We all make a promise to ourselves not to overspend at Christmas. To be sensible and stick to the budget. Yes, somehow as the big day draws nearer we get swept up in the festivities and find excuses to spend more than we should “because it’s Christmas”.
With the big advertisers ramping up campaigns and the general sense of “keeping up with the Jones’s” it is extremely difficult to keep spending on track.
The only surefire way of getting through the silly season without splashing out is to have some hard and fast rules which you stick to. We’re not saying it’s easy but it is possible, and you will thank yourself for your steadfastness when you reach the new year with your bank balance still intact.
Here are our suggestions on how not to overspend at Christmas.
PLAN AND SAVE EARLY
When we say early, we mean really early, like January! Just think, even if you put aside only $20 a week, you’ll have a nice lump sum ready for your Christmas spending. Set up a bank transfer so it’s automatically moved to a Christmas savings account each week. You’ll barely even think about it … until the present buying begins, and then you will be so grateful to your savvy saver self.
SPREAD THE COST
Don’t wait until a month before Christmas to start the big spend-up. Spread the cost by buying early and stashing away. Make the most of mid-year sales and lay-by. Get your kids to write their lists for Santa nice and early so you buy items as you go, or grab them when they are on sale.
Having a Christmas budget is essential. Sticking to it is even more essential. Again, start early with your budget. Work out exactly what you can afford without putting too much pressure on the purse strings, and set yourself a mission to stay within it, or under it. Make sure you record all your spending so have a true picture of what Christmas is costing you. It will be an eye-opener and a lesson to plan more effectively for the following year.
DON’T GET CARRIED AWAY
It sounds obvious, doesn’t it? None of us intend to get carried away, yet somehow we always do. If you are hesitating over a Christmas purchase, ask whether you really need it, if you could find it cheaper elsewhere, and your reason for buying it. Often, covering off on these questions will clarify the necessity of the purchase and keep your money safely in your bank account.
FIND THE BARGAINS
Why pay more for an item if you can get it cheaper elsewhere? This might take a bit of research but it will be well worth your time. Find out when the big sales are happening such as Black Friday which is an absolute must for pre-Christmas bargains. Keep an eye out for specials on non-perishables and long-life foods at the supermarket and buy what you can at the sale price.
The best way to compare before you buy is to shop online. Simply tap what you’re looking for into your search engine and click “shopping”. You will see where the item is available, and at what cost, alongside delivery expenses. Always dig deeper by heading to the websites as many offer free shipping over a certain spend and have exclusive online codes to reduce the price further.
As Christmas draws nearer everyone shares what they are doing, buying and giving. It is natural to compare and possibly worry if your Christmas plans are not as extravagant as others. Don’t! Focus on your own family and your own budget. This is the crucial time to stick to your hard and fast rules and not to overspend. Instead, think about how good you will feel come January when others are drowning in Christmas debt and you’re already saving for next year.
DO A SECRET SANTA
Doing a Secret Santa with friends and family is a great way to keep the cost of spending down. It will also save you a lot of time and stress! Rather than taking potluck and buying something small for ten people, put more money and thought into just one gift. Secret Santa (also known as Kris Kringle) has always been associated with work/office gift-giving in the past but more and more families are loving them as a way to keep costs down at Christmas.
SHARE THE EXPENSE
Many families and friends get together for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. This is wonderful but if you are hosting it can be super expensive. Make sure no one arrives empty-handed by planning early and telling everyone specifically what you need them to bring. Voila, you will have a whole spread, without having to pay and prepare it all yourself.
We all get carried away by the general excitement of Christmas. This is a dangerous area for overspending. Stay realistic. Yes, we all want the day itself to be special but that doesn’t mean you have to buy four times more food than you eat on any other day, or buy the expensive version of everything. Think about the reality of the day and what it means to your family, then spend based on that rather than trying to replicate a glitzy, glutinous Christmas from the Myer ad.
Whether you are crafty by nature or not, now is the time to learn. You can save lots of money at Christmas by making cards, presents and even Christmas decorations. Get the kids involved and make an activity of it. Best of all, are homemade baked goods such as cookies or cakes. These always get a smile and cost very little to make.
FOCUS ON WHAT REALLY MATTERS
When all else fails and you’re spending is teetering dangerously on the brink of your carefully planned Christmas budget, focus on what really matters. Christmas is a time to spend with family and friends doing what makes you happy. Does that need a shedload of money thrown at it? Or can it be as simple as a yummy spread, board games, Christmas movies, and love for one another at this special time of year?