End-of-year celebrations are nearly upon us. And if you want to avoid the financial headache that can kick in after all the partying is over, now’s the time for a little forward planning. Finance experts Paul Clitheroe, founding director of ipac securities, and Alan Kohler, publisher of the Eureka Report independent investment newsletter, share their advice on how to keep the silly season affordable – while maxing out on the true spirit of Christmas.
Plan to Spend.
"In our family, we make a list of all the people we would like to buy presents for and assign an amount to each, add it up, and ensure we stick to it," says Kohler. Clitheroe agrees, adding, "The gifts don’t have to be a new iPod. It’s about the process of giving and spending time with friends and family."
Give from the Heart.
"I also think the true spirit of Christmas is to be generous, but not silly," says Clitheroe, "and to give gifts that have meaning rather than pure dollar value. I love thinking, What would this person truly appreciate? and then finding that special item that shows you really know them."
Says Alan Kohler, "My sister moved into her first house recently, so I bought her a cordless drill. No-one had ever thought of giving her a drill. She loved it."
Be a Card Sharp.
"If you have difficulty controlling your credit card, swap it for a debit card," suggests Kohler. "You use it like Visa or Mastercard but you can only spend your own money. When it gets to zero, that’s it – it gets rejected. "If you do need a bit of credit, reduce the limit. I gave my daughter a credit card with a $500 limit. It can never blow out, and she’s got it if she needs something for university, for example."