7 Christmas budgeting tips for a happier holiday season

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Your Christmas budgeting time starts now.

Well Christmas is just around the corner. That translates to the beginning of relentless financial demands, casting a shadow over the holiday season.

It is lovely seeing family and friends, exchanging gifts and enjoying great food together.

Yet, the escalating cost of Christmas can mean anxiety for the more mature among us, worried about how to cover expenses on a set or limited income.

So we thought we’d investigate some tangible ways to make smarter spending decisions and still end up with a Christmas to remember!

Christmas budgeting tip #1: Set a budget

Draw up a list of Christmas essentials including gifts, food, and decorations. If you’re travelling over the holiday season, don’t forget to add in travel costs.

Once you have set your budget, the harder task is sticking to it. It’s time to develop RBB – retail-bling-blindness – so you’re not tempted by the bright, glittery bits and baubles every shopkeeper in Australia wants you to buy between now and Christmas Day.

Imagine, if you decide today to stop buying a couple of takeaway coffees a week at say $3.50 each – that’s just over $200 added to your Christmas budget if you start in September!

The federal government’s MoneySmart guide shows that 57% of Australians set a budget for Christmas, and 4 in 5 stick to it!

Christmas budgeting tip #2: Lay-by

There’s still time to lay-by goods for Christmas at the bigger stores, and work out a manageable payment plan.

But think ahead to next year too, and organise your lay-bys around the big-ticket seasonal sales. That way, you can buy great presents at mid-year discounts, and it’s all done and dusted in time for Christmas.

Christmas budgeting tip #3: Buy presents throughout the year

You don’t have to wait until November to start your Christmas shopping. Whenever you see an interesting sale, pop in and check out potential gifts. Browsing without the pressure of time can open up a range of unexpected gift ideas.

You get more choice of item and price than if you wait for the big pre-Christmas spend-a-thon, and you opt out of the shopping stress which gets more and more intense as the holiday season approaches.

Christmas budgeting tip #4: Secret Santa

If you have a large family or close group of friends, this can work a treat. Buying one significant present rather than heaps of not-such-great ones avoids a lot of wasted money and needless stress.

Don’t be afraid to have the conversation with your near and dear ones. Some people think they’ll be regarded as mean if they suggest it. But you’ll be doing your family members a favour, as it saves them money too. Your idea might be greeted with great enthusiasm and relief!

Christmas budgeting tip #5: Challenge your own mindset

Do you really think your grandchildren will love you less if you buy smaller presents? Make a real effort this Christmas to strengthen your relationships with family and friends, shifting the emphasis from spending money to spending time. After all, isn’t this the real meaning of Christmas?

Remember, shops just want to sell more goods. You don’t have to buy into this marketing ploy, and you don’t have to buy luxury items you can’t afford. Talk to your friends, and you’ll likely find they’re feeling the same pressure to spend what they haven’t got. So be strong and look for creative alternatives!

Christmas budgeting tip #6: Consider joint presents

Group presents and vouchers are a great way to share the love and save money at the same time. Forget individual presents and consider:

  • Board or video games all your grandchildren can enjoy.
  • Giant tins of yummy biscuits or chocolates everyone can dip into.
  • Coffee and cake for family and friends at a café in a beautiful location.
  • Your own summer ‘garden party’ where you home-bake, decorate the garden and make a fuss of everyone.
  • A summer picnic for friends with a home-packed hamper of goodies.
  • Home-created vouchers for babysitting sessions, clean-ups or lawn mows.

Christmas budgeting tip #7: Cut Christmas Day food costs

If you’re hosting a Christmas get-together this year, keep it simple and ‘trim the trimmings’.

Remember that we always buy way more Christmas food than we actually consume, and it usually keeps us going all through January!

Work out a classic meal and trick it up with carefully chosen seasonal treats. Make your own Christmas sweets, biscuits and desserts. Or go for a cold spread this year and ask guests to bring a plate. This shares the costs and everyone gets to enjoy their favourite dishes.

So look beyond the marketing hype this Christmas, and give yourself a break with these budgeting tips. The festive season can be cheaper and a lot more fun that way!

How many sleeps until Christmas day?

No pressure but to find out how many sleeps left until Christmas visit the Xmas Clock.

Happy planning!

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