Whether you celebrate it or not, Christmas is a happy time of year full of holiday festivities. And if you plan ahead, you can avoid a New Year budget hangover when the bills arrive.
Here are seven tips to help you scale back on the festive season expenses.
1. Plan well ahead
This may seem obvious but once you have a plan and a budget, you have to stick to it to make it work. Divide your spending into the major categories of gifts, catering, entertainment and travel–list the necessary items in each.
Work out how much you will have to spend overall then you can put a spending cap on each category.
Set up a special Christmas bank account and put money into it each week or use a regular auto payment option from your pay so you are not tempted to spend it.
Start savings as early as possible. It could be worthwhile starting a savings plan as an option to help you reach your savings goals sooner.
3. Decide who is naughty and nice
First draw up a gift list so you can edit it if you need to, then work out the cost per item.
Consider giving thoughtful gifts such as a voucher for a home-cooked meal, lawn, garden or home handyman work to save money.
Talk to friends and family about having a spending cap per gift. A ‘Secret Santa’ is perfect for work teams or bigger families as you buy only one bigger gift for someone in the group rather than buying for everyone.
4. Shop smart
Have a shopping list, as it’s easy to spend too much if you don’t have clear goals.
When you find something you like, be smart, compare prices and be prepared to bargain or at least ask if the shop will match cheaper prices elsewhere.
Pick up bargains in the sales during the year and put them aside. Reasonable alternatives for cheaper shopping are outlet stores if you can get to them.
Avoid last-minute shopping as it can result in rushed and expensive decisions.
Above all, make sure your head rules your heart and you stick to buying what you can afford.
5. Plan your meals
Christmas can be a time of overindulgence. Plan ahead so you don’t waste food or money.
Work out what events you will be catering and estimate a budget for each. Can you ask others to contribute by bringing a dish or drinks?
Yuletide treats such as Christmas cakes and puddings can actually improve with age, so you can make them ahead of time.
If you’re stuck for ideas, try some online meal planners.
6. Easy money savers
Look for savings around the home. Re-use decorations from previous years or consider making your own rather than buying them.
School holiday prices can be expensive so this is a good time to use any discounted tickets or special deals to popular attractions such as theme parks, movies and zoos. And don’t forget a packed lunch will save you money too.
Try breaking up the school holiday boredom with free activities such as a treasure hunt around the house, a crafts day or a family cooking session.
7. Get away and travel smarter
The holiday season is one of the most expensive times to travel as higher demand for transport and accommodation push prices up, so it may be worth considering house swapping or a staycation.
There are plenty of ways to take a break without breaking the bank.
Above all - enjoy the silly season!
Source - AMP