CHRISTMAS is less than four weeks away and it can leave a deep hole in your pocket if you’ve failed to plan for it.
But if there’s no Christmas Club account to tap into and no presents already tucked away in the cupboard there’s still time to ensure you have a fiscally-friendly festive season.
1. Make a list
Work out who you are going to buy presents for and don’t go overboard.
Buying for long lost cousins and those friends you never see are the first places to start the cutting-back process.
Secret Santas are also a good idea — suggest them with your family and friends so that you only have to buy one present instead of loads of individual gifts.
Work out a realistic budget you can stick to and then shop around to find the best deal on the items you plan to buy.
Comparethemarket.com.au’s Abigail Koch says you have to be regimented with your shopping list and do plenty of research to find the best price.
“Absolutely stick to your budget, make sure you shop around; it’s worth comparing before committing,’’ she says.
“Don’t just go to a shopping mall where everything is in one place because that’s when you end up overspending.’’
3. Credit card
If you do have to use your credit card to buy gifts this year you must be disciplined in paying off the debt because interest rates on plastic can be more than 20 per cent.
Financial expert David Koch says it pays to maximise your interest-free days on your card so you have more time to pay back the debt.
“If you are using your credit card our number one recommendation is to try and pay it off in full each month so you avoid any exorbitant interest rates,’’ she says.
“Think about when your salary is going to come into your account after Christmas too and make sure your credit card repayment goes out after your salary comes in.”
4. Christmas Club accounts
MLC financial adviser Neil Dyson says if you aren’t lucky enough to have organised a Christmas Club account for this year, sign up to one now.
“If you don’t have a Christmas Club account now you should open one for 2016,’’ he says.
These accounts usually pay little or no interest and they penalise you if you try to dip into them earlier in the year, but they are a great place to lock away money each week.
Set up a direct debit from your wage so money automatically goes in there each time you’re paid.