Sunday, November 30, 2014

How to have a memorable Christmas on a budget

This week I saw some interesting survey results showing that over 30% of those who took this survey will budget for up to $1,000 on Christmas, but over 20% of these same people expect to overspend! If you have a budget in mind, why are you expecting to over spend?

The survey was done by Fair Go Finance and had 3,940 people take it. Some of the other facts that stood out to me were the fact that 36.25% expect to spend more on Christmas than they did last year, 28.23% of people don't even keep track of their spending and 20% plan on going into debt or using a bonus to pay for Christmas. This is crazy! The people involved were pretty evenly split around Australia, between the ages of 18 and 60, mostly on incomes under $75,000 and only slightly more females than males.

This survey shows to me that despite the fact we all know Christmas comes at the same time every year, many of us do not budget or plan for it appropriately. I'm a single mum and I know how hard it can be to give your kids everything you want to give them but the most important thing for kids is fun, memories, knowing they are loved and not a bunch of 'stuff'.

How to have a memorable Christmas on a budget
1.) Create traditions
Growing up we had traditions like the Christmas tree went up on the first Monday of December, on Christmas Eve all the kids slept in one room, we had an advent calendar my mum made that had pockets and in each pocket we placed a lolly for each family member plus something to do each day eg sing a Christmas carol, do something nice for someone else, bake cookies together etc. All these things made Christmas special.
2.) Plan ahead
I plan for Christmas by putting aside money every pay, working out who I need to give presents to, what they might like, what gifts I could make and working out my budget which I stick to. Then I start getting what I need throughout the year, in sales and listening to those around me to see what they want as well.
3.) Go potluck
Instead of one person catering for everything, get everyone involved to bring their favourite dish and share the load.
4.) Reduce the amount of gifts
I am one of 9 kids, most are married and there are quite a few nieces and nephews now. You can imagine how crazy and expensive Christmas would be if we all bought for each other. Instead, we pull names out of the hat and buy for a few nieces/nephews each, don't buy for adults (except our parents/grandparents) and have reduced the amount of gifts while increasing the quality of gifts everyone gets.
5.) Go local
Check out local Christmas light displays, get involved in local Christmas events and find out what fun free things there are to do where you live to entertain the kids.
6.) Make your own wrapping paper
Buy a long roll of butchers paper and let the kids go nuts decorating it. It's cheaper than Christmas paper and is a great annual tradition for the kids too.
7.) Book ahead when travelling
If you know where you need to go or what you will be doing over the Christmas period, do some research to find out the cheapest and most practical way to travel, then book ahead of time to get the best deals.

What do you do to save money at Christmas? How much do you budget for and do you mange to stick to your budget?