Keep the financial upper hand this Christmas
It’s the same date every year, but it still seems to always catch us by surprise. We’re talking about the season to be jolly but there’s nothing jolly about your bank balance taking a severe bashing. Combine your creativity with some smart planning and you can avoid spending the first half of the next year paying off the debt you accrued over the silly season. Remember, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!
Gift giving, going out and groceries are expenditures that can easily get out of hand. So, set yourself a realistic and manageable budget and stick to it!
Gift giving is a wonderful way of treating friends and family. Reducing costs doesn’t mean eliminating all the fun.
- Agree with family and friends to set a spending limit for gifts.
- Cash in reward points for gifts.
- Make your own.
- Buy second-hand goods.
- Regift (but maybe not to the person who gave it to you in the first place!)
- Create your own gift vouchers. For example, if you have a skill that others would like to learn, offer them a set of lessons. Or offer babysitting, pet sitting, window cleaning, cooking dinner, mowing the lawn, guitar restringing … the list goes on!
- Set up a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa. Have a little online fun in the lead up using the likes of Elfster.
- Suggest your workplace does a regifting Kris Kringle/Secret Santa. Cost is negligible, and fun is maximised. Most of us have something at home in great condition that for whatever reason we just don’t use. Maybe a book in mint condition that someone else would love to read?
- Give a gift that just keeps giving. This is especially good for kids who receive an influx of presents. Rather than buy an expensive gift that might get lost in the crowd, set up a bank account and make deposits at Christmas and birthdays. Hand over the money when the child turns 18 or 21 and they will be able to put it towards whatever they want.
- Shop around online to compare and find the best prices.
- If heading out to the shops, consider taking cash and only buy within your self-imposed limit.
The options are only as limited as your imagination.
Eating out with a group can be tricky. All too often, the decision is to just split the bill and you find yourself subsiding others alcohol or entrees and dessert, which you didn’t have. To avoid finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation agree with the group ahead of time how payments will be tackled. It’s also worth checking with the restaurant in advance to see if you can pay individually.
Check the bill before paying. Maybe the wait staff were busy and that bottle of Moet the table next to you ordered inadvertently ended up on your tab!
Seek out a BYO restaurant for your Christmas outing. Guaranteed to keep costs down!
Instead of heading out to dinner consider hosting an evening at home asking everyone to bring something. With everyone contributing a little, the costs are shared making it affordable and enjoyable for everyone.
Challenge yourself to find a way to go out without it costing much. Do a walking tour around the neighbourhood to view the Christmas decorations. Organise a mini Olympics competition at the beach or in the park and enjoy a festive picnic meal. Set up a screen in your backyard and show all your favourite Christmas flicks.
Keep your wallet tightly closed and let your imagination run wild!
We can probably all agree that food is one thing we are not short of at Christmas. One quick way to reduce costs is to reduce the amount of food we serve. Food for thought?
Spread the costs by stockpiling in the run up to Christmas. Make your lists early and buy something extra each week, leaving just the fresh produce to the week before. Each time you shop, take your written list with you. This will help you avoid impulse buys.
Don’t throw food away. Get creative with leftovers. Look for free recipe ideas at your local supermarket or search for inspiration online.
Set up a Christmas cupboard and fill it with all the bargains you’ll find in the shops come January. Just remember to check the use-by dates to see if they can last the distance until the following December! And of course, napkins, Christmas crackers, wrapping paper and other non-perishables don’t have a use by date.
Hopefully, you’ve found a few tips here to help you navigate your way through the holiday season debt free. Have yourself a merry time!
If you have questions about how to keep the upper hand with your finances, get in touch with us for an obligation-free chat. Call us on 0800-230-235 or send an email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a time.