Photo by Hanniz

By Jessica Wee

Christmas season is indeed the most wonderful time of the year with joyful songs filling the air and festive lights flickering away. Can Christmas shopping still be wonderful without spending more than usual especially with inflation hitting us at every corner.

Everyday life is already stressful enough having to meet the fixed costs of rising food prices, petrol, and gas (for our friends in countries going through winter).

A Bloomberg report cited that 1 in 5 parents are expecting to go into debt this year as a result of buying Christmas gifts. Some are even spending so much that their debt will stretch to the next Christmas which causes an unending debt cycle. 

For those of us solely relying on credit cards for buying Christmas gifts, the harsh reality is that you simply cannot afford buying them.

Fortunately, there are ways to keep the costs down without having to sacrifice the spirit of gift giving. Try these top tips for enjoying Christmas and start the new year without a financial hangover!

1. Plan before you spend! 

Making a budget will not only help you to limit your spending, but knowing what exactly you need and how much it will cost can help to reduce your financial anxiety. 

Many things are more expensive than they were this time last year, so make sure you take that into account when planning out your spending. 

2. Keep track of your spending

Once you’ve set a budget, keeping track of your spending means you’re less likely to overspend. Whether it’s by using a notebook, an app on your phone or an excel spreadsheet on your laptop, choose a system that works for you.

If your bank offers you alerts for when your current account dips below a set amount, opt in. 

Another option is to download free money management apps, such as Emma, Loot, and Money Manager Expense & Budget to keep track of expenses more easily.

3. Do ‘family gifts’ or a Secret Santa

If you’ve got a lot of people to buy for, such as extended family and friend groups, suggesting a Secret Santa is a great way to keep the costs down. A large box of chocs, tin of biscuits or sweets or a board game can be a great family gift rather than buying individual presents for each person. 

4. Buy second hand

Buying someone a second hand present used to be a bit of a no-no, but not anymore! Shopping second hand is more sustainable and frugal, and you can find some treasures.

If you want to shop for secondhand items online, Carousell is a good option.

5. avoid ‘Buy now, pay later’

Tempting as these schemes are, try to avoid them unless you have a plan in place for repaying the loan within the interest free period. Otherwise, after the 0% phase ends, you’ll be charged an aggressive interest rate and that new sofa, outfit or TV could end up costing you far more. And it could have a negative impact on your credit score if you default on payments.

RELATED: IS BUY NOW PAY LATER (BNPL) THE NEW-FOUND MAGIC OF FINANCE?

6. Be smart about delivery

Paying supermarket delivery fees can really add up. A delivery pass, where you pay an up front fee for deliveries from your favourite supermarket, may work out cheaper. 

Here are some grocery delivery providers

7. Before borrowing, look at where you can cut costs

If making ends meet over Christmas looks like it will still be a struggle, be honest with close friends and family; most will be happy to just spend time with you. 

How about giving your gifts after Christmas to take advantage of discounts? As soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 26th, sales start in most stores. There is nothing worse than finding out that the gifts you purchased before Christmas is now on sale. Give a nicely wrapped IOU and wait until January sales kick in, if you can.

If you do need to use a credit card, make sure it’s one that offers 0% interest on purchases and that you pay off the balance as soon as possible.

8. Add discounts automatically 

Use the VoucherCodes ‘DealFinder’ plug-in on Chrome to be instantly alerted to deals when shopping online. Once installed, DealFinder will automatically find you the best promotion available for the site you’re on.

9. Don’t lose your head over sales

The golden rule of sales is: it’s only a bargain if you were going to buy it anyway! In the deluge of deals around the holiday season, try to resist impulse buying. 

10. Find the cheapest way to send a parcel

If you’re posting presents this year, do your research to find the most cost-effective option. There is also an option to hand deliver the presents on your own and you can make a trip out of it to give a festive hug!

11. join the retailer’s club

Signing up to a retailer’s newsletter can bag you an immediate discount, such as 10% off your next purchase. You’ll also be the first to hear about Christmas discount events.

12. Use Incognito Mode

When you’re shopping online, the cookies saved on your computer mean that retailers know what items you’ve viewed and can push their prices up. Using Incognito Mode prevents them from being able to do this — plus, it stops the items you’ve viewed from coming up as ads and ruining the surprise if your family views your laptop.

13. Deploy trolley tactics 

Load up your online trolley but don’t check out immediately. If stores spot items sitting in your basket, they’ll ask if you forgot to check out and may send you a discount code to persuade you to buy the goods. You’ll need to have entered your email address, so that they can get in touch.

So are you all geared up for Christmas shopping? If you’re looking for gifts to give to kids, this video might be the proof you need that kids are happy getting whatever they get for Christmas.

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