MY MONEY

Why it's already time to start saving money for Christmas

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Christmas might feel comfortably distant while some of us are still wearing scarves to work.

But the silly season is notorious for creeping up and ambushing the household finances at the end of the year - it certainly doesn't come cheap.

Aussies spend around $1325 each during the festive season, forking out for gifts, travel, alcohol and food before settling in for some serious merrymaking.

Yet those who don't leave enough time to save will usually find that their bank account takes a battering. Suddenly, a credit card becomes the only option.

About one in four Aussies (27%) rely on plastic to see them through the festive season and many end up with a post-Christmas debt hangover as a result.

But with just under 13 weeks to go until December, there's still enough time to set enough cash aside to take the sting out of Christmas.

Christmas saver accounts can be a good option for those who can't resist dipping into their savings from time to time.

This type of account allows you to make deposits and earn interest on your balance throughout the year, and only lets you access the funds once the holiday period begins (usually around December 1).

Rather than restrict access completely, some banks might charge a higher withdrawal fee if you want to access your funds early to encourage account holders to save.

The trick with growing your savings is to start now.

The table demonstrates how much you could have in the bank by December 1 if you were to start saving this week.

For instance, if you set aside $100 weekly into a Christmas savings account, you'd have $1312 saved by December.

This should be enough to cover most of your expenses.

If possible, schedule an automatic transfer to come out of your account each pay.

This way you won't notice the funds are gone and you'll have a decent nest egg saved once December rolls around.

By starting now you can take the pressure off your finances this festive season and focus on what really matters.

And what gift could be more priceless than that?

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Bessie Hassan is a money expert at Finder.
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