For the past couple of years, we have encouraged our clients to start a Christmas savings plan early, as well as to shop throughout the year to avoid the Christmas spending crunch come December. Let’s be realistic, while many agree that it is a good idea in theory, the thought of Christmas 12 months down the track while you’re still recovering from the Christmas just gone is non-existent.
So, here we are at December and your head is now just starting to think about what you need to do, and the costs involved to be prepared in time for December 25. Our team have complied a list of ideas to cut Christmas spending and avoid the money hangover in the new year.
Be honest and be realistic
Set a budget first, then create a specific list of everyone you need to buy for. Then add items such as food and drinks, decorations, gifts, parties, catch ups and the expected costs.
How does this compare to your budget? Slightly skewed? We’re not going to ask you to try and meet your budget, instead we are going to suggest you look at your list objectively.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a crazy good feast. The only thing is that it also comes with a crazy price tag. Start with looking at what you are planning on cooking/eating. Write a specific list of everything you intend on cooking and the ingredients. Now check your pantry and cross off anything you already have. Far too often we buy duplicate groceries when they are already in the cupboard. Similar rules apply for drinks – are you really going to drink 6 cases of beer, 6 bottles of wine and 2 x 24 cans of soft drink?
Also, if you’re having a larger gathering, ask everyone to bring a dish, drinks or nibbles but be specific with what you allocate. That way there will be no double ups and it reduces the pressure on you and your family, not only from a cost perspective but also from a time and cooking perspective.
Then, review your gift giving list, the hardest part here is being cutthroat – we know that sounds very anti-Christmas – but start crossing people off your list. Do you really need to buy a gift for the building manager or your work colleagues? It is the season of giving but giving gifts that people don’t really want or need just ends up as money down the drain.
Give gifts with sentiment, not because of feeling obliged.
Having said that, if you want to get gifts for teachers or your boss, considering buying in bulk to save time. Think of gifts that will get used, such as movie vouchers, pre-paid visa cards or hampers.
Secret Santa is a great way to minimise the number of gifts that you have to buy. There are websites which distribute Secret Santa names to your group but also allow you to set a limit and participants can also create their own wish list.
Alternatively, as the saying goes – it’s the thought that counts. Opt to not give gifts, instead agree with your family and/or friends to make a donation to charity. This can be within your own budget and is supporting much needed causes.
Shop around. Most shops will price match, so also check the price to make sure you can’t get it anywhere else cheaper, if you can, be sure to negotiate. Another trick with online shopping, if you leave it in your cart long enough, online retailers automatically give you a discount to increase their chances of a sale.