Christmas is a challenging time of the year when it comes to your finances. If you don’t plan ahead and get organised it is very easy to blow your budget, that’s if you even have one. With a little bit of thought you can ensure your money goes further and you avoid the post Christmas financial blues.

Christmas Celebrations
Get creative on what you need for your Christmas celebrations. Some ideas are:

  • Make do with last year’s decorations or swap with friends.
  • Create a menu plan in advance so you know how much you need to spend on groceries.
  • Have a potluck dinner instead of an elaborate feast that requires you do all the work (and grocery shopping).
  • Keep an eye out for sales to buy the non-perishables things you need in advance.

Christmas Gifts
The less people you have to buy for the less you need to spend. Some people only shop for close family and friends. Other people put together Christmas presents for co-workers, the cleaner, the dog walker, hairdresser, plumber, poker buddies, kid’s teacher, and more. Decide on what you are comfortable with and what works with the funds you have available. Some ideas:

  • Trim your gift list.
  • Agree to exchange cards instead of gifts with friends.
  • Persuade your extended family to draw names rather than have everyone buy everyone else a gift.
  • Only give gifts to the kids.
  • Start buying for Christmas as soon as you can so you make the best of the sales.
  • Check your credit card or other loyalty programmes to see what gift you can buy using your points.
  • Scope out your job perks – does you company have any deals that you can utilise for Christmas.
  • Look for two for one deals – are there any that would be ideal for gifts, ie buy one magazine subscription and get another for free.
  • The gift of photos – you do have any doting grandparents on your list? Make photo albums with pictures of your kids.
  • Re gift – carefully of course – the item has to be in perfect shape, you have to remember who gave it to you (heaven forbid you return it back to the original giver) and ideally it has to be a better fit for who you are giving it to than it was for you.
  • Have a look on trademe or other websites and see what bargains you can find. This will save you on petrol and car running costs to go shopping.
  • Clean out your cupboards – how many of us have bought things that we have never used, maybe you have something that will make a great gift.
  • Bring out your culinary skills – people love homemade baking, preserves, jams etc.
  • Give a gift of cleaning, baby sitting, lawn mowing or general handyman jobs. Whilst this will take some of your time it’s a very useful gift and doesn’t cost you any money.

The Christmas holiday period

  • Look for activities that don’t cost a lot like walks, picnics at the beach
  • Google free events in your area
  • Mix and match activities with friends. For example, you might have a pool and your friends a trampoline, so you and your kids can do one day each.