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Picture sitting around your beautifully laid table with your family and friends, packed to the edges with all your favourite Christmas food. There’s a Christmas tree with department-store-perfect decorations, kids handmade ornaments and far too many presents underneath. Sounds pretty good, right? Now try mentally putting price tags on all those things…

Spending big at Christmas isn’t exactly a new thing. While the numbers differ across the globe, collectively, we spend trillions every year. And the numbers just keep going up – it also doesn’t help that the department stores start promoting Christmas in October!

Keep an eye out for this silly season spending snare

So what’s changed in recent years? Well, apart from the fact that global Christmas spending just keeps going up, there are a few more shopping and payments trends on the scene. And if you’re not careful, they could land you on the naughty list.

First up, there’s Afterpay. This payment option, which is available online and in stores, may best be described as layby in reverse. In other words, you get to order or take home items now, and your payments are spread out over instalments. What’s helped Afterpay take Australia and New Zealand by storm is the fact that it’s interest free (of course there are fees for late payments), and the first payment isn’t taken on the day of purchase either.

Other ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) options include zipPay and FuturePay. At a very basic level, these fintech platforms work the same way. When the shopper opts for BNPL, they’re directed (online or in store) to log in to the platform. If they’ve not signed in before, they’ll have to add details to have an instant credit risk assessment done. So straight off the bat, there’s one thing you’ve got to be aware of. Your application may appear on your credit file, and you’ll want to be sure your information is secure as well.

That said, new payment tools and platforms can be handy at other times. Some can even help you smooth out your cash flow. It’s just important to a) be aware of what you purchase in the first place, and b) plan and budget to manage your repayments.

Have a jolly ol’ time… within budget

Avoiding unnecessary debt doesn’t have to mean having a miserable Christmas. While you shouldn’t feel forced to splurge, you shouldn’t feel like you’re missing out either. There are lots of fun, family-friendly ways to reduce the costs of Christmas here and there. Holiday baking and crafting is just the start. While you might not be able to stop the kids or grandkids nagging you (’Santa’) for whatever the popular toy is that year, you can plan ahead and balance your budget in other ways. ASIC’s MoneySmart website has some fantastic tips and tricks on how to skip the Christmas spending hangover, while their TrackMySPEND app will help you feel a little less like Scrooge, and a little more like Santa.

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