Money

Money for Christmas

Paul Clitheroe.
Paul Clitheroe.

WE certainly live in interesting times.

The run up to Christmas is traditionally a period of big spending - and in some cases, overspending. But recent research shows that this year, many Australians are putting saving or debt reduction ahead of festive season spending.

According to ING DIRECT's latest Household Financial Wellbeing Index, 28% of Australians are planning to loosen their purse strings in the lead up to Christmas.

But here's the interesting thing. The same proportion of households (28%) say they'd prefer to knuckle down and pay off debt rather than go to town with Christmas spending. And a further 37% say they want to get debt under control before they kick start household spending

Does it mean we should all expect an empty space under the tree on Christmas morning? I doubt it. I suspect that over the weeks ahead, many of us will get into the Christmas spirit and relax household budgets for a while at least That's not entirely a bad thing - after all life is meant to be enjoyed. But the key is to take a controlled approach.

Getting in early with your Christmas shopping for instance, lets you take advantage of lay-by - and there's still time.

Some stores may charge a small fee for this but the beauty of lay-by is that you can pay off purchases at a pace that suits your budget. You won't face any of the high interest charges associated with credit card debt, and the goods can be held in-store until close to Christmas Day. It's an option that ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to keeping debt under control.

In terms of meeting savings goals, it's worth casting your net wide to take advantage of lower prices.

Shopping online is an easy way to compare prices and save but it pays to make sure you're dealing with a reputable site. Always allow for freight charges or foreign exchange differences if you're buying from an offshore retailer.

If you're committed to keeping a rein on spending over the holiday season, a sensible step is to draft a Christmas budget. And no friend or relative worth their salt is going to care if the price of the gift you gave is modest.

Where possible, stick to your normal financial regime over the coming festive season. Pay a bit extra off debts including your home loan and credit card, and tuck any spare cash into a high interest savings account.

Christmas is a big deal - and a terrific time of year. But the golden rule is that you don't have to put your finances through the wringer to have fun.

For more on smart ways to buy, and tips on paying off debt sooner, take a look at my book Making Money.

Paul Clitheroe is a founding director of financial planning firm ipac, Chairman of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and chief commentator for Money magazine. Visit www.paulsmoney.com.au for more information.

Topics:  christmas, clitheroe, saving, shopping



VIDEO: Great-grandma sky dives with her doctor into Kirra

FREE FALLING: Betty Gregory skydives over Kirra Beach.

A PALM Beach great-grandmother has gone skydiving with her GP

Banana Festival makes a splash

Redland Shire Marching Drum band.

The Tweed Valley Banana Festival was a huge success.

Creating maximum potential in our youth

FUTURE LEADERS: Eight students and their mentors participated in the Max Potential program.

Students show their max potential in the community.

Latest deals and offers

Australian Survivor's Peter: I'm no quitter

Australian Survivor contestant Peter Fiegehen.

ILLNESS forces castaway's early exit from Samoa.

Diva's sister on soliciting charge

FILE - In this May 14, 2016 file photo, Mariah Carey attends the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, in New York. Carey will appear on the Oct. 5 episode of the Fox series, \"Empire,\" the network confirmed Monday at a TV critics bi-annual press tour. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP, File)

Mariah Carey's sister has been arrested on charges of prostitution.

Tom Cruise private jets his gym kit around the world

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise charters private to take his gym kit around the world

Movie behind Depp and Heard split to be released

Soon you'll be able to see the movie that ended the marriage

Bindi's boyfriend helps release huge croc

Chandler (far right) helped the jump team.

Chandler Powell helps catch Duncan the croc

Mick Jagger to pay £2.5m to the woman carrying his baby

Mick Jagger is reportedly paying millions to pregnant ballerina

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

Investors eye Gladstone's $4m island with resort approval

UP FOR SALE: Turtle Island is on the market.

CHINESE and Sydney investors flag interest in Gladstone island.

Take a sneak peek at this $19m Whitsunday mansion

Mandalay House features a private helipad.

Mandalay is currently on the market with an asking price of $19m