Make sure your Christmas card doesn’t come with bill shock
“Christmas is coming and the credit card’s about to get a whack. Please put another dollar in the big bank’s hat.”
This take on the traditional Christmas nursery rhyme is a lot closer to reality than many of us would like to admit. Because it is, by and large, true for most Australians.
The most up-to-date figures indicate that on average each person will this Christmas spend over $1,000 celebrating the festivities, so if you add that all up for a family of four that’s no mean sum.
And we all know that once we get carried away, especially on Christmas Eve and the start of the Boxing Day sales, that figure could well blow out. The splurge factor is very real so the sensible thing is to count that in as an extra bit on top which means for some people that a $5,000+ bill is quite possible.
That amount doesn’t include the price of a summer holiday – which we tend to forget when counting the cost of Christmas and New Year – so that $5,000 could easily turn out to be $10,000 or more depending on where you go and for how long.
Little wonder then that we almost subconsciously reach for the credit card to cover that immediate spending. But, of course, what that means is that the bills are mounting up without a real budget in mind, leading to shock at the end of January – just as the schools are going back and all the cost that comes with that.
Research carried out by SocietyOne reveals that Australians estimate that they spend more than half (52%) of their Christmas shopping on credit cards and don’t pay them off for at least three months afterwards.
Result? Hundreds, if not thousands, of extra dollars wasted in interest payments depending on how much money you rack up on your card or cards and when you eventually are able to repay the whole amount.
In fact there’s around $32 billion of revolving credit card debt in Australia (debt that just sits there, racking up more and more interest), that’s $4,200 for every person who has a credit card!
So, what should you do about it to avoid the financial nightmare before - and after – Christmas?
First off, you should “spring clean” your household budget. As the saying goes, you shouldn’t have more going out than what is coming in. But if you do, be clear about what you can afford and how you will pay for it.
Once you know where your money is going, it is easier to plan to save that extra money.
Secondly, make a plan! Set a realistic budget to cover not just the average spend of Christmas but the splurge factor and how much you will enjoy by going on holiday.
That, in effect, becomes your limit and you can then work out ways of covering that spending, whether it’s a bit from savings, some from a buy-now-pay-later approach (like a credit card) and some from money you know will be coming in down the track.
Thirdly, do your research. You don’t have to pay full price for presents, those special treats for the table or that luxury holiday. Recent data from our research showed that if you plan ahead, Christmas buyers can expect to save, on average, 23% by shopping online.
Next, according to our analysis, 80% of shoppers found it cheaper to buy online in advance rather than leaving it to the last minute to get their presents from a bricks and mortar store. And that 23% saving translates into $100 of hard cash given that the average spend on Christmas presents is $450 per person.
So, have a look at the best option that suits you this festive period – one that helps you have a truly Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
A good way to budget and work out your limit is to take out a personal loan for a certain sum. So, if your budget is $10,000 to cover presents, the big day and a nice holiday then a loan repayable over two or three years could be the way to go.
That money becomes your total amount to spend and you can either use it to consolidate credit card debt before or after and, depending on your credit history and individually tailored rate through us, help you avoid higher interest rate payments in the future too.
Our interest rates are fixed so you know exactly how much you will need to repay each and every month or fortnight while you also have the comfort in knowing that you will pay off the whole amount over the particular time period or loan term you have chosen. You even have the option of paying off the loan early without any penalties!