Santa working at desk and typing on a laptop surrounded by colorful Christmas gifts and letters, hands top view

The 5 hidden costs of Christmas

Christmas sneaks up on us every year, and before we know it we’re up to our armpits in presents and yuletide cheer. But just as the silly season comes without warning, so do a number of hidden expenses that can blow out your budget and make the holidays a little less jolly.

Christmas spending is predicted to grow 3 per cent this year according to the Australian Retail Association (ARA), with NSW shopping big yet again. Finder.com reports that on average, Australian shoppers are expected to spend $539 this year, over $100 more than 2015 – so it’s no surprise many people rely on budgeting and saving to get by.

Here’s a list of some unexpected costs of Christmas to look out for so you can stay ahead and don’t blow out your budget:

  1. Unexpected visitors

No matter how on top of planning you are, Murphy’s law would like to remind you that the unexpected can and will happen. From family members showing up ahead of schedule, to the neighbours popping over for tea and mince pies for the third time this week, surprise socialising and Christmas go hand in hand.

MoneySmart advises you to start saving early, so you can cover these extra costs as the relatives roll in. After all, Christmas is a time for generosity and sharing, so it pays to save for some goodwill in the shopping list. The Police Bank Christmas Club Account offers a convenient way to save for the festive season.

  1. Online shopping costs

The internet has allowed many people to do their Christmas shopping from the comfort of their couches. It’s an attractive option, and with the ability to shop around for the best deals, it’s an opportunity to save a little extra. Yet it pays to be wary of hidden costs when perusing online.

Be on the lookout for booking fees, service fees and handling fees: just some of the extra costs when purchasing online, according to Choice. On a more urgent note, scam websites can leave you out of pocket entirely, so make sure you research who or what you’re buying from before you hit ‘Process My Order’.

  1. Christmas lighting

There are few sights prettier and more inviting that a house dolled up in fairy lights. However, each of those twinkling gems adds a little more to your energy bill at the end of the month. The Australian government recommends you turn off the lights when you go to sleep to avoid energy wastage, and reduce the risk of leaving them on all day.

  1. Boxing Day sales

Australians broke boxing day records in 2015, says ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman, with the same likely to happen again this year. The deals may be great, but keep in mind they add up to the overall Christmas budget. Try to resist the temptation to go all out and instead make a spending plan and stick to it.

  1. Gift cards

While gift cards might seem like the ideal present for the hard-to-buy-for, keep in mind that many aren’t redeemed or expire before they’re used, effectively throwing the money spent on them away. According to Minister for Consumer Affairs Jane Garrett, speaking to The Age, a third of gift cards went unused in 2015 in Victoria, totaling millions of dollars wasted. With ARA tipping NSW to spend millions more than VIC this year, how many millions more will go towards gift cards? Vouchers are great Christmas ideas, just make sure they get used!

If you’re wondering how you’ll make it through the festive season budget-intact, don’t worry. With a Police Bank personal loan we can help you with those large purchases and cover extra costs, so you can relax and enjoy a stress-free Christmas.