When you’re on holiday, it can be easy to let spending get out of hand – eating out, gifts for friends and family and experiences that wouldn’t normally be in your budget all take their toll on your bank account. With Christmas approaching in a few months’ time, now is the perfect time to set yourself up with some good financial habits that will let you maintain control over your spending.
1. Keep gifts to a minimum
It’s very easy to go overboard with gifts when you’re on holidays, and most of us usually spend more than we plan to on little presents for those we love.
The key here is to make a budget and firmly stick to it. Before you get on the plane, take a moment to write down a list of who you’ll be buying a gift for. Set aside a block of money and divide it up accordingly based on who’s on your gift list. Remember to have some discipline and only spend that amount on each gift. End of story.
If there’s a larger more expensive item that must be bought, where possible chip in with others to keep it affordable for everyone.
Additionally, don’t waste money on wrapping paper. A lot of places offer free wrapping, otherwise keep it simple and frugal by reusing the cartoon section of the newspaper or brown paper with a ribbon. It only gets thrown out anyway.
2. Plan ahead
The biggest hit to the savings are usually unplanned meals, so plan ahead. If you’ll be eating out every night, again make a budget and stick to it. There are some fantastic restaurants which offer great food at a fraction of the price of the expensive eateries. And if possible, try and make a couple of meals yourself by using cheap supermarket ingredients.
3. Keep it close to home
Holiday trips don’t have to stretch the budget. Where possible, try and stick closer to home on your trips and save on airfares. If you can get time on work, consider taking a holiday in off-peak seasons to save costs on hotels and other travel expenses.
4. Use reward programs
Many credit cards and insurance funds have member benefits – are you making use of yours? Take some time to flick through the membership benefits online to see where you can save this season, and incorporate them into your holiday.
Whatever you do, try not to let fees add up over the holidays. Pay with debit cards and cash where you can and always plan ahead to withdraw from your own bank ATMs. It’s simple stuff that can make a big difference.