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How to make Xmas 2011 easier financially

Dec 21, 2010

Was Santa Claus as generous in your household this week as in previous years?

I would not be surprised if he wasn't as quite a few of our readers have written in to say how hard it was to make ends meet this past month.  Rising interest rates, spiralling electricity costs and an overall general increase in the cost of living all contributed to a sizeable chunk coming out of most family budgets.

Don't let money problems be the Grinch who stole Christmas.

To avoid a repeat in 2011 here are a few ideas to consider.  Implementing some of them won't be easy.  But the more disciplined you are now, then the easier it will be for you next December:

Spread those purchases

It's all too easy to overspend when Christmas shopping is left until the last minute. People get into a panic as they know they have to buy something and will often spend more than they can afford. Why not try to spread the cost here by buying some presents in the months leading up to the Christmas? A few stocking fillers or small gifts each month makes a difference.  Also consider using lay-by, the great old-fashioned way to save up for a present. 

Open a Christmas Club account

Christmas Club accounts are a great way to save for the festive season.  The earlier that you can start one and put a regular amount in the better it will be for you next December.  Most of these accounts can be started with a minimum balance and don't incur any fees.  You don't have easy access to funds with withdrawals limited to December and January only so they force you to save.  But they pay terrible interest.  You are not going to get much Christmas joy on 1% interest.  Instead consider opening up a high-interest online savings account.  You need to be more disciplined but at least your money is working harder.

Look out for bargains

Keep your eyes open now for some amazing bargains.  Usually the cheapest prices are during the post-xmas and end of financial year sales.  But make sure that discounts are genuine and that quality is not diminished. 

Save those $5 notes

One of the most unique ways to save for Christmas that I have ever seen was by a good mate of mine.  Over the course of the past year, he kept every $5 note that he received in change and put it in a jar of savings.  It may sound bizarre but it worked as he saved well over $1,000! 

Take advantage of our strong dollar

As mentioned a few weeks ago, the Australian dollar is at its strongest right now against most of the world's currencies.  So why not shop online and take advantage of that buying power.  After all, there is no guarantee that this strength is going to last for long so don't be surprised if prices for overseas goods are as much as 20% more in twelve months' time. 

Tags: FamilyFinancial Planning

Author: Mr Taxman

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