We know Christmas is all about giving, but for many people it’s also a time of financial stress, as our desire to be generous loosens our grip on the purse strings.
Nobody wants to be a scrooge at this time of the year, nor do they want to rack up a huge credit card bill that will take you the rest of the year to pay off. Setting a budget for Christmas gifts is a good start, but it’s all the other Christmas extras that can do the damage to your credit card swipe after swipe.
With a little forward-planning and thought there are plenty of ways to make this a memorable Christmas without a mega price tag. Along the way, you might also discover that changing the way you do Christmas could be the start of some new family traditions
Here are our top tips to keep the cost down and the Christmas spirit high:
Avoid impulse purchases.
Christmas shopping puts us in a spending mood that can encourage us to buy things for ourselves as well as others while out shopping. Eliminate the possibility of over spending by avoiding wandering aimlessly through shopping malls. Make a list, stick to it and set a fixed amount of time to shop. Or avoid the malls altogether by planning ahead and shopping online.
Remember to budget for extra gifts.
It’s easy to forget about all the little ‘somethings’ that have a way of adding up, like gifts for teachers, friends, neighbours and all the other people we often like to thank at the end of the year. It’s those last minute gifts that can do the damage to the budget, so take a minute now to sit down and think of all the people you need to buy for.
Now cull that list!
Ask yourself if it’s really necessary to buy for so many people. Over the years you may have got into the habit of exchanging gifts with friends which can become a big expense, especially when they have kids! Maybe this is the year to call a truce. Tell them that your gift to them is taking some of the pressure off … that you don’t expect gifts from them and not to expect them from you!
Bake and make.
In the mad dash to Christmas, it’s great to take time out and set aside a weekend to get baking and making: Christmas cookies, jams, chutneys, jars of roasted nuts are all great gifts.
Gift your time or skill.
Sometimes the best gifts don’t need wrapping. How about gifting a few night’s babysitting, an afternoon’s gardening, a meal delivered on the night of their choosing, or something else that you’re good at.
Make your own decorations and wrapping paper.
Instead of buying expensive Christmas paper how about designing your own? Find a local supplier of plain craft paper, cut out Christmas stencils and get spraying. Or get your kids painting … kid’s art makes great wrapping paper.
Organise a Secret Santa.
As families grow, the Christmas pressie list does too. Talk to your extended family about breaking with tradition and limiting gifts to one gift each. Or put some effort into thinking of some fun games to play on Christmas day instead of the focus being all about presents.
Start a new family tradition.
Keeping up traditions is great, but not if they’re putting you into the red. All traditions have to start somewhere, so come up with some new ones that don’t cost a fortune. Talk to your family about what matters most and ask them for ideas about what they’d like to do different!
The whole team at Nectar Home Loans | Hunter wishes you and your family a happy Christmas filled with love and a fantastic New Year. xx