Here are some tips on how you can prevent overspending by creating and implementing a realistic, achievable Christmas spending plan with a bit of heart and warmth.
1. Set your budget allocation
Firstly, consider how much you have available to spend during the festivities. Will you be hosting Christmas dinner or New Year’s Eve? Are you planning a Christmas holiday get-away? Are there family festive day outings that you will be going to? Will you be taking advantage of the Boxing Day sales? Does your income allow for these circumstances?
These are questions you should ask yourself to work out how many functions you can afford to attend. You’ll need to create a personal budget allowance while also setting a budget for gift giving.
You also need to consider the miscellaneous costs, such as taxi fares, gift cards, eating out, party accessories, and food or drinks you will take to social events.
If you must tap into your savings, know the exact amount you will be withdrawing and write a plan on how you propose to put the money back into your savings account once Christmas is over.
2. Be realistic with gift giving
Chasing the perfect gift for loved ones is hard, especially if you have so many. Make a list of the names of people you wish to purchase gifts for and allocate a certain amount for each in accordance to your gift-giving budget.
Let older children know their allocated budget and choose their own presents within that price range – a great lesson for children as they mature into adulthood.
Alternatively, everyone loves a little Secret Santa game with work, friends or family. Set a small budget between you and you’ll be surprised at what hilarious items you can buy for your secret friend.
Perhaps you could also give people a listening ear this Christmas? Quality time is an excellent gift and too often it is overlooked, especially at this time of year where many people find themselves spending Christmas alone. Take the time to have a tea or coffee with a neighbour or friend.
3. Write a list for your Christmas food shop
Before you get lost in the midst of Christmas shopping and sales, ensure your Christmas dinner menu is set with a full shopping list beforehand.
I would recommend doing your food shopping online as supermarkets are geared to make you buy impulsively in-store with their “offers”.
Not only will you be prepared for a great Christmas dinner on time, you avoid the mayhem and long queues filled with last minute shoppers.
If you do plan on going to the local supermarket, withdraw the budget allowance in cash as it is easier to keep track of your money. Leave your credit cards at home to avoid accumulating debt you would need to pay off in January.
4. Recycle outfits and make your own decorations
No matter your income, saving money is a great feeling. Have a deep look inside your wardrobe and recycle clothing for your Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties with added new accessories – it’s cheaper than buying a whole new outfit.
Is it time for new Christmas décor? Why not visit charity shops or car boot sales for second hand Christmas decorations? You’ll be getting a bargain while supporting your local charity. Or better yet, create your own handmade decorations and involve children in the making; it’s fun and it’s quality time well spent.
5. Start January on the right footing
Just when the Christmas and New Year’s festivities are over, January begins with new overspending temptations – the January sales. Although the sales are a great way to take advantage of slashed prices, you should first ensure you have put aside the right amount of money needed to pay January’s bills and miscellaneous costs. Doing this gives you peace of mind while you participate in the rush to find the best deals.
Are there some items in particular you would like to purchase during the sales? Then create a wish list beforehand and stay within budget. Avoid going into all the stores and only go into shops that stock items from wish list.
One of the best ways to start the New Year with a real bang is to stick to your Christmas spending plan. There is a great feeling of accomplishment when sticking within your budget, setting off the New Year on a positive note.
Consider creating a personal financial game plan for the rest of the year and see where your money can take you.
Don’t let the commercialised Grinch steal this Christmas but enjoy its true meaning of love, joy and peace.