Should Aussies be more laid back about giving less and saving more over Christmas?

Tom Watson

17 Dec 2018

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With just eight days until Christmas the rush is officially on as Aussies around the country sprint to the shops or frantically hit ‘priority delivery’ on their online orders to make sure their presents arrive before December 25. 

After all Christmas is the season of giving, and according to ME, Australians really are a generous bunch, spending an average of $240 on 11 gifts over the festive season. 

We’re even shelling out an estimated $145 million on presents for our furry friends, according to Real Insurance.

But for many Australians, the Christmas period would be a time in which they gave less and saved more if they had their way. 

That’s just one of the takeaways from a recent survey of 1,000 gift givers conducted by ME, which revealed that 48% of Aussies would rather be giving less at Christmas time. 

RELATED: Bank of Queensland reward young savers with new 4.00% savings account rate 

Rather than being grinches though, the survey revealed some legitimate reasons behind the desire to cut back on Christmas spending, with 41% of respondents saying that the amount they spent on gifts caused them ‘financial worry’. 

Furthermore, 44% stated that they would like to cut back on presents in order to focus on other financial pressures such as paying bills.    

According to ME Money Expert, Matthew Read, while a sense of obligation may be stopping many Australians from cutting back gift giving entirely there are alternatives to make the season easier on household budgets. 

“Christmas is a great time to spend with family and presents can be symbol of love and generosity, but they shouldn’t break the bank,” he said. 

“Consumers should have the courage to talk to their gift giving circle about unnecessary gift giving. It’s highly likely they feel the same way. Other common tips include setting present spending limits, shopping early to reduce overspending in a rush, and arranging a Kris Kringle.” 

RELATED: How to steer clear of these 12 common financial traps this Christmas

But if you are committed to ditching gift giving altogether, just how far could that average Christmas spend of $240 (or $20 a month) go towards helping your finances? Read on below for three money savers.

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1. Boost your savings account balance by $1,285

Say you have an existing savings balance of $10,000. Using ME’s Online Savings Account with an interest rate of 2.85% as an example (assuming you meet the requirements), you would end up with a balance of $17,896 after five years, assuming you deposited $100 into the account each month. But if you added an extra $20 a month on top of that, you would finish with a balance of $19,181 over the same period.

2. Shave 4 months off your home loan

While it might not seem like a lot, making $20 each month in extra repayments on your home loan could save you thousands down the line. For example, say you had a $400,000 home loan with a 4.35% interest rate (currently the average variable rate in the Mozo database) which you were making monthly principal and interest repayments on over a period of 25 years. According to the Mozo extra repayments calculator, just making an extra contribution of $20 a month over the 25 years would shave 4 months off your home loan and save you $4,743 in interest.

3. Take 15% off your energy bills

According to the ACCC, the average household on Australia’s east coast pays $1,636 in power bills each year. By taking that $240 Christmas gift spend and putting it towards energy bills instead, the average household would be able to cover 15% of their bills.

Interested in more money saving tips? Find even more inspiration in our family finances hub, or grab a more rewarding savings account to stash your savings in by heading over to the Mozo savings account comparison tables.

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