How to enjoy the summer holidays on a budget

By Olivia Gee ·

December heralds parties, presents and good cheer. But anyone who plays Christmas host or commits to innumerable secret santas knows all this festive fun adds up.

In 2019, Suncorp found the average Aussie’s celebration budget was $1,013. While shoppers and partiers are expected to rein in Christmas spending this year, even half of last year’s figure could cut into a holiday budget significantly.

So, if you are trying to factor in a bit of fun during the silliest of seasons, you might have to get creative with how you approach spending beyond the big public holidays. 

To help you get into holiday mode without draining your savings account, we’ve come up with a few tactics to help you pursue wallet-friendly adventures.

Request experiences for Christmas this year

We know ripping gaudy gift wrapping off presents makes for a joyful Christmas morn, but you may not need another pair of socks or a third pack of Cadbury Favourites. Conversely, demanding cash can feel a little grinchy.

Instead, ask your nearest and dearest to pick out fun activities you could do together over the summer and throw a giftcard your way. Collect vouchers to spas, surf schools, cinemas, theme parks and restaurants, and you’ve suddenly got great summer adventures up your sleeve. 

Just make sure they’re experiences-for-two or that you have a buddy willing to fork out the cash to join you. Heading to Wet’n’Wild solo just doesn’t feel right.

Invest in fun, don’t rent it

Yes, buying a kayak or snorkel and flipper set may cost more off the bat than renting them for the day. But if you’re looking at your budget long term it’ll work out cheaper (assuming you regularly have a paddle or snork).

A quick search across sites like eBay, Gumtree or Facebook Marketplace can help you find pre-loved adventure items to bring the price down even further.

Experiment with summer deals

Instead of following the crowds to Westfield for Boxing Day sales, peruse the internet for free or cheap trials. There are a heap of online food and wine delivery services, fitness classes and entertainment subscriptions vying for your holiday attention. 

So, take advantage of their generous first-month offers and trials. Just remember to call it quits before any cut-off payment dates if it’s not your cup of tea.

Follow the free road to adventure

It’s an oldie but a goodie: choose the free option. As long as you’re armed with sunscreen and drinking water, summer is the ideal time for beach days, bush walks and bike rides. 

Back it up with cool-down movie arvos at home and watermelon dinners and you’ll barely spend a cent. If you’re a city dweller or live in a popular tourist spot, coastal paths and secluded spots will likely be packed, so you may need to factor in travel costs to avoid a mass of sweaty holidaymakers.

Find the best way to save

Make extra holiday spending money by ensuring you’re getting a top rate on your savings. Interest rates aren’t particularly hot right now, but there are still things you can do to be a proactive saver and earn as much interest as possible.

Start by comparing some of the high interest savings accounts below.

High interest savings accounts - last updated November 28, 2020

Search promoted savings accounts below or do a full Mozo database search. Advertiser disclosure.

  • mozo-experts-choice-2020

    1.50% p.a. (for $0 to $250,000)

    0.15% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Bonus rate when at least $20 is deposited each month and five Visa Debit transactions are made each month using linked Everyday or Glide transaction accounts.

  • 0.90% p.a. (for $0 to $250,001)

    0.01% p.a.(for $0 to $5,000,000)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Minimum deposit of $200 and no withdrawals in the month.

  • 1.10% p.a. (for $0 to $1,000,000)

    0% p.a.(for $0 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Make 5 or more successful card purchases per calendar month using your Up debit card and digital wallets (ATM transactions excluded).

  • mozo-experts-choice-2020

    1.05% p.a. (for $1 to $250,000)

    0.05% p.a.(for $1 and over)

    Yes up to $250,000

    Ongoing bonus rate applied if in the previous month $1,000 or more is credited to the linked Day2Day Plus account and 5 eligible transactions are made by the linked account.


^See information about the Mozo Experts Choice Savings Accounts Awards

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Olivia Gee
Money writer

As one of Mozo’s money writers, Olivia Gee shares her research and insights across banking, insurance and property to help readers save. She loves getting stuck into a story, unveiling all the facts, breaking down stats and drawing on personal experiences - this is what drives her as a journalist. She has a double degree from the University of Wollongong, with a BA in Journalism as well as Media and Communications.