Thursday, 24 November 2016

Make your Christmas shopping less taxing (ha…)

With only five Saturdays left until Christmas Day, here are some tips to help you get organised and save some money.
The total retail spending for December 2015 in Australia was $24.8billion, and is projected to rise this December1. Great news for all our retail clients, but it can be a bit tough on the annual household budget.
Which brings me to tip number one:

1. Make a budget, and stick to it.
Hopefully you’ve read and adopted our tips on budgeting already, but when it comes to Christmas time it can be particularly important to monitor your spending. Research in 2014 found that 57% of Australians set a budget, but only 19% stuck to it2.
There are plenty of apps for budgeting and tracking your spending - ASIC’s MoneySmart website has some great tips and tools on budgeting, and of course there are many third-party apps for tracking your spending (you can find just a few listed here). Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with a pen-and-notepad approach either - whatever works for you, keeping an eye on what you spend can help curb overspending, and has the added benefit of keeping track of what you’ve bought for whom.
IMG_1691.JPG2.  Plan your gift-giving and buying.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to make your list and check it twice. Are you going to get gifts for extended family? Just for their children? Are you part of a Secret Santa draw (a Google search for Secret Santa might help organising the gift-buying)? For all your colleagues? Will you get a few extra gifts, just in case anyone drops by? Perhaps it might be something to discuss with the people with whom you celebrate Christmas, to clear up any confusion and expectations.
retail-shopping-tired-e1370017906371.jpgWhatever you decide is up to you and what you’re comfortable with - just make sure you plan for it! If you only plan and budget to buy gifts for your immediate family, but decide to get 20 extra gifts once you’re at the shops, you’ll very quickly blow your budget.
Allow plenty of time to buy the gifts you need. If you are going to buy everything in-store, a good idea might be to go a few times and get a few gifts with each visit. Besides helping you scope out gift ideas and compare prices, knowing that you have that extra time will prevent panicked overspending. Plus, if you’re anything like me, after a few hours trudging through the stores you’ll be too drained to be thinking of the perfect gift and just grab what’s closest.

3. Embrace the digital age.

It’s not too late to order online, and if you don’t want to pay for postage, many of the major stores around Australia now offer Click & Collect services, so you can just pop in and grab your items, leaving someone else to do the legwork.
Shopping from the comfort of your home takes the stress and time-pressure out of selecting gifts, and will help avoid impulse buying. You can also take advantage of reading reviews of potential gifts online at the same time. You can even order most gift cards online, and have them sent straight to those family members you won’t be seeing in the holidays.

4. Plan how you’ll pay.

Consider paying in cash only - research on the psychology of spending suggests it’s much easier to overspend when paying with a credit card, or even gift certificate3. If you do pay on credit, as around 20% of aussies do4, make sure you have a plan to pay it off to avoid the sting of late fees and interest.

5. Get a head-start on next year.

I’ve always liked the idea of buying gifts throughout the year, but it can be hard to plan for someone else’s needs, in secret, 12 months in advance. If there are certain gifts you know you’ll be giving next year, consider layby, or keep an eye on sales throughout the year.
If you don’t have any gift ideas yet, why not do everything short of buying the gifts? Start making lists now, and start saving. By putting aside $35 a week now, by December 2017 you’ll have a healthy nest egg of around $2,000 - and that’s not including any interest you might earn on the savings account of your choice. ASIC’s savings calculator can help you plan for your savings goal.
These tips will take the stress out of Christmas gift-buying. If you have any questions about budgeting, tax-savvy tips, planning your work Christmas party (see Andrew’s myth-busting blog here) or planning for the year ahead, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Our office will be closed on Thursday 22nd December 2016, and re-open Tuesday 3rd January 2017. The team at Vivid Chartered Accountants wishes everyone a safe and happy festive season.


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