Christmas Savings Tips

Watch out wallet. Santa is on his way. Christmas is the most expensive time of the year for most Kiwi families. It’s not too late to get saving for this Christmas (or next).

If Christmas blows a hole in the budget it’s a good idea to save $10 a week all year. That means there will be money in the pot for presents and treats at Christmas.

If the Ghost of Christmas Past comes back to haunt you in the form of a credit card statement, then try these options for a credit-free Christmas:

Open a Christmas account. Some banks and credit unions have Christmas Club accounts. If not, regular savings accounts can be earmarked for Christmas. The advantage of some Christmas club accounts such as those offered by credit unions is that they don’t allow withdrawals during the year “”“ removing the temptation to spend the money on other things.For people with see money and spend it tendencies that’s a real bonus. The credit union accounts sometimes pay high rates of interest. Setting up a direct debit to the Christmas account will ensure that there is money in the pot when the first tinsel starts showing up in shops.

Use supermarket and store Christmas Clubs. Kiwis can also “”save”” with supermarket and store Christmas savings schemes. Most offer good deals. Instead of earning interest, members usually get discounts on merchandise, or more than they deposited to spend at the checkout.Most Christmas clubs allow customers to deposit money as they pass through the checkout each week or by direct debit, automatic payment or Internet banking.Each is slightly different:

  • Countdown: Instead of saving onto a card, customers buy Christmas Club vouchers during the year.Customers get a 5% bonus on the vouchers if they’re spent in December or January, although they can be spent any time.Vouchers come in $5, $10 and $20 denominations.
  • The Warehouse: Customers deposit money on their Christmas Club cards at the checkout during the year or via direct debit, automatic payment or Internet banking.They get 5% off all purchases in December including already discounted items. The money can only be spent in December.
  • New World, Pak’nSAVE and Four Square: These supermarkets have card-based Christmas Clubs. Money is deposited at the checkout, via direct debit or by automatic payment. Bonuses are paid on the money depending on when it is deposited. For example $5 paid in up to February 29 is worth $5.32 when it is redeemed in December “”“ although money can be spent at any time. The bonuses get smaller for money deposited during the year until the period from September to November when $5 deposited becomes $5.17 at the checkout.

Do make sure you read all the terms and conditions of these accounts.If, for example, they become inactive, meaning there are no payments into the account or spending, the cards expire and the money is forfeited.

Use layby. Layby still exists and it’s a great way to “”save”” for presents. The store puts the item aside and customers make periodic payments. Once paid for in full the item can be picked up. The customer doesn’t pay any interest on the item “”“ although there may be a setup charge. It is often offered by small local stores and some larger ones such as Kmart and The Warehouse.

Finally, it’s not a good idea financially to sign up for Christmas hamper-style clubs. It is far more costly to buy through these catalogues than it is to save for Christmas in one of the ways mentioned above.”

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