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Avoid a January debt hangover with a Christmas Calculator

Roisin Broderick, Content Specialist, Keystart

23 Jul 2019 • 4 min
woman with child on chair outside

How did you go last Christmas? How do you want to feel in January 2023?

Think back to your last Christmas, or perhaps more accurately, think back to January and February this year. How were you feeling financially? Did your credit card get more of a work out than you would have liked? Overspending at Christmas can be a huge source of stress that continues well into the New Year. 

Now consider how you would prefer to be feeling in January 2023. Less tense? Able to enjoy the summer more? Earlier planning for the Christmas season might bring you the unexpected gift of peace of mind.

Christmas has a habit of sneaking up on us and inevitably causes some budget blow out, adding stress at what should be an enjoyable time of the year. 

Bring on Keystart's Christmas Calculator!

4 steps to keep Christmas on track

Step 1: Make a list, check it twice

Start with a list of what you spent over Christmas last year. Consider the broader view, think about extra events and outings that happen around December and early January. Do you normally go away? Do you celebrate New Year’s Eve? Make a list of who you normally buy gifts for, and add an indicative cost for those gifts.

What will you be doing Christmas Day this year? How about Boxing Day? What extra groceries, decorations and special items do you usually buy over Christmas?

Now... pause. Think about how you felt in January of this year. Want to be more relaxed next year? Go back over your lists and think about what can be taken off the list, or reduced. Maybe this is the year to suggest kids-only gifts, or setting a dollar limit of gifts. Can you celebrate New Year’s at home this year?

We've created a basic calculator to get you started.

Download your Christmas Calculator template (pdf file)

Step 2: Break it down

Now reality sets in. Enter the amounts you expect to spend and then enter the date you will start saving. The Christmas Calculator will then show you the weekly amount you will need to set aside to meet your Christmas budget. It may seem daunting but consider how much better you will feel spending money you have set aside, rather than maxing out your credit card.

Step 3: Get to work

Do you save better with money set aside, out of reach? Consider opening a Christmas savings account. Set up a regular deduction from your bank account so you don’t have the option of skipping a payment. If the Christmas Calculator amount seems like too much of a stretch, go back to your list and review it again. Bear in mind Christmas is about spending time with friends and family, not spending beyond your means. Are there any options for gifts that you can make yourself? Or perhaps gifts of your time, eg, create a voucher for babysitting, or gardening.

Another option is to increase your cashflow. Do you have any items that you have been meaning to get rid of? Selling items online can take time, but if you get organised now you won’t be in a rush to sell. Be sure to put any extra funds straight into your Christmas budget.

Step 4: Keep track

Track how you are going each month. You have time to start on your Christmas Calculator. 

Roll on December

Make this the year that you actually sit back and relax over Christmas and avoid the debt hangover in January. December and January bring their own bills, including utilities, rates and your Keystart home loan repayments. By saving extra now you will have enough to enjoy the festive season and cover your usual expenses.

With some careful planning and maybe some reality check on your spending, your Christmas Calculator will get you through.

Keystart recommends that you seek your own independent financial advice prior to making any decisions about your financial needs. Any examples given in this post are provided for illustrative purposes only.

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