The season of silly spending is upon us. It never ceases to amaze me at how we (and sometimes I) start throwing money away come December 1.
According to the MasterCard Christmas Spend Survey Kiwis spend $930 each on celebrating Christmas. Here's my list of what leads to the worst Christmas excesses:
Giving too much:
It was my birthday the day before I wrote this blog, and I was absolutely chuffed with a small box of three chocolates I received. An expensive gift, on the other hand, would have positively embarrassed me. We give too much for two main reasons. One is that we fail to keep track of what we've bought – or perhaps fall for "bargains". The other is spending to impress.
Spending to impress:
We all feel awkward when it comes to how much to spend. The reality is most people you want to be friends with don't care how much you spend on them. Be up front about setting spending limits with friends and family.
Buying bad gifts:
Joke presents are a waste of money and the world's resources. Just don't do it. Likewise, ask the person what they want – so that your money is well spent. And while you're at it, take a look around your house for unwanted presents from years gone by that you could re-gift to someone more appropriate.
Failing to shop around:
It's just laziness not to shop around for Christmas gifts – especially expensive items. Prices vary enormously . With a telephone and the Internet it doesn't even require petrol. And if you really want to buy from one retailer and not another – ask them to match the price.
Buying on credit:
Do this and the ghost of Christmas past will catch up with you during the year.
Giving in to guilt:
No-one should be pressured to buy more than they can afford or want to at Christmas. The best medicine for this is talking. Speak to friends and family about Christmas gifting. Concentrate on enjoying the festivities instead.
Not keeping the receipt:
I often give the receipt to friends and family – or at least make it clear that I'm happy for them to exchange the item for something of their choice. Other reasons for keeping the receipt include that they may receive two of the same items, or something may break.
Falling for bargains:
They're not bargains if you don't need to buy them.
I know that doing a written budget is less exciting than attending Christmas parties. But at least try to write a pared down list and set limits for what you spend on each present. Do the same for the food to avoid it going to waste. Keep a little notebook with you and tot up what you spend on Christmas. I'm doing this myself this year.
Do you have any tips on how to save money this Christmas?