Unfortunately many of us turn to credit cards to help us cope. The average Australian credit card debt after Christmas is $1,666. Of this, 82 per cent of people take up to six months to pay it back, and the remaining 18 per cent take even longer.
Blowing a bunch of money on credit cards is only going to cause more pain in the long term. If you are not able to pay off the debts incurred during the festive season quickly, chances are you will still have a credit card “hangover” when next Christmas rolls around.
Getting into debt can affect many other areas of peoples’ lives, not least of which include problems with mental health such as depression and anxiety; create stress and ultimately the breakdown of relationships.
Here are some tips on how to spend less at Christmas.
Have a shopping list
If you don’t have a list, it is easy to waste money on items you don’t need. When you find something you want, compare prices and make sure you are getting the best deal. Make sure your head rules your heart and stick to buying what you can afford.
Plan what food you will be buying and cooking well ahead, so you don’t waste food or money. Work out what events you need food for and estimate a budget. Ask family and friends to bring a dish or drinks if you can.
Re-use decorations from previous years and consider making your own. Put some real thought into gift-giving; people will appreciate something less expensive they will really use or want as opposed to something expensive that they won’t.
Track your spending
Use a free app such as iXpenseIt or make a chart with spending categories, vendors, dates and amounts if you prefer the hard-copy method. Seeing where your money is going can be a very powerful tool to help you curb your spending.
How to get help
The Australian Government site, Money Smart, www.moneysmart.gov.au has some good tips on how to reduce debt and manage your money better. And there are free to attend support groups such as Debtors Anonymous Australia who hold regular Zoom and face-to-face meetings if you need ongoing help to manage problem spending and credit card debt.
Financial counselling is available for free from charities such as Anglicare and Wesley Mission. And you can call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or www.ndh.org.au
If your spending and debting is causing serious depression, anxiety or other mental health issues, don’t hesitate to call Lifeline: 13 11 14, or Emergency on 000 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.
DISCLAIMER: This wellbeing message is brought to you by the health and wellbeing team at rt health – a division of the Hospitals Contribution Fund. The health information provided here is intended to be informative only and should be carefully evaluated for its source, accuracy, completeness and relevance for your purposes. It is not a replacement for professional medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional. Always obtain appropriate professional advice relevant to your particular circumstances.