Are you looking for ways to keep your costs down this Christmas?

You are not alone.

Christmas expenses are crazy, and sometimes unnecessary. In fact, according to consumer comparison site, Finder.com:

“The average Australian spends $1,350 on Christmas. That brings the nation’s total holiday-related expenditure to $25 billion.”

Add to this the single parenting gig, and you might be feeling more frantic than festive.

We have twelve suggestions on how to have an enjoyable Christmas without blowing the budget.

  1. DO A SIMPLE BUDGET AND STICK TO IT

You can’t stick to a budget unless you create one, and this is easier than you think.

Head to Google and search Christmas Budget Template, then click the images tab. Scroll through and find the template that best works for you and your financial requirements.

Take time to complete your budget template deciding how much you can realistically spend on each item.

Use this budget as your guide between now and Christmas. Make sure stick to it and you can enjoy the festive season knowing you haven’t overspent.

  1. PLAN EARLY

Like with everything, the earlier you plan, the more organised you will be.

If you are co-parenting this Christmas make arrangements with your ex-partner early so you know what you’ll be doing and what you need to pay for. Then, include the costs on your budget.

Last minute plans can be pricey if you are rushing to get things organised or buying last minutes gifts and food.

  1. SPREAD THE COSTS

If you know what you need for Christmas several months prior, you can get buying nice and early to spread the cost.

This will definitely alleviate the pressure come Christmas and may even allow you to get a few extra treats.

Many stores have mid-year sales so shop these and stash your goodies away for a few months. Alternatively, use the lay-by service to grab the deals when they are happening and pay-off in instalments.

Spread the cost as much as you can for Christmas presents and non-perishable food items.

  1. DON’T BORROW

We will make this perfectly clear: Do not borrow money to pay for Christmas.

Whether this is from a bank, a personal loan service, friends or family.

Instead make Christmas work on the money you have available. If you find this is not enough, start saving early for next Christmas to prevent it happening the following year.

Borrowing over the festive period can seriously dampen Christmas cheer and will get your new year off to a financially frustrating start, leaving you badly positioned for next Christmas.

  1. SHOP ONLINE

Yet another reason to be organised and plan early, is to shop online and have everything delivered to your door.

Although price tags in store and online are generally the same, shopping online will save you money on fuel, parking and other unnecessary items you might be tempted to buy whilst instore.

Plus, you can get some great offers online and delivery is often free or free over a certain spending amount.

  1. REAP YOUR REWARDS

The lead up to Christmas is a key time to check your point balance on your rewards cards such as FlyBuys and Everyday Rewards.

If you have been dutifully scanning your card at the checkout throughout the past year you might have enough points to purchase presents, food and drink for free, or to put points towards the costs.

This goes for credit cards or any other incentive schemes you are part of.

  1. BUY AND SELL SECOND-HAND

Buying second-hand items is growing in popularity, so why not buy second-hand for Christmas? According to articles on Forbes:

“The secondhand market is projected to double in the next five years, to hit $51 billion.”

It seems that everyone is doing it, so why not you?

There are some brilliant bargains to be found in op shops and market stalls. It might involve a bit more rummaging around but the huge discount for the perfect item will be well-worth it.

At the same time, use the months leading up to Christmas to have a clear-out at home. You can give unwanted clothes, furniture, toys and books to charity. Or alternatively, sell them online and make some cash for your own Christmas budget.

Second-hand shopping is a win-win for everyone, especially at Christmas.

  1. MAKE STUFF

Christmas is great time to get crafty and it saves money too!

Spend quality time with your children making decorations, cards and gifts. A homemade gift comes from the heart and will give lots of pleasure to the lucky recipient. Here are some websites for inspiration:

100 Mind-blowing Christmas gifts people actually want

78 DIY Christmas decorations to make your home merry and bright

42 Best handmade DIY Christmas card ideas for your holiday greetings this year

This goes for food too. You will definitely save if you plan and cook your festive feast from scratch, rather than buying ready-made from the store. And again, your kids will be only too happy to get mixing with you in the kitchen.

  1. DON’T OVERDO IT ON THE DAY

It is really common to get carried away and blow your carefully planned Christmas budget on the day itself.

For this reason, act with caution when it comes to spending for Christmas Day.

If you are hosting a crowd, be realistic about how many people you will be entertaining and how much food they will actually need. Encourage guests to bring a plate as well as their choice of drink.

Yes, it’s nice to go a little fancy with your meals and buy those treats you would otherwise resist but think before you spend. Make sure what you do buy can be used for leftovers or frozen for eating another time.

  1. GET THE GIFTS RIGHT

Many of us have a tendency to over-buy at Christmas. Especially for our children.

Overcome this by leaving yourself plenty of time to get the gifts right. Don’t give for the sake of giving, instead chose gifts that will be useful and used.

A trend that has taken off on social media over the last few years is the “Four Gift Rule” for children. This is where parents gift their children only four presents at Christmas following these rules:

“Something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.”

Even if you don’t follow this exactly it is a good guide for buying great gifts that cover all your child’s wants and needs, without getting carried away.

Also, carefully consider “gimmick” gifts before buying. Yes, they are great stocking fillers but how much entertainment will they really provide before being pushed aside? If it’s not going to be used long-term it simply isn’t worth the dollars or cents spent.

  1. DON’T COMPETE

Yet another Christmas trap for parents to carefully avoid is competition!

Every parent will get the “but everyone is my class is getting a phone/games console this Christmas”.

Firstly, it is likely not the truth, even if your child genuinely thinks so. Secondly, close down the walls and focus on your own family and your personal level of spending.

We all want our children to be sparkly-eyed with happiness on Christmas morning when they open the gift of their dreams but teaching them about value and spending within limits is more important in the long-run. As is not scrimping and saving for the next year as you overspent at Christmas to keep up with the Jones’s.

  1. TIME YOUR TRAVEL

We all love to holiday at Christmas, but it can be expensive.

If you are desperate to get a break during the holidays, book early to avoid disappointment and hiked up rates. Also, consider camping or staying with family or friends to keep costs down.

It is a good idea to save your travel plans for less pricey times of year when there are not as many people trying to get away and ultimately travel premium are less.

Belinda Eldridge
Posted by Belinda Eldridge
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