Christmas might be the time for giving but how much can you really afford to spend this year? With only seven weeks until the man in the red suit makes his way down your chimney, time is running out to get your budget in check. So what can you do to avoid unwanted debt in the New Year? You’ve probably heard it a hundred times before but planning and sticking to a budget really is the best advice to follow during the gift giving season. With that in mind, we have put pen to paper to come up with some of our favourite tips to stretch your dollar further this Christmas.
- Offload what you don’t need
The lead up to Christmas is an opportune time to offload unwanted or unused items that are no longer needed. Create some extra space and make some spare cash by posting your items on your local buy and sell Facebook page, eBay or Gumtree, or alternatively have an old fashioned garage sale. Then invest the funds you make into your Christmas budget.
- Avoid tit-for-tat gift giving
Anyone who has a large family or an extended network of friends knows the affect tit-for-tat gift giving can have on your bank account. Giving a gift because someone has or is giving you one, can throw a spanner (or three) into your Christmas budget. So what can you do to combat this?
Communication is key. Chat to your friends and family in advance to let them know what your gift giving plans are this year. If you are sticking to a small budget, suggest a Secret Santa inspired arrangement where you only need to buy one gift instead of seven. This can be a good solution for large family gatherings. With friends, opt for an experience instead of a gift. This could be as easy as having a coffee or dinner.
- Plan your purchases
Do you have a list and have you checked it twice? Planning who you are buying for and how much you want to spend is a simple and effective way of managing your budget. Spending time looking for ideas online can also help, especially if you are planning to tackle peak crowds at the shopping centre. This way, you can spend less time looking around and avoid the temptation of items on sale.
When it comes to food, investing a little time in to planning also helps. If you are guilty of going to the supermarket for one item and walking out with five, you are not alone. When planning your Christmas feast, map out a plan. If you want to be really organised, write your shopping list in the order of the aisles they appear in. It will save you time and help you stick to your list – it’s true!
- Online buying beware
Buying presents online is convenient. You can do it in the comfort of your own home with a glass of wine and your dinner in tow. What’s not to love, right? When it comes to your budget, just remember to factor in cost of postage and importantly, how long it will take to get to you. Postage services experience extended delays around peak times like Christmas, so get in early to avoid disappointment.
- Track your spending
Whether you’re buying online or braving the crowds at the shops, it’s important to keep track of what you are spending. How you do this is up to you. You can keep the receipts in an envelope, write down the amounts on some paper or use an app like the McConachie Stedman app to keep your receipts digitally. Whatever your preferred method, it helps to be consistent.