Managing your money over Christmas

The holiday period can be a great family time, but it can be very stressful. The pressure of Christmas gift spending and the stress of entertaining others with activities and outings can make Christmas and summer a dreaded event.

Social media and advertising can pressure us to think we need to spend up large at this time of the year. Debt from spending at Christmas can be a burden for months to come.

If you’re after a more relaxed and enjoyable holiday period without unexpected debt here are a few tips and ideas that might work for you:

  • If you get paid in a lump sum before Christmas and it’s difficult to manage and easy to overspend, put money in another account and transfer out what you need each week.
  • Set a total spending limit for Christmas gifts then break it down for each person you need to buy for and stick to the figures you calculated.
  • Check out second hand stores as they have some quality gifts and clothes.
  • Start buying a few extra grocery items each week, particularly items that are on special or food that can be frozen until Christmas.
  • If you have a large family or adult children, try a Secret Santa. Set a $ limit and everyone buys gifts up to that amount. They all get put into a sack and pulled out randomly. Everyone gets one gift and the budget is manageable. An alternative is to give out names so each person has one other family member to buy for.
  • Try vouchers for Christmas, such as a pool pass or movie tickets. This provides activities that can be done during school holidays. You could also make your own vouchers, such as mowing lawns or making a meal.
  • If you’re hosting a family meal make it pot-luck so that everyone is contributing towards the cost of food.
  • Plan school holiday activities ahead. This gives children something to look forward to and means you can plan the budget to spread out costs.
  • When you’re looking for entertainment activities, consider free options such as walking tracks or community events. A day at home with no cost activities like water play and backyard sports is also a great idea.