Christmas money

By Rick Mapperson

How to survive Christmas and keep your finances intact.

It is no surprise that straight after the Boxing Day sales and the Christmas decorations have been packed away, shops start selling Hot Cross Buns. Christmas, Easter, Halloween, all the holiday occasions are opportunities for shops to get us to part with our hard-earned dollars. Christmas is the biggest spending season of all, and retailers do all they can to get us to spend and spend big. For too many people Christmas spending leads to heartache in January when the credit card bills start rolling in.

Here are some real-world tips that are guaranteed to help you have a great Christmas And a January that doesn’t involve regret and stress.

1. Develop a gift-giving philosophy.

Before you consider how to save money and budget for Christmas, our very first Christmas tip is this: You’ve got to create your Christmas gift-giving philosophy.

Consider why you give what you give and what you are aiming for in your gift giving.

What does giving mean to you? Is it about finding the perfect presents? Do you hope to impress others with how much you spend on them? Or do you feel obligated to buy for people? These motivations (and others like them) can really shape how you view the season.

Be honest with yourself and think about why you’re buying presents before you think about how you’re going to pay for them all.

Marketers are experts at making us feel inadequate and that we need to buy the latest and greatest toys etc. Children see something on TV, and they want it. Children also know that if they ask for something often enough, they stand a good chance of wearing us down and getting what they want.

Yet, teaching our children that just because they like something or see something that looks great doesn’t mean that they can have it or should it.

Resist the pressure to give into your children’s pleading. Remember that marketers are constantly seeking ways to prise money out of our wallets. Don’t let them do that to you.

Know why you give, know what you want to achieve in your giving plans. We will explore some very creative and practical ways to make your Christmas great without getting yourself into financial strife. And having a surprisingly great Christmas at the same time.

2. Budget.

Now, the way you become the hero of the holidays is by budgeting. That’s right, if you want to stay on Santa’s nice list, set a limit for how much you’re going to spend and stick to it. Knowing how much money you have at your disposal and sticking to that limit is empowering and puts you in control.

3. Track your spending.

So, lots of people spend like crazy throughout December and never check in on their budget. They just think, I’ll worry about it in January. Don’t do that. It will give you a regretful attitude about Christmas and the burden of debt can hang around for months to come. Track your expenses as you go, so you don’t end up overspending and ruining this months and next month’s budget.

4. Keep it real

You will often hear advertisements refer to having a “magical Christmas” or a “Wonderful Christmas” and that sounds great. We do need to stay realistic and remember that relationship problems can’t be fixed by buying lots of presents. Feeling lonely or isolated is not resolved by buying gifts for people in the hope that they will suddenly start to be your best friend.

It is not realistic that the person you have not gotten on well with during the year will find a new found friendship at Christmas. We need to keep it real.

not try and solve problems that have nothing to do with money by overspending to try and fix

5. Think creatively.

There’s an old saying that goes, “It’s the thought that counts.” and while some people might use this as an excuse to be cheap its actually a great philosophy. A homemade cake or slice can carry more meaning than something easily picked up at the supermarket.

A jar that has all the ingredients added with the relevant recipe attached is a very thoughtful and fun gift to give to someone.

Some people will love the gift of time. Give them a voucher for babysitting, or other service so time poor people can receive what they really want, time.

6. Shop early.

Do what you can now and even better plan for next year now. Don’t wait for Black Friday to start Christmas shopping, look for sales all year long. Grab that special gift on sale at end of the financial year sales in June.

When you’re mindful of your list throughout the year, you’ll spread out both the spending and the stress (and maybe even get rid of the stress altogether).

7. Give fewer gifts.

Be deliberate in who you give gifts. Not everyone needs a gift. This year, send your tidings of comfort and joy to some people on your list through a thoughtful card only.

And if you want to save even more money, have a kind chat with your family members. Are you all giving just to give? Do you all want to cut back? Some families agree that each person will buy one gift for one person. Also its not uncommon to set a dollar figure limit on the gift too.

A clear conversation about skipping presents this year for a shared meal (if you’re able) and stocking stuffers instead could be just the thing both your family and your finances need.

8. Live by the list.

There’s a reason Santa checked his list twice, and it’s not because he’s absent-minded. When we go off the list, we overspend. Now, if you realize you forgot a friend, of course you add them in! But once you’ve got your philosophy and budget set, don’t get swept up in the Christmas spirit and start buying every gift that catches your eye for every person you’ve ever met.

9. Go in on a group gift.

A bigger, more expensive gift doesn’t have to be off the table just because you’re on a budget this year. Just go in on it with someone else. Get all your siblings in on buying one big gift for your parents. Ask teammates to go in for a nice gift card for the coach. Email all the parents in your kids’ class to donate small items for a gift basket for the teacher.

They say sharing is caring, after all. And sharing the cost of one big present is a great way to give well, while still caring for your budget.

10. Regift.

Regifting has a bad reputation, but it’s time to move away from that. Regifting solves two problems in one. It saves you shopping and money, and declutters at the same time. TIP: Make sure you check inside the box for any cards. Nothing gives regifting away like an old card with your name on it. Here are the ground rules for regifting.

A. Make sure the gift you give didn’t come from who you plan to give it to.

B. Make sure it is still in pristine condition. If it looks old and worn things won’t go well.

C. Make sure it’s appropriate for the new recipient and will be welcomed.

Be smart, but there’s nothing wrong with this kind of regifting. It saves money and keeps a gift from going unused.

11. Make presents.

If you want to give something personal, memorable and one of a kind, make it! Seriously. Pinterest has a ton of ideas and instructions. If you aren’t super crafty, try baking a sweet treat, putting together a gift basket of someone’s favourite flowers. Nothing says Happy Christmas like something homemade.

Christmas Tips to Get More Money

12. Sell your stuff.

It’s almost that time again, time to get more stuff. So, why don’t you get rid of some of your old stuff? Not only will you make room for new things, but you’ll also make some money to buy other people stuff.

Yes, we’re making a little light of it. You know the season isn’t supposed to be about stuff. But really, try clearing out some things you never use and make some money in the process!

But remember, if money’s tight this year, and you’re having income issues already, don’t put pressure on yourself to make more or spend a lot this year. Focus more on the other joys of the season.

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