helps make your Christmas free from money-related stress.  Good luck, and happy holidays!

To book a free consultation to improve your budgeting, or get your Christmas debt under control, please book online or contact us on info@fortressfs.com.au 


Fortress Financial Solutions founder Chris Black is an award-winning financial planner based in Toowoomba who specialises in superannuation, investing, business succession, cash flow management, retirement planning and personal insurances (including life insurance, income protection, total permanent disability and trauma insurance).

Corporate Authorised Representative of Magnitude Group Pty Ltd ABN 54 086 266 202, AFSL 221557.

This article first appeared on ASIC MoneySmart.

Information on this site may be regarded as general advice. That is, your personal objectives, needs or financial situations were not taken into account when preparing this information. Accordingly, you should consider the appropriateness of any general advice we have given you, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs before acting on it. Where the information relates to a particular financial product, you should obtain and consider the relevant product disclosure statement before making any decision to purchase that financial product.

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