How to avoid a financial hangover after Christmas

It's very easy to overspend during the festive season. Be kind to your wallet by following these twelve tips on gift giving and more.

Do a budget
Write out a list of the people you'd like to buy for and put a price limit next to each name. If it adds up to too much, review the limits you've set.
Organise a 'Secret Santa'
Instead of buying a gift for everyone, consider a 'Kris Kringle' arrangement where each member in your family draws a name out of a hat and only buys a present for that person. Don't forget to set a price limit.
Shop in end of season sales and use catalogues
Get organised and start your shopping early at the end of season sales. Scour the catalogues to ensure you're getting the best price as huge savings can be made by shopping around, especially on toys.
Don't forget layby
Some large retailers offer no deposit laybys right up until Christmas which is something to take advantage of.
Shop online
More often than not you can find the item you want for a fraction of the cost. Books make a great Christmas gift and can often be ordered on the internet at heavily discounted prices.
Get baking
The most appreciated gifts are often the ones that are made with love. Homemade fruit cakes, rocky road, shortbread, jam and relishes are festive favourites.
Stockpile Christmas groceries
Pop a few extra non-perishable items in your shopping trolley each week and store them away in the pantry, so your Christmas grocery shopping bill won't be so scary.
Buy booze in bulk
Most bottle shops offer great specials around this time of year, so keep an eye out early on and be ready to pounce when the prices are low.
Be credit card wise
While credit cards are convenient, they are also addictive over the Christmas period and can quickly undo a well-planned budget. Avoid buying gifts with credit, unless you are going to be able to pay off your card before interest is charged.
Ask family for vouchers this Christmas
Then take them to the after Christmas clearance sales. You'll get more bang for your buck, and that way, you can really choose what you want.
Start paying off your holiday now
If you're going away over the Christmas break, try to pay off your accommodation costs in instalments before you leave. Also, aim to keep the holiday within your budget.
Think about New Year expenses
When doing your Christmas budget, don't forget to factor in some of the big expenses you'll be facing in the new year. If you've got children, be mindful that all those back to school costs are just around the corner.
With a bit of planning, you can jingle all the way to Christmas with money left over.
Dianne Charman is an AMP financial planner and mother of two.
Dianne Charman is an Authorised Representative of AMP Financial Planning Pty Ltd, ABN 89 051 208 327, AFS Licence No. 232706. Any advice given is general only and has not taken into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, before acting on any advice, you should consult a financial planner to consider how appropriate the advice is to your objectives, financial situation and needs.
To find your nearest AMP financial planner visit www.amp.com.au/findaplanner.

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