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Author: Kirsty Lamont | mozo.com.au

5 ways to save money preparing for Christmas

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Christmas is fast approaching, and 'tis the season to shop til you drop! But there's no need to bust your budget just to get into the holiday spirit. As long as you're prepared ahead of time, you can save money without being a scrooge.

We interviewed Kirsty Lamont, Director at financial comparison website mozo.com.au, a money saving expert. Here's how she broke down her 5 top money saving tips to help you get your finances in shape and ready for a frugal festive season.

1. Set yourself a budget

The first step of any financial plan is to sit down and hammer out a budget. Start by writing down everything you could possibly need to buy for the upcoming holiday season, from a comprehensive gift list, right down to an itemised shopping list for Christmas lunch, along with how much you plan to spend on it.

Once you've got your Christmas costs masterlist, you'll have an idea of what the bill will look like, and from there, you can start working on eliminating unnecessary purchases and then finding the funds to snap up the rest. Use Greater Bank's Budget Calculator to get a picture of your finances in minutes.

2. Narrow down your gift list

Buying fewer presents is a no-brainer way to save money and keep Christmas spending from getting out of hand. But instead of simply culling people off your list, try talking to those closest to you to work out if anyone actually needs or wants gifts this year. Chances are, no-one really needs anything, and many people would probably be happy to forgo gifts in favour of getting together to catch up.

Or, if you can't bear to do away with gifts entirely, Secret Santa can be a great way to limit the cash you're dropping on presents without anyone missing out.

3. Work on your savings stash

Whether you use your regular account or set up a special high interest savings account for Christmas, the important thing is to keep putting any spare funds away in preparation for a holiday blowout.

If you've budgeted out your holiday spend, you can even use a tool like Greater Bank's savings calculator to see if you're on track to have enough money saved by your Christmas deadline.

4. Choose a low rate Credit Card

If you're going to be breaking out the plastic when it comes time to hit the shops, it pays to make sure you have the best possible credit card in your spending arsenal. With credit card rates as high as 20.74% around, snagging a low rate like the 11.95% on offer with the Greater Bank Visa Credit Card can save you a bundle.

Other things to look for in a great value credit card for this Christmas include a generous number of interest free days and a low annual fee. By choosing your credit card wisely now, you can avoid the worst of the Christmas debt hangover and save yourself a tonne of worries - and money.

5. Plan in advance

Santa may be able to do it all in one night, but you can't. The sooner you have a plan in place, the easier it will be for you to get your finances sorted out and be ready for Christmas. Not only will you be able to save as much as you can, but being ready early means taking advantage of sales on things like kid's toys and must-have ingredients for Christmas lunch.

Christmas might have snuck up on you way too soon already, but it's never too late to get started on whipping your finances into shape. There's still more than a month for you to put these money savings tips to good use, so what are you waiting for?

Kirsty Lamont is a Director at financial comparison website mozo.com.au. She is passionate about helping Australians get a better money deal and helping them make better, more informed choices.

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