Christmas is a fantastic time of the year. Time for presents, decorations, treats, fancy drinks, relaxing and catching up with loved ones. But how much does the festive season really cost?
Many Australian families don’t know the true cost of Christmas, and would be shocked when they figure out how much they really do spend. Not to mention that this is the season when credit cards cop a hammering and for many families this credit card debt will linger long after the summer holidays are finished.
There is a way to stop this crazy spending and have a debt free Christmas this year!
By creating a simple budget you can stick to over the Christmas and summer holidays, and to make it even easier for you we have attached a Christmas Holiday Budget Planner.
There are 3 steps to a Christmas Budget:
- Create a list of your spending categories
- Set spending goals
- Track ongoing expenditure
- Christmas spending categories
List all the categories for your spending this Christmas. Your list might include;
- Stocking Fillers
- Wrapping paper
- Postage costs
- Holiday’s meals out
- Baking and kitchen gifts
- Entertaining and parties
- Holiday clothes
- Decorations and Christmas Tree
- Home improvements
- Travel expenses
- Charitable donations
- Post-Christmas Sales
- School Holiday Activities
- Set Christmas spending goals
Now it’s time to set a spending limit for each category. Once you have entered your limits it’s time to add them all up. Congratulations! You are one of a minority of people who know the true cost of Christmas.
Now don’t freak out over the balance, remember you now have the choice to make the necessary changes to your budget to reduce your costs before you even start to spend!
It’s time to work backwards, figure out how much you really want to spend, and figure out where you can cut costs. Look for low-cost and no-cost ways to celebrate.
Some ideas to reduce cost;
Presents – Talk to family and friends about the cost of gifts, and make some limits; maybe only give to children this year, or you could draw names out of a hat so each person only has to purchase one present to an agreed value. Have some fun with it!
Decorations – Do an inventory of your decorations and really decide what you can use again, you will be surprised with the amount of decorations you have collected over the years. Then purchase a couple of key items for this year to update the look.
Tip: In January before packing everything away, update your inventory, and store this list with your budget planner and your decorations to make planning next Christmas even more stress-free.
Christmas Meal – Get everyone to pitch in with the Christmas meal. Create a menu and ask people to contribute, in most cases, people want to help out, and they many even have a special dish they want to share. You don’t know unless you ask, and this could be the way for everyone to contribute to giving without presents.
- 3. Track ongoing expenditure
For the budget to work you need to check it before you spend. After you spend, record the actual spending to ensure you know what you are doing with your money. At least weekly, update current spending totals and compare them to the spending goals.
Tip: Once you know your expenditure for this year, you could divide the cost over 10 months and put the monthly amount into a Christmas Club Bank Account that will mature in time for next Christmas. Allowing you the funds to celebrate Christmas without the added financial pressure.
Remember, Christmas isn’t all about the glitz and consumerism, it’s about taking the time to be with loved ones and creating special moments everyone can cherish.