It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

The silly season is upon us again. It is the time of year where people feel pressure to spend money on their family and friends.  Here are our tips to surviving the festive season without a debt hangover in the new year!

Get Creative with Present Ideas

Try the ‘tacky sack challenge’ this year.  My partner dont buy each other big gifts each year. We have a Christmas stocking challenge with a set time limit at the local shops and a set dollar value (usually up to $20).  It can be great fun if you choose a theme for each year, this year we are doing ‘things starting with the letter M’.  While others in the shops are doing the serious shopping you can be ducking from shop to shop in a 20-minute time frame. This can keep costs of presents low and is also a good laugh on Christmas morning!

If you are buying for family or friends have an agreement on a spending amount.  If you are not present people just buy something for the kids rather than all the adults in the family.

Limit the cost of presents by having a ‘Secret Santa’ for your group of friends or your family.  In our family we have done this for the last 10 years and it saves money as we agree on a $50 limit per person.  If you add a present switching with the process you get some extra laugher and more excitement to the day.  Check out the online apps and tools which can assist in the person selection process.

Homemade presents can be more cost effective. Get your baking on or if you have a green thumb maybe give some nice flowers or plant seedlings from the garden. The gift of time to help out someone with a project or job you know they need done can also be cost effective.  Be it babysitting or dog walking or even cleaning or gardening.

If you use a reward card (credit card points etc) use your points as your shopping budget. This can make the process more affordable and your money will go further.

Getting Your Christmas Card On!

We don’t often get a handwritten letter in the mail anymore.  Consider sending cards rather than presents.  Add some nice words and thoughts to your family and friends. Think about the options to make cards and get your kids involved.  E-cards or just a handwritten letter or phone call could be a nice and cheaper way to celebrate the season.

When it comes to the new year sales. Buy Christmas cards for the next year in the post Christmas sales.  Usually these are up to 75% off the ‘silly season’ price!

The Christmas Feast

Sharing a good meal with family and friends over the season can add up.  Entertaining at home can be cheaper than going out and stocking up in advance on food and drinks can help spread costs over the year.

If you are hosting guests, ask them to contribute a dish – this spreads the workload as well as expense.  Plan your meals, snacks and drinks beforehand based on the numbers of people you expect. Then take a list with you to the supermarket – and stick to it!

Buy the supermarkets’ own brands rather than a known brand!  Once you have them on a nice platter no one can tell the difference!

Start Planning Now for Christmas Next Year

We all know the date of Christmas 2016 (it will be Sunday the 25th of December) so get planning today.

Put some money aside every month into a separate account to make next Christmas more affordable.  Make it fun savings by not spending your gold coins for the year and putting these into a moneybox.  It will surprise you at how much adds up over the year.

Buy your seasonal things in this years post Christmas sales. Christmas cards, decorations and presents (up to your agreed limit) can be much cheaper.  With a plan in mind you will also spend less if you stick to your agreed limits and be on top of Christmas for next year!

Spread purchases across the year, I have a client who buys one present every few months.  Look out for sales for your presents and non-perishable food and drink.  This can help avoid a big bill next December.

As with all money stuff we suggest you have honest and open conversations with your family and friends.  Setup some creative strategies so that you can enjoy the important part of the season. Afterall it is all about the quality time and memories with your loved ones.

About Scott Malcolm

Scott Malcolm has been awarded the internationally recognised Certified Financial Planner designation from the Financial Planning Association of Australia and is Director of Money Mechanics.  Money Mechanics is a fee for service financial advice firm who partner with clients in Melbourne, Canberra and Sydney to achieve their life and wealth outcomes. We are authorised to provide financial advice through PATRON Financial Advice AFSL 307379.

The information provided on this article is of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  Before acting on this information you should consider its appropriateness having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs.