The Christmas season is nearly upon us! The season of joy brings with it the usual decorations, copious amounts of food, family do’s and of course, presents.
But all that joy comes at a big cost; if you have three children for example, you’re likely to spend over $150 just buying presents for them, let alone all the rest of the family! And then there is the food to be bought for Christmas lunch, new decorations, all the trimmings.
It is easy to forget when buying presents and the rest that our bills and other expenses don’t just go away! (Although that would be a real joy!)
Paying your bills on time is just as important around Christmas as it is any other time of the year, however arguably is much more difficult! Planning ahead can help you avoid running out of cash before the boxing day sales are upon us!
We have come up with a couple of ideas that can help you plan ahead, and keep on top of all the expenses that come rolling in with a new year.
- Plan ahead: we all know that around Christmas time we will be buying lots of presents, so why not start setting aside money for this early in the year, you could put Christmas funds in a separate savings account and add to it every pay, or purchase a gift card from Westfield (or Myer etc. wherever you usually do your shopping) and add to it every month; by the time Christmas rolls around, you won’t need to be stressed over finding money for presents!
- Big bad bill: Important all year ’round, make sure all your bills are paid before you even start thinking about presents or parties, what is left over after your financial obligations becomes your festive budget.
- Always time to shop: Over the course of the year if you see something (particularly if it is on sale) that would be perfect for someone for Christmas, purchase it at the time! You can create a stockpile of presents, and if you are really good at it, at the end of the year you won’t even need to fight through the crowds at the shops!
- Make lists; when you go to do your Christmas shopping, make sure you have written a list of what you would like to buy everyone; the Internet and junk mail provide us with an easy way to research what is out there without leaving home! If you know what you are setting out to get, you’re less likely to make expensive impulse purchases!
- Create a budget, and stick to it: creating a budget to work within is important all year round, but is especially important when it comes to Christmas and we have all these extra expenses! Decide how much you will spend on each person, and don’t go over it! Remember to factor in wrapping and shipping costs of presents too!
- Sharing is caring: consider when buying presents for young families buying something that all the kids can share! This means that you can get them something really nice, but may end up spending less overall! For example, with a family of 4 children, instead of buying them each a gift for $50 ($200 total) you could buy one extraordinary gift for $150!
- Gifts that keep on giving: consider buying presents like magazine subscriptions or beauty subscriptions like BellaBox, these are usually quite reasonably priced, especially when buying a years worth of subscription in one go, and the recipient will remember what you got them all year ’round!
- Shop around: again the Internet can provide us with a way to find great bargains on gifts, that can end up much cheaper then in stores; be wary though that you are getting a genuine item, and also remember to factor in shipping costs.
- Santa surprise: If you have a particularly large family, look into starting up a Secret Santa pool for present giving, if you are only buying presents for one member of your family, you can afford to spend more on them (although all up you’ll usually end up spending less!), this way, you save some money, spend less time shopping, and the recipient can get something they really want and won’t feel the need to return! For example, instead of buying your three siblings a $50 present each ($150 total), why not have a Secret Santa so you can buy one of them a fantastic $100 gift?
- Regift: no we don’t mean in the traditional give-the-jumper-from-grandma-to-whoever-missed-the-party way, but rather make use of all those giftcards you have won and flybuys/velocity points and the like that will otherwise go forever unused. Realistically you’ll probably be 80 before your weekly groceries earn you a car, so you might as well use the points as you earn them!
- Show off your skills: instead of getting catering or bulk-buying food for your Christmas party; get attendees to bring a plate each; this way you’re likely to firstly have more nutritious food, but also are cutting out a lot of middlemen that can bring the cost of food way higher then it needs to be.
- Get creative: instead of buying a ready made cheese or meat platter, investigate how much it would cost to purchase the small portions of those products yourself, and arrange them on one of your own platters, you may be surprised at how much this can save you! It also lets you pick and choose what goes on the platter, which reduces waste.
- Go fresh: another trap that holiday makers fall into that increases the price of catering for parties is heading straight to the delicacies section of the supermarket: when buying lots of fruit and goodies for Christmas lunch consider heading to your closest farmers market, the produce is fresh, delicious, and usually, a fraction of the prices at major supermarkets.
- Feeling charitable: Christmas is a time when people are in the spirit of giving, and charity organisations very much know this; to avoid giving away too much of your hard earned cash, decide at the start of the year what charities you want to donate to, and stick to them. This way you are still contributing, but are able to keep a check on how much you are giving away. This is also useful because around Christmas time a lot of charity scammers rear their ugly heads; choose a reputable organisation where you can set up giving monthly donations instead of a lump sum- this helps to spread out the cost, but remember, even with charity you have to stick within your budget.
- Lucky coin: another way people end up giving away way too much money to charities is forgetting that coins are currency, they are money and they do have value. If you give all your coins at the end of every day to carollers, you could end up giving away a substantial amount of money! Instead, if you want to give them money, set aside a budget once again, remember they will keep coming though, so a daily budget could come in handy!