The holiday season is officially in full swing. If you’re like many others at this time of year, you only see the dollar signs. Indeed, ‘tis the season to give, but it’s also a season for smart spending. While it’s certainly fun to give presents to your loved ones, that doesn’t mean you have to go all-out on expensive gifts.
As a country, Australia loves to get behind the spirit of Christmas. Unfortunately, that spirit comes at a steep price—and with expensive regrets. Last year, Australians spent a combined $11 billion on Christmas presents. The average person pays around $593 a holiday season.
The true spirit of Christmas isn’t about spending the most. It’s about finding ways to create memories with your family. That’s something that doesn’t have a big price tag. Read through this guide to spending wisely this season so you can do Christmas on budget.
1. Create a Christmas Budget
If you don’t have a Christmas budget, it’s easy to go overboard. Remember, the most important parts of the holidays are family, kindness, and giving back. These things are always free. Of course, it’s kind to purchase thoughtful gifts, but don’t feel pressured to reach any particular dollar amount to “show” how much you care.
Set a budget that’s realistic. You might set a cap on your total gift budget, or you might limit the amount per each person on your list. Allocating funds for each person is also a great way to make everyone feel equally cared for this holiday season. Don’t forget to include any unexpected costs like gift wrap, travel expenses, or holiday party costs in your budget.
2. Keep Track of Your Spending
We’ve all been there. You’re walking through your favorite department store. You see it all decked out for the holidays. Amidst your favorite seasonal jingles, you’ve lost track of just how much you’ve added to your cart. Before you know it, you’ve blown your entire budget for the season in one go.
Keeping track of your spending is key to doing Christmas on budget. If you’re more technical, create a spreadsheet that tracks how much you’ve spent so far and how much of your budget you have left. You can also try a money managing app to keep your balance in check while you’re on the go.
3. Try Your Hand at DIY
Let’s face it: we aren’t all DIY gurus. It’s completely okay if you’re not a knitting pro or the best at making your own holiday cards. There are other ways you can DIY this season to save on costs. While handmade gifts are always special, try any of these tips below to create your own Christmas cheer on a budget:
- Gift Wrap – Stop overpaying for pricey gift wrap and embrace DIY methods! You can reuse gift wrap you already have or use just about anything around your home that gets the job done. Newspaper, brown shopping bags, and even fabric all make cute holiday wrap and cost little to nothing.
- Holiday Decor – Decorating for the holidays is half the fun, but it’s even better at half the cost. Create your own wreath with old Christmas ornaments. Make your own advent calendar from reused wrapping paper and holiday candies. These small activities also make the best family traditions.
- Cards – Sharing cards is a great way to show you care at this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you have to drop big bucks on expensive paper. Make your own cards or write heartfelt notes to your loved ones. Your family will cherish them more than any card from the store.
4. Look for Sales
It’s true the holiday season isn’t the best time to find sales. However, if you know how to shop wisely, you can save a pretty penny. It’s always worth looking for a coupon or waiting until something goes on sale. Some stores also charge less than others, so shop around to get a great deal on your holiday must-haves.
The best way to get a bargain is to start shopping early. The earlier you prepare your gifts, the more time you’ll have to snag the best deal. Nobody wants to get caught off guard by the high prices right before Christmas day. The earlier you start shopping, the better. Plus, you won’t have to worry about the pre-holiday stress of finding things at the last minute.
5. New Family Traditions
Sometimes it pays to think of new family traditions with your budget in mind. Your new tradition might be to play Secret Santa with your gifts this year. With Secret Santa, you each find special items for one person and there’s no need to budget for several people. Your new tradition might also be a family-style potluck with your neighbors instead of every household going overboard with meal planning.
Finally, this is the best time of the year to include charity in your family tradition. Even if you’re struggling financially, there’s always someone out there in need of help at this time of year. Your whole family can take part in charity by contributing to a toy drive, volunteering, or baking treats for your neighbors. We could all focus a bit more on others during the Christmas season.
Christmas on Budget
It’s easy to find yourself in the cycle of overspending this holiday season. Master the art of Christmas on a budget this year with the tips above. At the end of the year, you’ll remember the memories you made more than the things you bought.
Do you need help getting your spending on track? At Debt Busters, we have over 15 years of experience helping Australians get a second chance at their finances. Contact us today to talk about your options. This holiday season, you’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to your spending.