With school holidays in full swing and just 12 weeks till Christmas, now is a good time to tweak your family budget so that your finances don’t take a hit during the spending season. Whether you’re planning a family holiday, thinking of ways to entertain the kids or juggling the financial pressures of travel and present-buying, it’s important to budget (and save) accordingly.

Read on to see how you can better organise your finances before the festive cheer sets in.

Entertain the kids at little (or no) cost


Despite popular belief, the school holidays don’t need to be a financial burden. You just need to think of activities that don’t cost a lot. From going on a bike ride to visiting the pool to checking out a local museum or art gallery, there are endless activities that you can do with the kids that won’t cost you a cent. Do a little research and see what activities are on in your local area during the school holiday period and organise some free (or budget-friendly) days out.

Deal sites like Groupon also offer competitive prices on a range of activities, including meal discounts. Plus, if you refer a friend, you’ll get $10 in Groupon dollars.

Roll your personal debt into one account


It may be tempting to put all of your purchases on your credit card or to take out a personal loan to cover all your festive season costs, but this can be dangerous territory if you don’t exercise caution.

Research from January this year found that 41% of Aussies returned from the holidays with credit card debt, with around $7.5 billion of debt clocked up. Worryingly, 44% of Aussies failed to service their debt within a month of returning home.

If you have several credit cards or loans, consolidating your debt is a good way for you to better your financial position. Consolidating your debts into one account means you can enjoy lower interest rates and fewer fees compared to what you’d have to pay with several accounts.

Travel during non-peak periods


If you’re planning a family getaway, avoid travelling during peak periods like December and January and the school holidays. Travelling during these times often means being overcharged for flights, accommodation, tours and activities.

To avoid these inflated prices, make sure that you book your trip well in advance. A recent finder.com.au study found that the “sweet spot” for the best time to book flights is around 17 weeks in advance for long-haul international and domestic flights, so keep this in mind before you book.

Consider alternate payment methods


These days there are so many different payment methods at our fingertips. From Afterpay to in-store finance to interest-free payments, there are many new ways to transact. For instance, Afterpay allows you to purchase your item and repay the amount in four instalments over eight weeks at no extra cost.

If you’re diligent with making your repayments, this could be a good option for you during the spending season, but just be mindful of the late fees that apply if you miss a repayment.

The holiday period puts financial strain on most households, but if you plan ahead and think of ways to minimise your costs, you can alleviate this pressure. Whether it’s being resourceful when entertaining the kids, consolidating your credit card debt, opting to travel during non-peak periods or making the most of alternative payment options, there are many ways that you can prepare for the spending season so that you can enjoy the holidays doing what you love.

Bessie Hassan

Money Expert at Finder.com.au
Bessie Hassan is a Money Expert at Finder.com.au.
Bessie Hassan
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