Far from being bathed with ethereal Christmas joy, it’s possible you’re in a festive frenzy of ham preparation, prawn plans (who doesn’t have a strategy by now to get crustaceans on the table?) and gift buying.
It’s at this crucial five-days-to-go point that your designated “yule fuel” – how you originally intended to cover the cost of the celebration – could be exhausted, and then some. Considered consumption is most likely to give way to panic purchasing when it comes to the biggest expense – presents. That will account for $492 of the average $1178 spend this Christmas, according to a survey by comparison site Finder.
Eftpos Australia says it expects the seven days before Christmas to account for 27 per cent of all sales volume for December. Saturday will be the busiest day, as it’s generally the highest trade day of any week and this will be compounded with Christmas on a Monday (which hasn’t happened since 2006).
Well, my message is stop, take a deep breath and project forward ??? to your Christmas Freedom Date.
Long after the tree has been pulled down and the Christmas cracker crap thrown away, many Australian credit card holders will still be paying off their debt. So to give cause for credit pause, I asked Finder to extend its usual spending survey, exclusively for Fairfax Media, to determine the average date we’ll clear the last merry dollar.
It’s headed March 10, 2018. Almost Easter.
That’s an average of 2.3 months to pay off Christmas debt this year, according to the survey of 1278 Australians.
Only 28 per cent of those surveyed said they would pay off their Christmas debt immediately.
The average Christmas Freedom Date is also likely to be later than previous years. Although this is the first time Finder has isolated a date, we know that between 80 and 90 per cent of people with Christmas debt took only one to three months to repay it in 2014 to 2016, but the number has fallen to 69 per cent this year.
Instead, one in six people will take four to six months, up from about one in 10 previously. And those who take seven to 12 months have risen from virtually none to 12 per cent. Debt lag from holidays
A separate Finder survey has also found that nearly 4 million Australians (41 per cent) are likely to return from their holidays with a debt lag of a collective $7.5 billion. A full $180 million in interest will be paid on this debt over 2018.
The analysis shows that Australians accrued an average of $2705 on their credit cards while holidaying in 2016, taking, on average, just under six months to clear their debt.
Worse, one in 10 people with credit card debt took more than 12 months to pay it off.
“Australians have accrued $180 million in credit card interest from trips over the past year, 29 per cent more than the $140 million in 2015, with one in 38 travellers worried that they’ll never be able to pay off their trip,” Finder spokeswoman Bessie Hassan says.
Shopping sprees are apparently the biggest holiday blowout, with more than one in three respondents (35 per cent) splurging cash at the shops on their getaway. One in four (24 per cent) flashed the plastic for luxury accommodation.
Fancy restaurants are the indulgence of choice for one in five Australian travellers, while one in 10 splashes out on once in a lifetime events, such as a sporting match or concert.
So what can you do to stop this seemingly relentless Christmas holiday debt march? Some ideas:
1. Remember December 25 is one fleeting day – it doesn’t need to be a fleecing one.
2. Younger kids have no appreciation of cost. They’ll probably like a $10 present as much as a $100 gift, if it’s the right one.
3. Avoid presents becoming your escalating expense; if you’ve bought too much for one person, stockpile something for next year rather than panic purchasing to bring the other presents up to par.
4. If presents are on your Saturday to-do list, gift vouchers mean your loved ones will get better value in the post-Christmas sales. They’re not (entirely) a cop-out!
5. Santa photos are highway robbery. And there are usually plenty of free options (by enterprising stores and attractions that want to get you into their premises, of course).
6. Food that is to be shared should be shared prepared. It’s not too late to delegate some of the Christmas feast. Your guests would probably love the opportunity to show off their cooking prowess anyway.
7. Sure, treat yourself to a holiday indulgence or two – you’ve earned it. But not so much that your spending hangover will last beyond Easter. As Hassan says: “Nothing stops that holiday feeling quite like a debt you can’t repay.”
Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon is a commentator and educator who presents her Smart Money Start, fun financial literacy incursion, in high schools around Australia. Follow Nicole on Facebook at Nicole Pedersen-McKinnon Money.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.