Christmas is a joyous time of year where we come together with family and friends to enjoy and celebrate the season.
If we’re not careful though and without the proper planning, it can become a financial burden that you could be paying off well after the Christmas tree is packed away and the relatives have gone home.
Here are a few simple tips to manage your Christmas finances.
Understand what you’ve got to spend
It’s important to know what you’ve got to play with before you start spending. Many people like to set aside a few dollars in a separate savings account each week throughout the year to ensure they have a bank of money to spend on Christmas activities. This will definitely give you a head start come this time of year.
What’s your plan?
While circumstances can change as we get closer to Christmas, set yourself a plan for what you need or want to spend money on. Who do you need to buy presents for? Are you hosting or attending Christmas parties? What’s the plan for Christmas Day? Is a holiday on the cards? All of these items have a dollar value attached to them and unless you have a bottomless bucket of money to fund these exercises, the costs can add up quickly. Write out a plan for your Christmas spending and start allocating money towards each element. You’ll get an idea pretty quickly of what you can and can’t do.
Set a budget
As part of making a plan, you need to set a budget. This will help you focus not only on what you need to purchase but what you’re going to spend. Most importantly, the thing to do is STICK TO IT!
Make a list and check it twice
Before you start your Christmas shopping, make sure you’re armed with a list of what to buy. Steer clear of those ‘How can I not?’ items that you really don’t need and try not to give in to those impulse purchases.
Many retailers will be scrambling to attract your Christmas spending this year, which means there will be bargains to be found. Do your own research, be it online or check out the many catalogues that will hit your mailbox in the coming weeks, and find out where you can find the best buys.
The Black Friday Sales, which this year will be on 27 November, is a retail phenomenon that started in the US aligned to their Thanksgiving celebrations. While it may not yet be a big event in Australia, some retailers have caught on and will offer some attractive bargains. Keep an eye on your favourite retailers to see what they have to offer.
If you’re hosting the family or friends on Christmas Day, it’s never too early to prepare the menu; at least the bigger items. Find those bargains on large cuts of meat or poultry and freeze them for the big day. You can even start buying those other items such as bon bons and festive decor.
Less is more
How often have you seen a Christmas feast prepared and much of it go to waste? While it’s wonderful to spoil your guests with a special meal and have plenty of leftovers for the days following Christmas, you can reduce the menu without skimping on the experience. This can go back to your planning. Take a close look at your numbers and think twice before making the purchase. It’s better for your wallet to run out than to throw out.
Don’t leave it too late!
While some people (yes, we’re looking to you, Dads!) may enjoy the rush of last-minute Christmas shopping, it can end in disaster. Avoid the big crowds and the risk of missing out on those items or presents you desperately wanted to buy and start your shopping for Christmas now. Come Christmas Eve, you’ll be glad you did.
Avoid ‘Buy now, pay later’
The thought of buying now and paying at a later date can be alluring when you’re in the midst of Christmas shopping, but it’s something that is better avoided. Know what you need, how much you have to spend and stick to it. That way there won’t be any bill shock come January or February.
Most of all…..ENJOY!
The festive season really is a time to enjoy and by reducing the financial burden that can go with it, will help you do just that.
Merry Christmas, everyone!