Making wise spending decisions this Christmas

January 12, 2021

As joyous as the Christmas season is, consumers must adapt to the “New Normal” while celebrating this year. Everything from our daily activities to special occasions have been disrupted—or canceled completely—because of the coronavirus pandemic, and shifts in our behavior and lasting financial consequences from layoffs, business closures, and more are sure to continue through the 2020 holiday season and beyond. If you thought figuring out how to save money during the holidays in a normal year was tricky, this year will be a whole other struggle.

So, before going out and about to shop for this festive season, pause for a moment and consider whether you could be a little savvier with your cash. Are you really going after the best bargains? Will you regret splashing out too much come January?

The following tips will help you address such questions;

Make a Budget

Christmas spending often goes overboard when consumers fail to reconcile their budget with their shopping list. To avoid overspending, determine how much you can afford to spend on Christmas and then make a list of all your holiday obligations, including presents, travel, and decorations. Then, ascribe a dollar amount to each item, overestimating slightly.

It will probably hurt to spend less this year, but consider this: the world is still reeling from the effects of COVID 19 with countries going into recessions – so save a dollar or two for your rainy days. 

Get creative with gifts

This year is not the year to give the best, top of the range gifts. Instead, focus on smaller, more meaningful or creative gifts and talk to your family and friends before the gifting begins to set expectations upfront. Remember, it is okay if you do not spend a lot of money on Christmas presents. Rather, when making your shopping list for presents, consider creative gifts which are within your budget. Think about how you can use your special talent to make a gift for the recipient instead. If you feel the need to spend money on expensive gifts, reevaluate your decision by asking the following:

  • Is the gift useful to the recipient now and will it be useful in the future?
  • Will I need to take a loan for the expensive gift?
  • Will I have enough savings to buy the rest of the gifts?
  • Does the recipient really need that expensive gift or will a cheaper alternative would be better?

Look for Deals, but do not Get Overwhelmed

If you plan to purchase gifts, but want to save as much as you can in the process, be diligent in your research. Obsessing over when you will get the very best deal can put you into a price-comparison tailspin—and you may end up spending more than originally planned.

 Trim your expenses

There is no doubt we look forward to Christmas shopping however, before going out shopping, consumers must do a thorough Christmas inventory check. When doing an inventory check, consider the following tips:

  • Do you really need to get new Christmas decorations? Consider reusing the ones from previous years.
  • It is easy to get carried away with Christmas shopping so, before heading out, check your pantries to see that you do not note down food items which you already. This will ensure that you do not waste money buying items you already have. Also do the same for your closets. Pull out your beautiful Kalavata from previous occasions. However, if you feel that you have outgrown your outfit, instead of discarding, consider giving it to those who are in need.
  • Go for electronic greeting cards instead. E-cards usually come at minimum or no cost and can be circulated to many friends and relatives via social media or email.

By trimming your expenses, you can help yourself and your family stay within your budget. However, if you are already in debt, make sure to set loan repayment as a top priority by incorporating it in your Christmas budget.

Avoid last minute shopping

With only a few more days to Christmas, supermarkets and retail outlets will be getting busier than usual. So, if you have not done your Christmas shopping yet, consider doing it at their earliest to take advantage of comparative deals offered by retailers. Shopping at the last may lead to consumers paying more.  At the same time, consumers must also be vigilant when doing their Christmas shopping. How can you be more vigilant?

  • Whilst shopping, consumers should ensure to properly inspect products before buying it amidst the busy atmosphere around them, instead of taking the product and rushing to the cashier.
  • If you are buying electrical items or devices, make sure to get the item tested, and check for warranties prior to taking it home. Do not forget to ask for returns policies as this will help you get a redress if the product is faulty.
  • When buying any food item, check for its expiry dates. If there are any stick-on expiry dates to the product, it may most likely be tempered, therefore, carefully remove the stick-on date to see the actual expiry date beneath it.
  • Watch out for any mold growth on meat. Do not purchase any meat product which has been defrosted, has torn packaging, and does not have labelling.
  • Make sure to demand for a receipt for any purchase you do.

 Remember the True Meaning

Let’s be honest. In the midst of the busy Christmas season, it is easy to forget what Christmas is all about. So, when you start to get stressed, and you feel the need to overspend, come back to the true meaning of Christmas. Because that will guide you through this season with a happy heart and sanity. It is not about the gifts. It’s not about the stuff. Christmas is about something MUCH bigger than that!

Finally, consider going local this Christmas. By buying local this Christmas, you can be rest assured that the products you are paying for is not travelling from across the globe, leaving behind carbon footprint which is harmful to the environment. At the same time, when you buy local, you help local workers who are affected by COVID-19, celebrate a decent Christmas with their families.

Consumers coming across any unethical trading practices this festive season are encouraged to call the Council on the toll-free number 155 or lodge a complaint through the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app.