Christmas is a time that is mentally and physically exhausting, regardless of how much you love the holiday season. From increased workloads at the office to the stress of Christmas shopping and managing a tight budget, Christmas is one of the most stressful times of the year, not to mention expensive.
In fact, according to data collected by ASIC’s Money Smart, Australian’s plan to spend $955 over the holiday season, but we all know that Christmas budgeting doesn’t always go according to plan.
ASIC’s Money Smart also reports that on average, Australians spend between $505 and $646 on Christmas gifts, and the two main methods of paying for these gifts is by spending hard-earned savings, or credit card. And sadly, the average credit card debt after the holiday season is $1,666.
Last year, Commonwealth Bank executive general manger Clive Van Horen told the Sydney Morning Herald that 40 per cent of Australian shoppers don’t keep track of their spending over Christmas.
Furthermore, Research by Roy Morgan and the Australian Retailer Association found that Australians were expected to collectively spend more than $50 billion over the Christmas period in 2017/18.
However, there are some small things you can do to keep within your budget this Christmas, and walk out of the festive season with less financial stress than you did last year.
1. Use what you have
Rather than buying all your Christmas decorations, wreaths, wrapping paper and other miscellaneous festive things new each year, reuse what you’ve already got in storage.
2. Be thrifty
When it comes to wrapping paper, rather than spending money on gorgeous printed paper stock from trendy boutiques, pick up some brown craft paper and dress it up with twine or a small ornament from your Christmas decorations stash. Alternatively, get imaginative and use fabrics, music paper, newspaper, posters or other things you already have at home, and dress them all up with ribbon or yarn.
3. Make the menu simple
When it comes to Christmas, many of us are prone to cooking fancy recipes and extra dishes, making much more food that you and your guests can eat. Instead, simplify your menu with a great Christmas ham, some seasonal veggies, fresh bread, and a classic pavlova to finish it all off. It’s all about celebrating family.
If you’re hosting the family Christmas gathering, and are expecting a large number of guests, delegate some of the food and desserts out to family and friends. Generally speaking, guests love to bring something and contribute in some way to the meal. So when they ask what they should bring (and they will), suggest things like a bottle of wine, salads, cheese platters, a dessert or something for the kids.
5. Set a limit
Set a spend limit per person for gifts, and stick to it. Should you feel the need to add to the gifts, consider making something like cookies, gingerbread or other baked goodies from ingredients you already have a home. If your family is more into Secret Santa or Kris Kringle gifting, make sure everyone agrees on a spending limit.
6. Unsubscribe from mailing lists and unfollow retailers online
Reading an email newsletter from shops that advertise ‘amazing savings’ or ‘Christmas sales’ can be enough to lure you into buying things you don’t need. Ditto for their social media accounts like Facebook or Instagram. If you know you can’t resist a sale, unsubscribe or unfollow to remove the temptation.
7. Get organised early
The earlier you start planning, the better. This way when you spot sales on food or baking ingredients at the supermarket you can make the most of the discounted prices, and tuck them away for later. Similarly, if you already know what you’re buying family and friends for Christmas, getting in early means you can do your research online, and a different stores, to ensure you’re getting the best price.
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