What’s your plan for managing your finances this Christmas?
“Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas.”Peg Bracken
According to Mastercard, the average person spends around $500 on Christmas presents each year, and many spend a great deal more than that. And that’s before you start counting the grocery and drinks bill, which quickly blow out too.
That’s a lot to shell out when you’re already watching every dollar. On top of that, around 1/3 of us will load up our credit cards to manage seasonal spending. Can’t you just hear the banks rubbing their hands together?
We think Christmas can still be about the spirit of giving without digging your household into a hole of debt.
Here are six great ideas on how to save money at Christmas:
- Donate to a charity in lieu of presents. Even if you gave $100 to charity, that’s still $400 you haven’t spent on gifts! If you can get your family on board, it’s a great way to remain in the giving spirit. Oh, and charity donations are usually tax deductible, so keep your receipts!
- Have fun with a ‘Secret Santa’. As a family, draw a name out of a hat and simply buy a present for one person only, with a set dollar limit. Similar to the charity idea, but your family still gets to open something on Christmas Day. The kids might need a bit more leniency, and will be less than impressed if Santa brings them just the one gift, but do what works for your tribe.
- Focus on the food! Instead of bringing gifts, just tell people you are bringing nana’s famous trifle, or a nice lamb leg for the BBQ. If everyone brings a little something, it shares the financial burden of a Christmas spread and creates an atmosphere of sharing. If you’re creative, bake some Christmas cookies or cupcakes instead of buying a box of chocolates for those “unforeseen arrivals” on Christmas Day. Or, give everyone in your family little jars of your tasty home-made jams or relish. If you are savvy with sourcing your ingredients, this can be really cost effective.
- Ditch the fancy toys for the littlies. Designer clothes might look cute on a 4-year-old, but he doesn’t know the difference, and they won’t even fit in a year or so. As for toys, anyone who’s spent time around small children knows they have an amazing capacity to turn simple toys or ordinary household items into never-ending creative props!
- Write a list, shop early, and stick to it. Impulse and last-minute spending is the easiest way to blow your budget. And retailers are acutely aware of this, strategically placing their impulse items right in your line of sight. Think last-minute purchases, made in a surge of pre-Christmas panic. Knowing in advance what you want to buy, for how much and where from, will see you making only smart purchases that you’ll be proud of later.
- Have a “Christmas & Birthdays” kitty. Work out how much you’d like to have to spend on gifts for the year. Split that into a weekly amount and save that little bit each week throughout the year. If you like cash, put it in a piggy bank you (or any other sticky fingers) can’t open. Or set up a bank account online (one without hefty fees) that doesn’t have a card attached to it, and don’t touch it. Just make sure you choose a method you know you will be able to be disciplined with. Next Christmas you’ll love yourself!
Plan for next year with advice to achieve your financial goals
Did you know Cole Murray provides a complete Financial Planning service, taking into account your individual situation and financial life goals? We can help you reduce your debt faster, and get on top of your finances so that when things like Christmas come around you can relax knowing you’ve got it well under control – giving you more energy for the things that matter.
Feel like you need a plan?
We are here to help you succeed, and would enjoy working through your plan with you (it’s affordable, and delivers more value than you can poke a candy cane at!).