Although it is only July I am already thinking about Christmas! It is my favourite time of the year and a great opportunity to spend time with family and friends. For many people Christmas can be very expensive and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Here are my 5 tips to help you have a budget friendly Christmas this year:
Tip 1: Set a Christmas spending budget
It is so easy to spend like crazy during the holiday season so it is important to set a budget (preferably before you start your Christmas shopping). Your budget may include expenses such as gifts, groceries, travel expenses, entertainment, (who doesn’t love going to the cinema on Boxing Day to see the latest movie!), eating out and charitable donations. Depending on your employment you may be taking unpaid leave during the holiday season so you can also factor this into your budget.
Tip 2: Start saving for your Christmas budget
Now that you have set your Christmas budget you can calculate how much you need to save each week to make sure you have enough saved by Christmas.
I have set myself a Christmas budget of $1,000. As at the date of this blog there are 22 weeks until Christmas so I need to save $45 per week to achieve my goal. ($1000 divided by 22 week= $45 per week).
I have set up an automatic bank transfer from my main bank account to another account called Christmas savings. Because it is automatic I don’t need to remember to make the transfer each week, it is so easy and by Christmas time I will have the savings I need to cover all of my Christmas expenses.
The earlier you start saving for Christmas the less you will need to save each week so start saving now!
Tip 3: Make a list
Just like Santa Claus is making his list and checking it twice, you too should start making a Christmas list of everything you need to purchase and things you need to do in preparation for Christmas.
When making your Christmas list you can keep the following in mind:
- Who you are buying gifts for and the budget for each gift
- Where will your Christmas lunch/dinner be held?
- Are you hosting Christmas festivities? Do you have everything you need to host?
- Do you need Christmas decorations (for me, I need a new Christmas tree!)
- Are you travelling for Christmas? Do you need to book flights and/or accommodation?
Making the Christmas list can help you to determine if your Christmas budget is realistic.
It can also be useful when listing everyone you need to buy gifts for. If your family is large you could consider a Secret Santa system where each person picks one person to buy a gift for, so each person still receives a gift but it saves everyone from buying multiple gifts.
Tip 4: Start your Christmas shopping early
Now that you have your budget, a savings plan and a list of everything you need to purchase you can start your Christmas shopping.
The earlier you start your Christmas shopping the less stressful Christmas will be. No-one wants to be running around the grocery store at 5pm on Christmas Eve fighting over the last punnet of cherries because shopping was left to the last minute!
Here are some tips to save money by starting your Christmas shopping early:
- Buying Christmas decorations after Christmas when they are drastically reduced
- Buy non-perishable food for your Christmas feast in the months before Christmas when they are on sale
- Buy in bulk at stores such as Costco and Aldi
- Look out for gifts in the months before Christmas to take advantage of sales and clearances
- Use coupons and discount codes when shopping online for gifts
- If you are posting gifts do it early so you don’t have to pay for last minute express postage
- Book flights and accommodation in advance, the longer you wait the more expensive it will become
- Use Facebook Buy, Swap, Sell pages – people in your area may be selling brand new or slightly used items for a fraction of the price, because it is local you can save on postage/shipping costs.
Tip 5: Remember the true meaning of Christmas
Christmas isn’t about how many presents are under the Christmas tree or how big the Christmas feast it. It is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is a time to spend with your family and friends, to enjoy doing the things you love and reflect on the year you have had and the year ahead.
Spending time with the ones you love doesn’t cost anything. I am sure there are plenty of activities you can do in your local area that are cheap or free. Now is a great time to think about activities you would like to do during the holiday season. It could be baking Christmas treats for a local homeless shelter, spending time with an elderly neighbour or starting a new holiday tradition with your family.
Enjoy planning for your budget friendly Christmas friends.