Christmas is coming!!! Less than two months to go – gulp. If you have started to think about buying gifts, but don’t have much cash to do that with – then now is the time to start saving or to think about taking out credit to cover the costs. We look at the best ways to stay smart about credit over the Christmas period – and show you how a budget could save you money and reduce your chances of succumbing to bad credit history by racking up Christmas credit card debt you can’t pay back.
David and Libby Koch recently wrote a great article on saving money over Christmas ‘Budget for the festive financial cliff.’ They advise you to start saving now, and sidestep credit as much as possible to avoid the February blues after the credit card bill comes in.
“The Christmas, New Year and summer holiday period can leave even the best-run family budget in tatters.
It can be a huge drain on family finances and cause a lot of undue stress. But by starting to plan early you can make sure that it’s a relaxing and affordable time for everyone, even the organiser.
We’re not talking about two weeks out, we mean two months out and that’s now,” they write.
Planning is great advice, and that can include sitting down now and writing your shopping list, whilst you are calm and slightly removed from the Christmas madness which often sees us overspending on everyone.
The Kochs’ advise setting a budget, “set realistic limits and ensure everything is accounted for.”
Their top tips include:
• Suggest a Secret Santa
A great way to keep the cost of presents under control is through Secret Santa, where everyone draws a name out of a hat and only buys a present for that person. This works best for big extended families and with a pre-agreed limit for everyone to spend on their gift.
Not only does it put a cap on costs, but also means everyone gets one good present instead of lots less useful gifts. That’s the plan anyway.
• Write down what you want for Christmas
Try writing down the things you want to buy for yourself over the next couple of months. Then, next time somebody asks, think back to that list and hopefully you’ll get something you would have spent money on anyway.
They also suggest:
• Buy in bulk and give extended family the same item.
• Give a voucher for your time – to babysit, garden, etc.
• Make a gift such as craft items or cookies.
• Regift any of those unwanted presents.
• Make a tax-deductible donation to charity.
Want more tips? Earlier in the month savingsguide.com.au posted some tips for getting frugal over Christmas ‘A Frugal Christmas: 5 Things To Do Now’. Here are a couple of great ideas:
• Tally up what you spent last year
There’s no way to prepare for the event- a joyous one to be sure, but difficult to fit into already stretched budgets- without knowing exactly what you spent