Easy ways to get your budget back on track after the Christmas splurge

Now the silly season is over, it's time to refocus on your finances.

Among all the gift-buying, good food and festive times, it can become easy to throw caution to the wind and forget about your usual budget. 

However, now it's the new year and it's time to start getting serious about money again.

"In 2018, Australians spent around $1325 each on the festive season. One in four of us relied on credit cards to get through," financial advisor Helen Baker tells. 

So, if you're looking at your bank account wondering how to get back to pre-Christmas finances, Helen shares her tips and how you can save money next year. 

Festive hangover cure

If you've gone a bit crazy on the credit card, Helen suggests paying off bad debt as soon as you can.

"Paying interest on interest for credit cards is a waste of money. So is paying for memberships you don’t use, whether it’s a gym or a website you subscribe to and don’t visit," she adds. 

Helen also says it's wise to organise some cash-flow management to get back on track. "I use sub-accounts to allocate money every pay into ‘pots’ for bills, mortgage, credit card, holidays, Christmas, pocket money, and savings. I also allocate a portion of money for my ‘emergency fund’," she tells. "Cash management and an emergency fund 'are two of five financial foundations we all need to keep ourselves financially on our own two feet."

Be like Santa

Now that you've implemented the above tips, Helen shares how you can avoid the financial hangover for next Christmas. Jelen suggests taking a page from Santa's list - and checking it twice!

"Make a list of everyone you intend to gift and set an amount per person. Total it. Is it an amount you can afford? If not, think twice. It’s not just the presents that add up," she says.

Minimise ‘stuff’(ing)

A few years ago, online marketplace Gumtree commissioned research on Christmas gift-giving and found that 71 per cent of Australians received unwanted presents.

If your unwanted gifts are gathering dust on a hard-to-get-at shelf or cluttering a spare room, Helen suggests gathering everything and selling them online or donate them to charity.

If you still want to give something, Helen suggests gifting an experience. "While these can be bought, you can create them too, gifting your time and presence. One friend maintains her best gift ever was the stand-up paddle boarding lesson her son gave her. Or donate on behalf of your gift recipient to a cause that’s close to their heart."

Make the most of sales

If you are buying gifts, don't forget about all the great sales before Christmas. Black Friday and Cyber Monday offer huge discounts on a whole range of goods and Helen says Christmas food treats often start about two weeks before the big day. 

Note this is general advice only and you should seek advice specific to your circumstances.

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