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July is the perfect time to start thinking about Christmas – and not just to enjoy the traditional winter Christmas reserved for our northern hemisphere cousins.

“Whether you head north to escape winter or celebrate at home with mulled wine and the fun of winter festivals and ice skating at Glenelg, there is no doubt that July is a good time to start planning for Christmas,” says People’s Choice Credit Union Spokesperson Stuart Symons.

“Christmas in July is definitely fun, but the reality is Christmas is just around the corner. A little planning now can help you achieve that relaxed stress-free time with your loved ones that you deserve.”

1. Create a budget

“Having a budget helps you focus your spending and gives you a sense of control,” Mr Symons said.

“A budget combined with a plan and a list will help you avoid buying unnecessary gifts, curtail impulse shopping and help you avoid credit remorse,” he said.

Mr Symons said planning and budgeting can also promote generosity.

“Often at Christmas we want to give to charities but we don’t because we feel rushed or overwhelmed. Setting a financial plan with a budget planner can free us up to be more giving to those in need,” he said.

Organise your finances today with our Budget Planner Calculator.

2. Make a list and check it twice

“Lists reduce anxiety by keeping us organised. In the case of Christmas, lists also help us control our finances,” Mr Symons said.

“Make a list and note who you need to buy for and how much you’re willing or able to spend on each person – and don’t forget to include your kids’ teachers or that staff secret Santa that has you running into crowed shops at the last minute each year. The more you plan, the more likely you’ll be able to avoid unexpected expenses and unnecessary stress,” he said.

3. Save with purpose

“Once you know what you want or need to spend on, save money towards Christmas rather than being surprised by it,” Mr Symons said.

“Christmas club accounts that can’t be accessed until November or a Christmas Savings Account  are a great way to put money aside each pay. Having money already set aside for Christmas shopping can help you avoid spending on your credit card and heading into the new year with a sleigh full of fresh debt,” he said.

4. Eavesdrop

“Start listening for hints, noting down Christmas gift ideas and get younger members of the family to put together a wish list that will help you plan what to buy,” Mr Symons said.

“Some people love a gift card so they can shop for bargains at the after Christmas sales while others may want a personal gift. You can reduce stress and last minute trips to the shops by listening carefully. You’ll also have the satisfaction of giving a personalised gift or a DIY Christmas present you know will be appreciated and which shows those you love you know them,” he said.

5. Beat the crowds

“Plan ahead and watch for bargains and sales between now and December. This will help save money but also help you avoid the Christmas crowds and hassles,” Mr Symons said.

“Shopping online early is another way to beat the crowds and save money during sale times, especially if you can have free delivery thrown in. However, don’t forget to make sure you shop securely. You don’t want to be handing your account details to scammers or hackers as an early Christmas present,” he said.

6. Plan your Christmas dinner

“You can save money and avoid grocery bill shock by planning your Christmas dinner menu early, and buying what you need when they are on special,” Mr Symons said.

“That plan also lets others help out by preparing dishes or bringing their own desserts, nibbles or drinks. It is a great way to share the expense and to include others in the day’s festivities,” he said.

7. Plan your holidays ahead

“If you’re heading interstate or overseas to spend Christmas with family, then start planning early and watch out for cheap travel deals,” Mr Symons said.

“Christmas can be a stressful time but you can reduce this somewhat by booking flights early while they’re on special, setting money aside in your Christmas club account to cover fuel, or by booking your car in early for a service or new tires to beat the rush,” he said.

Need help planning your Christmas holiday? Check out our travel checklist to help organise your entire journey.

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