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Budgeting for Christmas

Our tips for saving this festive season.

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The festive season is on the way and for most of us that can mean a financially stressful time. When you factor in gifts, food, outings and other expenses that happen around Christmas, there are can be a lot of outgoings!

But with the help of a budget and a little pre-planning, Christmas can be cool and cost-effective. Here are some popular top tips.

3 festive saving tips

  1. Work out a rough budget for Christmas and New Year – including gifts, food and other items
  2. Break it down into chunks and start putting it away each week or month, so you’re prepared rather than in a panic when the festive season rolls around
  3. Avoid using buy-now-pay-later services, which can encourage you to spend more than you may have budgeted for.

Buying gifts

Here are some tips and tricks for ensuring gift-giving is both thrifty and fun.

Family Secret Santa. Pop the names of all family members into a hat and ensure everyone chooses a name. Set a spending limit to stick to, and buy a gift for one person instead of multiple!

Set a limit. A great way to cut down on gift-buying costs is for everyone to agree to stick to the same budget. If you have a large family, that might be $10 or $20 per gift.

Wait for the sales. Battling the crowds to buy all your presents in December isn’t just stressful; it’s expensive, too! Instead, wait for retail sales throughout the year and buy gifts on sale to put away for Christmas.

Buy secondhand. Don’t want to contribute more plastic to landfill? Make a family rule that gifts can only be from second-hand stores or charity shops. It’s a lot cheaper and you’d be surprised at the unique and amazing presents you’ll unearth.

Sustainable gifts. Gifting experiences or up-cycled gifts (i.e. made from recycled materials) is one way to ensure guilt-free gifting this Christmas!

Free or low-cost gifts

On a tighter budget than most? Here are a few solutions.

Give DIY gifts. People love edible treats – so why not whip up a batch of rocky road or pesto and decant into sterilised jars with a homemade tag and a little festive ribbon? Similarly, green thumbs with an overflowing herb garden could replant herbs into pots for DIY gifts.

Swap skills as gifts. Perhaps your mum is an organisational whiz and you’re a great cook. Why not offer to gift your services? She can declutter and organise your wardrobe while you cook her up a week’s worth of frozen meals.

Offer experiences. Plan a picnic, offer a massage or think up another ‘free’ experience you could organise that your loved one would be thrilled to receive in lieu of a store-bought gift.

Ways to spend less this Christmas.

Feeding the masses

It’s not just Christmas dinner that can be expensive – it’s all the meals, snacks and drinks leading up to it that need to be factored in. Staying on budget with food is all in the planning (and delegating!).

Get military about your menus. Plan for all the meals required over the entire festive season, factoring in the amount of guests and the food and drinks required. Think about how you might use leftovers for other meals, and shop your pantry so you don’t buy ingredients you already have.

Set a budget and stick to it. And try to pay for purchases in cash so you don’t go over budget when grocery shopping.

Be a smart shopper. Wait for things to go on special. Meat can be bought on special and in bulk and frozen. You can also buy discounted non-perishables like chips, nuts and other nibbles and drinks and store them for the big day.

Allocate dishes to family members. If everyone brings a dish, that’ll significantly cut down on overall costs. You could also ask guests to BYO to save you buying all the drinks.

Think sustainable

Here are some tips to ensure your Christmas is eco-friendly.

Use a live tree. A potted Christmas tree looks beautiful, smells divine and it can be recycled – whereas plastic trees will eventually end up in landfill.

Shop locally. Doing this reduces your ‘shopping miles’, helping minimise the energy expenditure and emissions that go into transporting food large distances and contribute to climate change. Supporting local suppliers and buying direct at markets all help.

Reuse where possible. Give wrapping paper, ribbon and decorations new life every year and save.

This article is intended to provide general information of an educational nature only. This information has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.

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