Making Money: The cost of Christmas generosity

Christmas is a fun time of year but many of us could be left paying festive season bills long after the tinsel is packed away. The thing is, you don’t have to be a Grinch to enjoy an affordable festive season. It just takes a bit of organisation.

I’ve come across research showing one in three Australians spend more than they can afford during the holiday season, and that’s a real worry for families, who can be left cash-strapped in the New Year.

At a time of year when our wallets get lighter as gift lists get longer, it pays to avoid unnecessary costs.

If you’re buying big ticket items like appliances and electricals, be prepared for the retailer to try and sell you an extended warranty. 

Under Australian consumer law, you already have extensive rights to a refund, repair or replacement. So don’t be pressured into purchasing extended warranties you don’t need. Hold onto your sales docket for proof of purchase.

If you’re heading online for your Christmas shopping, take a bit of extra care. 

The internet is extremely handy when it comes to comparing prices and tracking down bargains, but beware of dodgy websites.

Always look for security features, like website addresses beginning with ‘https’, that show your payment details should be safe.  And if you come across an advertised price that seems too good to be true, chances are it probably is.

When it comes to cyber shopping, don’t forget to make allowances for delivery fees – they can quickly add up. 

OK, that’s enough of me being Scrooge, have a very merry Christmas!

Paul Clitheroe is a founding director of financial planning firm ipac and chief commentator for Money Magazine.