We all know Christmas is generally the most expensive time of the year. And it’s easy to get rattled at the thought of all the costs associated with the festive season. Buying appropriate presents for every member of the family, as well as the person next to you in the office (who you think is Jason, but could be Jeff?), beating the crowds and queues, buying food and preparing lunches and dinners, and all whilst trying to keep up the usual household expenses can be daunting and stressful.
It’s a day that should be about coming together to spend time with family and friends but instead it can be a financially stressful time trying to keep up with all the costs for the festive season.
So here are a few tips on how to keep cool this Christmas and enjoy the season for what it should be.
Make a list and check it twice
Planning is the key to mitigate any unexpected expenses. Make a prioritised list of people you need to buy presents or send cards for. Make another list of any lunch or dinner gatherings where you’re hosting or bringing food. And finally, make a third list of any other expenditure you might face, e.g. decorations, kids outfits, etc.
If you have a budget in mind then allocate how much you want to spend from those at the top of the list to the bottom. If you have no clue how much this will all cost you, then put in some numbers of how much you’d like to spend for each person or event, total it up and adjust as necessary.
Check the list when you’re shopping and stick to it.
Do a family Kris Kringle
Instead of having to buy presents for every single person, setup a family Kris Kringle. There are apps and websites that can organise your Kris Kringle and you only need to enter each person’s email address for it to send notification on who they’re buying for. Everyone can also set wish-lists (items they want) so you don’t have to scratch your head trying to think of what to buy them.
The internet can be a wonderful resource when it comes to buying gifts. Not only can you browse multiple stores at once, but you can have it shipped to you or the receiver all nicely gift wrapped so you don’t have to worry about a thing.
If you don’t like the idea of paying for freight costs, try online retailers who offer an in-store collection service. This is good for ensuring you don’t impulsively purchase when you’re in the store.
Lastly, when shopping online, remember to look for any online coupons available before checking-out. And if you’re after something specific, make sure you check multiple retailers for a competitive price.
Ask your guests to bring food
If you’re hosting a Christmas lunch or dinner, remember you don’t need to prepare everything yourself. Guests are often more than happy to bring a plate or help out in some way, so don’t be afraid to ask.
DIY cards and wrapping
Making your own Christmas cards and using plain or brown paper can help lower the cost of your Christmas shopping. Remember most people will simply recycle their Christmas cards the next day, so it’s worthwhile making a simple yet personal card. If you have kids, ask them to paint or colour-in the cover of the card, it can add a nice personal touch that makes the card worth keeping.
Handmade gifts are a practical and affordable solution if you are worried about overspending on presents. Most people tend to appreciate something which you’ve spent time and effort making, which is an added bonus. If you have a particular hobby, turn it into a gift. Some examples might be homemade jams, crochet, pottery, jewellery, etc.
Christmas shouldn’t leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Instead, take a step back and remember it’s the thought that counts, not the amount of dollars you spend.
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Disclaimer: This post has been prepared for general information purposes only. It is not specific advice to any particular person. You should consult an authorised Align Financial adviser before making financial decisions. Align Financial | Financial Planner Northern Beaches | Servicing North Narrabeen, Narrabeen, Mona Vale, Elanora Heights, Newport, Avalon, Palm Beach | Enquire with us online.