With shopping centres flooding with extravagant Christmas decor and gift ideas, it’s natural to want to start your holiday spending early.

However, if you haven’t set a budget you could fall into the trap of overspending.

To avoid starting your new year in debt, here are some tips to track your expenses.

1. Plan your gifts

There’s nothing better than buying gifts for family and friends. To ensure you don’t go overboard on giving this year, create a plan. Write a list of all the family and friends you want to buy for along with the cost of specific gift ideas. This will give you an indication of your overall spending for presents under the tree. For those on a tight budget, consider a Secret Santa approach on Christmas Day. This will give family members a set budget and could limit unwanted gifts.

Another option is to make your own homemade gifts, such Christmas cookies, or to only buy presents for the kids in your life.

2. Split the menu

If you’re hosting Christmas this year, share the financial load by splitting the menu. A Christmas ham alone could cost up to $200. If everyone brings a plate of food, the overall cost of the Christmas feast is reduced, plus it adds a great variety of dishes for everyone to enjoy. It also means less stress for you and more time to enjoy Christmas Day.

3. Shop around for the best price

If you consider yourself to be a savvy shopper, now is the time to put your skills to the test. Christmas is the biggest time of year for retailers, so make sure you shop around for the best price before swiping or tapping your card. It can pay to do a little research online before hitting the shops, as some stores might match or beat the competitor’s price.

4. Avoid fees

Being financially organised and paying your credit card, layby or 'buy now pay later' bills on time could save you from paying unnecessary fees. Remember to read all the terms and conditions associated with your payment plans to ensure you fully understand your financial commitment. Be aware of how much you are spending on delivery fees too, as this can quickly add up.

5. Save throughout the year

Keep your holiday savings top of mind throughout the year with the mymo by BCU personal financial assistant app. Securely add your transaction and savings accounts, credit cards, home and personal loans and more from every Australian financial institution you bank with into mymo in just a few clicks, so you can see exactly where your money is going. mymo can help you to work out exactly what you need to do to reach your Christmas savings goal so you can stress less during the silly season.

Important information

Banking and Credit products issued by Police & Nurses Limited (BCU) ABN 69 087 651 876 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 240701. Any advice does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Read the relevant Product Terms and Condition, before acquiring this product in considering and deciding whether it is right for you. The Target Market Determination (TMD) for products is available on request. Lending criteria, terms & conditions, fees & charges apply.