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Tis the season to be thrifty

The festive season should be renamed “Thriftmas”, if the latest consumer survey by Homeloans.com.au is any indication.

Click here to view the 2016 Homeloans Christmas Spending Survey infographic.

The annual Christmas Spending Survey reveals that being thriftier is the name of the game among Aussie families this year, who plan to spend less on gifts and holiday at home.

Christmas has long been renowned as a time of year for excessive spending on gifts, food, entertainment and holidays. But it seems that the rising cost of living is pushing people to heed the words of financial experts who warn against running up excessive credit card debt in December, only to suffer the consequences when bills start to arrive in January.

“The rising cost of living is curtailing the Christmas spending habits of many of the survey respondents,” says Joanna Pretty, general manager – marketing and digital, Homeloans.com.au. “This year, more than 70 per cent of respondents cited that as the reason why they’ll be spending less on gifts. That compares with less than two thirds in 2015.

“Finances are obviously tight this year, with many cutting corners where they can. Some reasons given include the increasing cost of private health insurance; higher fuel, power, phone and grocery costs; and wages remaining static.”

 

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Two thirds of female respondents plan to spend less in 2016.

Women appear to be leading the charge when it comes to financial prudence, with the Christmas Spending Survey finding that two thirds of female respondents plan to spend less than in 2015, while over half of men will be more frugal.

Despite people cutting back, many still plan to spend over $500 on Christmas presents – especially the fellas who anticipate gifts will lighten their wallets by more than $500, compared to 38 per cent of the ladies. Nationally, a quarter of respondents plan to spend less than $200 on gifts, with New South Welshmen appearing to be the thriftiest at 30 per cent.

 

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More than three quarters of the population will remain at home this summer.

 

Replacing a vacation with a staycation

Of course Christmas is also a traditional time to head off on holidays. But, here again, Aussies are paring back their plans, with many replacing a vacation with a staycation. The survey found that more than three quarters of the population will remain at home this summer.

“However, what we did find was that for those who do plan to go away, overseas and interstate travel is set to increase at the expense of intrastate travel,” Joanna says. “West Australians are most likely to travel overseas, South Australians are more likely to travel interstate, while Queensland respondents are more likely to take a break within their own state.”

With a new year comes many resolutions – and financial ones are no exceptions. The survey results suggest that financial matters are top of mind when people start the new year.

“Reduce debt” is the most popular finance New Year resolution for 2017. And while male respondents plan to spend more on Christmas presents than females, the survey also showed that they want to manage their money and control spend more than females (30 per cent vs 21 per cent). Overall, almost a third of respondents want to reduce their debt, another third want to save more money, while a quarter want to manage their money better by controlling how much they spend.

 

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Almost 50 per cent of 18-24-year-olds plan to buy their Christmas gifts online.

 

Finding the best bargains online

None of this means that we’re becoming a nation of Scrooges. Joanna says the survey results simply show that we’re responding sensibly to a changing economic climate while continuing to enjoy ourselves while living within our means. That includes making the most of snagging the best bargains by shopping online.

“More of shoppers’ time will be spent buying online compared to last year,” she says. The survey found that two out of five people will be buying more than half of their gifts this way, up from 36 per cent in 2015.

“It’s not surprising that Millennials are more likely to use retailers’ digital offerings, with almost 50 per cent of 18-24-year-olds buying online. Young adults and millennials are very savvy when it comes to navigating the plethora of online stores and finding the right gift at the right price.”

 

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Phyllis Stylianou

Phyllis Stylianou is a journalist with 35 years’ experience as a reporter, sub-editor and editor. Writing is the great love of her life (after her family) – as is renovating old homes and building new ones (which she’s embarking on again!) So writing about everything to do with building, renovating and gardening is her passion.

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Homeloans Ltd.