How to stick to your budget around silly season

by Verve

Keeping a handle on your budget around silly season can be done. Providing you do a little prep work.

The festive season always seems to catch us off guard. One minute we’re remembering how to interact with other humans after lockdown, and then bam, it’s December – the most silly and social time of the year.

Here are a few ways to stop the festive season from wreaking havoc with your back pocket.

Make a detailed list 

First thing’s first – get everything onto a list. We’re talking small spends, big spends, and the spends you don’t even think of as ‘spends’. Here are a few things we’d include as standard:

  • Decorations (whether you’re buying a new tree or gluing the old ornaments back together)
  • Food (this is also a good moment to consider if you’re buying more food than you need…)
  • Gifts (list everyone you’re buying presents for and get about setting a spending limit)
  • Socialising (plan for every social interaction, from the Christmas coffee catch-ups through to a New Year’s night out) 
  • Hotels or transport (if you’re planning on going away with family or friends, factor in everything from flights to the Uber ride home)
  • Clothes (those festive pjs don’t buy themselves…)

Pay cash, not credit! 

This is the big one. It’s oh-so-tempting to stick pressies on a credit card or rely on buy now, pay later options to get the gifts our budget wouldn’t otherwise stretch to. In reality, it means the cost of December stretches well into the new year. In fact, approximately 20% of people pay using credit that will take over 6 months to pay off. If you’ve popped expensive gifts on a credit card, any added interest will inevitably make them even more expensive. When you catch yourself thinking ‘my special person would LOVE this gift’, consider counteracting it with ‘but would they want me to be in debt because of it…?’ 

Create a separate festive fund in your everyday bank account

Once you’ve got your list in order, and you’ve assigned your spending limits, get your cash into a separate festive fund. If you’re organised, you might be planning to make regular contributions throughout the year so that you have allocated money to spend come silly season. Even if you don’t plan on spending more than an average month (which can be done!), it helps to spend out of a specific account so you can track exactly where it’s all going.

Pro tip! Have you heard of the 52-week saving challenge? From the first week of the year you’ll make a contribution to your festive fund — starting at $1 in week one, then $2 in week two, and $3 in week three. By the end of the year you’ll have $1378 in savings – a perfect silly season slush fund (and then some!). 

Get crafty with gifts

If you’re not in the mood to DIY a gift from scratch, there are other budget-friendly ways to add a personal touch to presents. A few creative ideas to get you started: get one of their favourite photos printed and framed, a personalised mug, plan a trip they’ll love, bake them something truly one-of-a-kind, or, maybe you could even re-record your very own version of their favourite festive tune. 

Reusable present wrapping 

Magazines, silk scarves, and fabric scraps are a few ways to repurpose existing materials for gift wrapping. We’ll bet you have a few pre-gifted gift bags lying around the place, too – you’ll just need to find that ‘safe place’ you left them in. If you’re committed to new wrapping paper, try to seek out eco-friendly options that can be composted or fully recycled. 

Shop sustainable, secondhand & from women-owned businesses

Consider where your dollars are going! If you are spending on presents or social events, you could think about it as another opportunity to support women-owned businesses. The same goes for sustainable brands and op-shops – the companies that have been committed to doing good all year round. 

Go halves on a good gift 

This might just be our favourite, most underrated way to get the most out of your hard-earned cash at this time of year. Consider splitting the cost of something you know a family member or friend really wants or needs. It might mean you can gift something extra fancy and spend a little less than you would on an individual present. 

However you spend your money and time this silly season, remember that giving the gift of time – your time- is valuable and should be treated as such. You’ve worked hard to financially juggle the year that’s gone, so take the time to appreciate all those money moves (highs, lows, and in-betweens).

This blog is published by Verve Superannuation Pty Ltd (ABN 65 628 675 169, AFS Representative No. 001268903), which is a Corporate Authorised Representative of True Oak Investments Ltd (ABN 81 002 558 956, AFSL 238184), as the Sub-Promoter of Verve Super. 

Verve Superannuation Pty Ltd and True Oak Investments Ltd are not licensed to provide personal financial advice. The information contained in this blog, including any financial guidance, is general in nature. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to ensure that your financial decisions are suited to your unique circumstances.

You should read the Product Disclosure StatementAdditional Information BookletInsurance GuideTarget Market Determination and Financial Services Guide before making a decision to acquire, hold or continue to hold an interest in Verve Super. When considering financial returns, past performance is not indicative of future performance.

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