While Christmas may seem a long way off yet, before you know it the decorations will start to hit the shops and you’ll be left in a panic wondering once again where on earth this year has gone. What’s more, it’s likely that although you swore that you’d start budgeting for this Christmas last January, your good intentions disappeared once last year’s festivities were over. According to the Australian Retailers Association, Australians spend around $45 billion in the run up to Christmas, so if you want to get ahead of the game without resorting to maxing out your credit cards, here’s our top 10 tips on how to plan a Christmas holiday on a budget.
It’s no good making a budget if you’re going to blow it as soon as you see all the Christmas goodies laid out in store just begging you to buy them. Work out a reasonable budget and then stick to it. Remember you should take into account your usual outgoings before you work out how much to set aside for gifts, food, drink, and other incidentals. And don’t forget to include money for travelling, accommodation and meals out if you’re planning to spend Christmas away from home. The more finely detailed your budget, the more likely are you to remain within in.
Whether you choose to spend $1 or $100 on each present, having a budget for gifts will help you to see exactly how quickly the money spent on gifts can add up, especially if you buy for many people. Make a gift list and assign a budget next to each person, then you can be sure you’re buying within your means. If you’re really struggling to make ends meet, this could be the year where you negotiate cost limits on gifts with your family. That will take away the stress of feeling that you have to match the gifts you receive dollar for dollar.
You’re more likely to impulse buy if you go shopping without a list. Having detailed lists (with budgets assigned) for everything from gifts down to the ingredients for your Christmas punch will help you to keep a tight rein on your finances. We all know how easy it is to be swayed by the sight of that inflatable Santa, but if it’s not on your list, leave it in the shop.
If you’re finding it hard to stretch to buying gifts for all your loved ones, why not consider making them a gift instead? From homemade baked goodies to hand-knitted socks, you’re only limited by your imagination – and your skills, of course. If you’re not a dab hand in the kitchen or with a set of knitting needles, you could offer a service instead – such as volunteering to clear that patch of weeds for your grandma, or offering to babysit for your brother and his wife so they can go out to dinner.
The cost of food and drink at this time of year can quickly get out of control. In fact, it’s estimated that Australian households will spend around $18.5 billion on food alone this year. If it’s your turn to be the ‘hostess with the mostest’ this year, ask some of your guest to bring salads, desserts, beer or bubbly, and help spread the cost of the festivities.
We all love the idea of spending Christmas in some swanky hotel on the beach, but if your budget doesn’t run to luxury accommodation and you’re desperate for some time away, why not consider booking a serviced apartment instead? You’ll get all the fun of a home away from home, and without the unreasonable costs.
Sign up for email alerts from your favourite stores and you’ll receive plenty of special discounts to spend both online and in-store. Take advantage of discount days to buy your essentials, and don’t forget to check your rewards and loyalty cards to see what you have available to spend.
If you’re really struggling to find the money to buy gifts for your family, why not try a Secret Santa? This way everyone will get a gift and your bank account won’t suffer too much.
Taking kids into a shop filled with Christmas goodies is just asking for your budget to be blown. Leave the children at home when you go Christmas shopping
And finally, if you have to part with your hard earned dollars in cash, it’ll make you think twice about what you buy. Don’t resort to credit cards – you’ll only regret it after Christmas!