If you haven’t discovered the joys of nabbing a Boxing Day Bargain you are in for a surprise. If you can hang in there, your new year’s outfit could be on sale for a fraction of the price you would pay just a week out from Christmas. Here are some tips from David Rankin, founder of Sort My Money on how to shop boxing day on a budget (and stick to it!)
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“I’m a big believer in Boxing Day. Apart from the very notable fact that it’s my birthday, it’s the day in our family when we come home and create a catwalk in the living room. When we parade our new fashions – while doing our supermodel best to look haughty and cool.
It can be difficult, though, to disguise the ‘chuffedness’ you feel after a day of big-brand stores offloading their big-brand labels on you for a fraction of their true value.
Ensuring you have enough in the bank to fit your annual clothes shop into this once-a-year bonanza, though, takes some planning. The festive season is expensive enough in other parts of the world, but here in Australia we have Christmas followed by the Boxing Day sales, the summer holidays and the start of a new school year. That’s a quadruple whammy of high annual outgoings in quick succession.
The only way for most Australians to survive the onslaught of costs at this time of year is to plan for them. If you’re already feeling that the forthcoming sales are out of your reach, it might be best to pass on them this year. To treat yourself to a Boxing Day movie rather than a trip to the department store. After all, a low account balance + temptation = debt that you would probably prefer not to be saddled with for next year and beyond.
This could be your chance to put an end to the financial disappointment you feel at this time of year. The key to transforming things from being out of your control to being within your sphere of influence is firstly to make a plan, and secondly to stick to it.
The first part: Making the plan
Involves seeing the Boxing Day sales as just another event in the financial calendar, like annual car rego or – you’ve guessed it – your Christmas budget. Once you reduce these outgoings to financial events, each one simply becomes another forecastable occurrence which can be planned for.
You already know (or can find out) when your loan repayments, gym direct debits and power bills are due, for example, and roughly how much they will be. This information – along with a Boxing Day allowance and the like – can be used to systemise your outgoings into a budget.
This just leaves your variable day-to-day living expenses for food, drink and petrol. A great way to control these is to set yourself a pragmatic weekly amount for them, to withdraw this as cash on the same day every week and to scrap the plastic.
By plotting your income and projected outgoings, you’re able to calculate – ahead of time – how much is realistic for your annual Boxing Day splurge. This means you have the peace of mind of knowing the money you spend on that day really is affordable. No buyer’s remorse and no need to return those high-end fashions in the New Year to finance the summer holidays.
The second part: Sticking with the program
Is arguably more important than the first. This is achieved by treating your new budget as a marathon, not a sprint. As a financial sprinter, you probably used to go hard just before Christmas and then fall in a heap by Boxing Day. Now, the new holistic you sees the whole of your budget – as opposed to any single financial deadline – as the goal.
Your newly drawn-up comprehensive financial roadmap gives you the peace of mind which enables you to pass every landmark at an even pace. Applying your new habits to your Boxing Day budget – in the form of a single ATM withdrawal prior to your annual ‘cash splash’ – is a practical example of how to stick to your allowance and take each milestone of your financial marathon in your stride.
Just as the release of endorphins by the brain leads to a feeling of euphoria in many runners, the ‘legal high’ you experience will be every bit as good when you return – on budget – from the Boxing Day sales and strut your stuff at your very own fashion show.”