With Christmas right around the corner, your weekends may be filled with shopping, holiday parties, and getting your home ready for the holiday season. It’s an expensive time of year, with the average Australian predicted to spend $593 on Christmas presents alone.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday cheer and let your budget go out the window, you don’t have to spend another January steeped in credit card debt. It’s important to be smart with your money at this time of year and to make sure you’re not spending more than you can afford.
As the saying goes, it really is the thought that counts. Sure, those gifts and decorations might be nice, but the true spirit of the holidays is being there with your friends and family.
This silly season, be smart about your spending. Keep reading for tips on how to how to save big this holiday season so you can avoid Christmas debt.
1. Set a Silly Season Budget
Before you do anything else, decide who you’ll be buying for this year and how much you want to spend on each person. By creating a budget and breaking it down into presents vs. entertainment costs, you’ll get a better idea of what you’re up for this year so you can budget accordingly.
Setting a budget is the best way to avoid overspending on Christmas, but watch out for these common holiday budget mistakes:
- Too tight – A lot of people mistakenly set their budget too tight. They might be unrealistic with how much they should allocate for each gift. Be sure to leave some extra wiggle room just in case.
- Forgetting the smaller costs – This season isn’t just about gifts! You’ll want to also think about party costs as well such as decorations, food and drinks. There’s also gift wrap, holiday events, and so on. These things add up so include them in your budget!
- Not being flexible – Finally, remember that it’s sometimes better to disobey your budget. For example, if your budget is $50, but you find the perfect gift for $30, don’t feel the need to spend another $20 on something else – just leave it at that.
As long as you’re careful about these mistakes above, you should avoid the dreaded Christmas debt. Create your budget as early as possible so you have enough time to prepare.
2. Track Your Spending
How closely do you look at the money you spend? Your budget doesn’t mean much if you don’t actually stick to it! There are a lot of ways you can track your spending during the holiday season to make sure your budget stays intact.
First, you can use a spending and budgeting app that tracks your spending automatically. You can also set savings goals in these apps to make sure you’re ready for the season of giving. Another option is to create a separate Christmas fund in its own dedicated bank account. This helps you separate holiday spending from everyday spending.
Finally, you can also keep it old-school with a spreadsheet or a physical budget and tracker. Just make sure you’re keeping it updated!
3. Sell Your Things for Extra Cash
For a little extra padding in your budget this holiday season, sell items you no longer need through Gumtree, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay. You can even try a good old-fashioned garage sale!
It’s all about looking for ways to find some extra cash during this holiday season. Plus, you’re helping others land a great deal on things they might be shopping for.
4. DIY Your Cards, Wrapping Paper, and Gifts
You don’t have to spend a fortune on brand new store-bought items! This is especially true for wrapping paper and cards. Save big this year instead with homemade cards (if you have kids this is the perfect craft for them!), ecards, or wrapping paper that can be used all year round. Butcher paper and twine is always a great go-to, and they look really great on any gift.
A DIY gift may be a great option as well such as making baked goods, candles, or bath salts. You can also offer to babysit, make a home-cooked meal, or clean the house for a loved one with a handmade gift voucher. These are thoughtful gifts that show you really care.
5. Find Christmas Deals Online
Did you know you can find the best deals online compared to in-store? Make sure to subscribe to all of your favorite brand’s email marketing, as you get clued in to all their upcoming sales and free shipping offers. Sometimes they even have different offers through their social media channels, so be sure to get social with them as well.
These online deals can be worth a pretty penny in savings, so don’t forget to check online before buying in-store. You never know what type of savings you might find! If you find a great deal online, don’t be afraid to ask for a price match. Many stores offer this nowadays so it’s definitely worth asking.
6. Try a New Gift Exchange
Giving gifts to everyone in your family adds up quickly. You could always switch up the family gifting tradition this year by going for a secret Santa or white elephant exchange – that way you’re only buying one gift instead of five, six, seven or more.
Another option is a kid’s only Christmas, where you only buy presents for the children in your family/extended family. This can help the adults cut down on extra spending while still making sure the kids all have a great silly season.
7. Host a Christmas Potluck
If you’re hosting Christmas lunch or dinner, ask everyone to bring a dish rather than splurging for the entire meal yourself. This gives everyone a chance to contribute, takes the stress out of having to prepare everything, and is great for your budget too!
Having a Christmas potluck is such a fun tradition, and this way everyone gets to bring their favorite dish. You can get creative by having one guest bring the paper goods, one bring drinks, and so on.
8. Look for Discounts
When shopping in-store, make sure to ask the sales associates about any deals they have coming up. There may be a sale in the next few days that you can take advantage of – patience pays off!
Similarly, coupon apps like Groupon offer you access to local deals and discounts for a wide range of products & services – definitely worth checking out before you go through the check-out.
Another idea is to visit your local outlet mall for great deals on the brands you know your friends and family love already. Visiting a thrift store is another option if you’re a savvy shopper.
9. Pay in Cash
When was the last time you paid with cash? While it’s definitely easier to swipe your card, paying with cash is a really effective way to limit yourself. It’s a visual reminder of what you have, and once it’s gone, it’s gone.
You can take this one step further and even leave your cards at home so there’s no temptation to overspend. Paying in cash keeps you from using your credit cards or savings to buy those special gifts.
10. Go In on a Gift With Someone
Sometimes big gifts can feel too expensive to afford on your own. In these cases, it’s a good idea to go in on a gift with someone. When you decide to split a gift with someone else, you can get a bigger gift for that special someone without spending as much money.
This is a good idea if you’re planning a large gift for someone special. Things like electronics, furniture, and so on can be really special, but they come with a big price tag. Combining your funds together makes these things more affordable for everyone.
11. Include the Kids
Another way to avoid Christmas debt and overspending on Christmas is to include the kids. If your children are old enough, let them contribute to the cost of gifts for their friends or grandparents.
Not only will this help teach them the value of money, but they’ll also feel great knowing they helped out. You can also include the kids in gift-giving by encouraging them to make something special for their loved ones rather than spending money. This is a great activity to do together!
This Silly Season It’s the Thought That Counts
You don’t need to break the bank to show your friends and family how much you care. It can be really tempting to overspend during the Christmas season, but it truly is the thought that counts. With a bit of preparation and creativity, you can have a memorable holiday season and head into the new year with your budget intact.
For other ways to save over the silly season, check these tips for how to keep your kids entertained over the holidays without blowing your budget.
If you need help managing your finances over the silly season, get prepared and contact our friendly team on 1300 368 322. We’ve helped thousands of Australians achieve financial freedom and we’d love to help you this holiday season.