No matter where you look at this time of year, you’ll see images of beautiful Christmas spreads, perfectly decorated homes and calm smiling families. But what you don’t see is the Christmas rush. The balancing act that goes on behind the scenes; hitting those work deadlines that must be met by Christmas, ferrying your kids to end of year concerts, ballet concerts, any concerts, organising your Christmas cooking, worrying about your in-laws, shopping for presents and getting hit by those endless bills. All that before you go on holiday.
We call these boring, sometimes stressful, but always necessary tasks Christmas admin. Whether you want to get on top of your holiday expenses or reduce the stress that comes with this time of year, we explore how to survive and thrive this holiday season.
One of the biggest sources of stress during the Christmas rush can be time spent shopping for gifts as well as the costs that come along with it. From receiving bill after bill to getting stuck in nightmarish traffic or finding out the game you were going to get for the kids is sold out – Christmas shopping can add a lot of stress to an already busy period.
And if you’re feeling that costs are getting higher year after year, you’re not the only one. According to new research commissioned by iSelect, Australians say their monthly bills have increased by an average of 39% in the last two years, compared with just a 21% increase in household income*.
One way to manage these growing expenses and ensure you’re not hit by unexpected costs, is to write up a list of everyone you’ll be giving a Christmas present to. The next step is to assign each person with a dollar value representing how much you want to spend on their gift, as well as creating a total gift budget. If you go over budget for someone’s gift, you’ll have to take out money from someone else’s. It might take a lot of discipline but it’s a foolproof way to ensure there are no surprises when it comes to the bank balance.
Another easy solution is to organise a Secret Santa or a name draw with a clearly defined budget. This solves the problem of having to buy everyone a gift, while ensuring no one leaves empty handed.
If you’re not able to avoid the sometimes costly rituals of gift giving, just remember that research suggests over 42% of Australians said they felt overwhelmed by their household expenses and bills*. And especially relevant during the Christmas period.
Christmas is supposed to be a time of family, love and rest but for many of us, it can be one of the most stressful periods of the year – especially as we try and get on top of our Christmas admin. The pressures of finding the perfect gift, organising a successful Christmas event or decorating your home while keeping within budget can quickly become overwhelming.
Once you realise that everyone is in the same boat during the Christmas rush, you can let go of the pressure you place on yourself to have it all together.
Why does everybody want to catch up before Christmas? While many of us expect the holidays to be a time for relaxation and unwinding – a jam packed social calendar can make it a source of anxiety, or even dread. And then there’s work, with 41% of Australians feeling like they’re on call at work during the holidays.
A good way to avoid too many commitments is to ask yourself whether you’d attend if the event was tomorrow. If the answer is no, then you could politely decline. It can be easy for events to pile up when they are in the distant future.
When it comes to the inevitable Christmas chores, it’s important to delegate or ask for help. Trying to juggle all of the Christmas cooking, decorating, shopping and socialising yourself is a recipe for disaster. Write up all your tasks in a to-do list and split up the responsibilities with the household. This way when it comes to checking things off your list, you’ll know it’s not all up to you to ensure a successful Christmas break.
If you feel overwhelmed by the costs that add up during the Christmas rush, you’re not alone.
One in five Australians said they had sacrificed Christmas gifts in order to pay their monthly bills while 38% of Australians felt like they were losing control of their finances with growing expenses and household bills*.
These concerns could not be truer during the Christmas rush when bills and expenses stack up faster than ever. From blasting the air-conditioning to keep cool in the summer to running your Christmas lights twenty-four hours a day, the expenses that add up around the month of December can be some of the steepest of the year.
Whether or not you can get out of doing the Christmas shopping or let go of the inevitable stress and pressures that come with Christmas – there is a simple trick that may help you save money during the festive season.
Reviewing and switching your bill providers with iSelect can be of the easiest ways to help manage and prevent bill shock. Our research suggests that, on average, those who switched household bill providers in the last year saved themselves $626.*
*Sources:  In September 2017, iSelect commissioned a nationally representative consumer research study with Kantar TNS to assess the attitudes of 2,000 Australians who are decision makers for their service providers towards their household bills and expenses.
iSelect does not compare all products in the market. Not all products are available at all times. The information in this article is intended for general information only. We recommend that you obtain advice from an independent taxation advisor regarding your own individual situation.