Christmas can usually become quite the expensive time of the year and each year it seems to come quicker and quicker. We often find ourselves wondering how on earth we are going to pay for it.
The thing about Christmas is, it comes every year, it’s not a surprise so there are things we can do in the 12 months leading up to Christmas that will ensure that you are comfortably funded for the silly season.
When I am talking to people about how they manage their money, I talk about putting money aside for their regular and yearly expenses. For some reason, people completely blank on Christmas and gifts but as we know, this is a yearly expense so it should be included.
You need to figure out how much you intend on spending each Christmas in the first instance.
Let’s say you have 10 family members that you would like to buy gifts for to the value of $30 each. Already you know that you are going to spend $300 on gifts. On top of that you need to consider food and drinks. Let’s say you are going to host Christmas lunch and put on a few drinks. You anticipate that a feast for your 10 family members and yourself if going to set you back around $500.
So based on some basic calculations, you can anticipate that Christmas is going to cost you $800 this year.
If you were to put away money every week, then all you would need to do is set aside $16 a week and you would have $800 by the time Christmas rolled around. I’m sure $16 a week is much easier to handle than scrambling to find $800 at the start of December.
Now this is helpful for next year, but Christmas is only a few weeks away. If you wanted to spend $800, then you need to save approximately $135 per week between now and Christmas to get you across the line.
If that is a bit too much to do between now and then, here are a few tips to help you financially for this year.
- Just buy for the kids – Or similarly, do a family secret santa. Let’s face it, most of us adults get much more enjoyment out of seeing the kids open their presents anyway so if all of the family are ok with it, this should substantially reduce your costs.
- Start buying the food now – Figure out a Christmas menu now and start stockpiling some of the ingredients between now and Christmas when they are on special. It will reduce that giant Christmas shop and reduce the pressure you feel at the time. Same goes for Christmas drinks, keep your eyes peeled for drink specials.
- Set your maximum limit and stick to it – Everyone has their own financial race to run, so if you can’t afford an all expenses spared Christmas, then tell your friends and family. They will usually be very accommodating and will often suggest lowering the Christmas gift budget.
- Consider gifts that don’t cost money – If you have a skill that could be given as a gift, consider offering a voucher for your services instead. Even if you don’t have a specific skill an offer of time is just as good. Think babysitting, car washing, lawn mowing and all of the above. I’ll tell you what, if someone offered to clean my car I would jump at the chance.
- Bring a plate lunch – Most people are totally ok with bringing some food for the Christmas lunch to contribute. It’s a big ask to feed a large family, so if everyone pitches in there will be a huge array of foods and it will ensure that everyone shares the job.
If you do some of the above tips for this year, you should be able to have a lovely Christmas with loved ones for a fraction of the cost.
For those who don’t want to have the same issues next year, figure out how much you want to spend and start saving from the 1st of January. I promise you, you won’t even notice it but you will be so thankful you did it by the time next Christmas rolls around.
By Cara Brett
Cara has been in the financial services industry since 2003 and is a true numbers geek at heart. In her articles, she offers general financial advice drawing from her extensive experience with banking, insurance companies and on the frontline of financial planning.Cara’s qualifications include: Bachelor of Business (Financial Planning), Diploma of Financial Services (Financial Planning), Diploma of Business
The information contained on this blog post is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where possible, seek professional advice from a financial adviser’