Managing Your Finances over the Festive Season
March 27, 2016

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Managing Your Finances over the Festive Season

With Christmas on its way, you’ve got plenty of good cheer in store, including reunions with old friends, home decorations, and lots of delicious food. But it’s easy to get caught up in the hype and see a significant drain on your hard-earned savings.

Debt can quickly pile up over the festive season, particularly with some overzealous gift buying and a few too many nights out with friends. We’ve put together five easy-to-follow tips for keeping your Christmas spending under wraps this year, and not feeling the hangover well into the New Year.

christmas spending

Manage your gift buying closely

No one will argue with the gift-buying culture that thrives at Christmas time. After all, we all love a good present. Plus giving gifts is also pretty rewarding.

But gift buying is one of the main areas people go overboard each Christmas. We find ourselves spending more than we can really afford or expect to impress our friends and family. The reality is a more expensive gift doesn’t always mean a better one, and with some thought and creative thinking you can buy beautiful gifts without overspending.

Before you start shopping, list everyone you need to buy for, and estimate expenses on each person. If the total costs are too extravagant, revisit the list and re-evaluate the budget. It sounds clinical, but it will help your wallet in the long run. Having a few ideas for each person will also stop you spending more on an unplanned present.

Shop smart and research the best places to buy online and in store. Researching helps you find the best prices and saves you money. If you’re buying gifts for workmates, bulk buy a special gift and distribute one to each colleague.

A Kris Kringle is a great way to save time and money with your family, so instead of everyone shopping for everyone, set a maximum pressie budget and assign one (surprise) person per participant. This also means you can put a lot of thought into just the one present and spend a little more than usual so they get something they will really love.

Plan your function spending ahead of time

The thing about Christmas is there are loads of functions to attend, including family events, barbecues with friends and corporate Christmas parties with your entire office, plus the smaller one with just your team. And, these functions get expensive.

Plan your social calendar so you know how many events you have coming up, what will and won’t be provided at each event, and how much you’d like to spend, including food, drinks, and a taxi ride home. Make sure you set yourself a budget for each night out and stick to it. New Years and Australia Day are still to come! And whatever you do, do not hand over your credit card at the bar.

Share the load when it comes to hosting

If you’re hosting Christmas day lunch, or even an event coming up to Christmas, don’t be afraid to ask your guests to bring a plate. A Christmas day feast can cost hundreds of dollars, so if you’re hosting, supply the turkey or a ham and maybe a few veggies, and get everyone else to bring the rest!

Every family member has their specialty, whether it’s desserts, salads or meat dishes. Encourage them to bring entrees or even a bottle of wine to lighten the load so you can concentrate on the pièce de résistance.

There is ALWAYS enough food, so try not to over cater. Even if you think you’ve got the bare minimum and everyone’s going to go home starving, cast your mind back to the leftovers from last year.

Cheap and easy family activities

If you’re lucky enough to have some time off over the festive season to spend time with your family and kids, there’s no need to go overboard with expensive family catch ups, especially when you’re already spending money on gifts and food!

Try planning a few of these fun activities with your friends, families and children. None of them will break the bank:

  • Take public transport into the city to enjoy the Christmas decorations and festivities.
  • Organise a barbecue in the park with your children and a few of their (and your!) friends. Everyone brings a plate or some meat.
  • Head down to the beach for the day. Pack some sandwiches into an esky and keep a few dollars free for ice-cream on the way home.
  • Two words: backyard cricket!

Avoid your credit card

Lock it up and throw away the key! Well, at least until after the New Year.

Credit cards and Christmas may seem like the best of friends but they’re actually the worst of enemies and can get you into serious trouble if you push their relationship too far. As we said before, don’t hand your credit card over at the bar (unless you’ve got the dosh to shout a round, in that case – go you!), and leave it at home when you go gift shopping.

The basic tip – only spend what you can afford. Using your credit card is the perfect way to trick yourself into doing the opposite.

Now you’ve got your budgeting under control, remember to enjoy the festive season! Drive safe, don’t drink too much, and give all your friends and family a big hug and tell them you love them, because after all that’s what it’s really about.

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