Top tips for getting your Christmas budget in order – straight from a professional!
This year has been tough for many and with so much uncertainty ahead, we’re all trying to tighten our budget and reduce unnecessary expenses. That doesn’t mean you can’t still have a Christmas to remember though. Ahead, I’m sharing five Christmas budget hacks to help you make the most of the festive season – without spiralling into debt.
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Although the lack of storage space in Hong Kong might put you off stocking up on gifts early, it goes without saying that getting it all sorted in a timely manner will save you money. Not only does buying early give you the freedom to search out the best prices (and take advantage of seasonal sales like Singles’ Day and Black Friday), but it also affords you time to make considered and sensible purchases. Last-minute panic buying has a tendency to make budgets go out the window as you desperately focus on getting everything done on time!
The other thing that I find very useful is saving unwanted gifts throughout the year and using them for Secret Santa and office presents in the festive season. It may seem like a cheap thing to do, but I would rather it brought joy to someone else than it sit in a landfill. Plus, if you’re looking to buy presents for overseas friends, I find it helpful to bulk buy something fairly typically “Hong Kong” from somewhere like Temple Street Market or Mong Kok.
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Most credit cards, bank accounts and shops offer loyalty points and bonuses. As long as they don’t expire, I tend to save these up until the end of the year. The supermarket ones are especially welcome when buying wine and spirits as gifts!
Very few of us will be flying out over the holidays this year, but if you’ve found a way to and are willing to self-isolate for a couple of weeks, make sure to book your plane tickets as early as possible. I recommend searching comparison websites and setting up offer alerts from various airlines to keep on track of all the best deals.
Suddenly needing to have a lot of cash all at once can feel very overwhelming. However, by saving a little bit each month in a separate account, you will find yourself with a healthy spending budget for the festive season, which is much more preferable than relying on credit cards or loans! My clients and I always find that moving money into a separate account right when you get paid is the easiest way of making sure that you prioritise your commitments and don’t end up over spending each month.
If saving a couple of hundred dollars a month seems like too much, then maybe you need to analyse your expenses and your expectations for Christmas. If you can get to January and feel like you are starting the New Year financially in control, it will make for a much more positive start to 2021.
Keep an eye out for any Christmas fairs or markets that will be popping up around town from now until the big day. These can be a great place to pick up one-of-a-kind presents and crafts at affordable prices. Plus it’s always good to shop local!
Just make sure you are buying things for the right reasons. Is it a good present or are you being swept up in the “fair vibe” and buying with no one in mind? Make a list of who you need to buy for and try to stick to it, no matter how much mulled wine you consume!
Experiences Not Gifts
Years ago, my best friend and I gave up on buying Christmas presents for each other for the sake of it. Instead, we take the money that we might have spent and go for a lovely meal somewhere we wouldn’t usually treat ourselves.
We all own a lot of stuff we don’t use these days, and the frequency we have to clear out our apartments stands testament to this. Rather than buying more stuff for your friends and family, why not look at an experience that they would enjoy?
Something me and my friends do each year is walk through Central looking at the Christmas decorations in the various buildings before going to the roof of ifc mall to look at the lights in TST. Walking around, enjoying the decorations and taking photos costs nothing, and for us has become a wonderful Christmas tradition that we appreciate a lot more than gifts!