I didn’t know what to call this article, How to save money at Christmas or ‘Tis the season to be freaking out about our budgets! So I chose both! For many Christmas is a decision on not what we want to get the kids for Christmas but what we can afford. Sadly for some they have it the other way around which sends them into the new year in debt.
So let’s share our top Christmas budget tips with each other so we can all enter 2018 debt free (or at least no new debt from Christmas 2017).
Top tips to bring in 2018 without a financial Christmas hangover:
- Set your budget, know your budget, don’t spend more than you budgeted. And make a list of all the gifts you need to buy, fit them into the list and stick to your list.
- Start early (Bit late for that THIS year but after Christmas get saving for next year). Get the $2 coin bottle or Christmas account or buy your $5 gift card each week at shopping, or open a Christmas savings account or whatever your strategy is, happening stat.
- Make a choice RIGHT NOW that you won’t go into debt for Christmas. This changes your future. It changes what you role model to your kids and teens. It sets the standard to live within your means and this changes your financial future for the better.
- Set a new trend in 2017 to show your children you value their futures and yours rather than instant gratification on things that will put you into debt or financially cripple you.
So with just 3 weeks to (AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!) what do you do if times are tough. Improvise!
Top tips for improvising when times are tough (AKA How to do Christmas on a budget):
- The calendar. This is my go to.. you buy a $2 calendar for each of the kids, and write in it future events that you WILL honour such as 1 on 1 kid dates, family movie outtings, concerts, whatever your family and kid’s things are. What this does is gives them experiences over ‘things’ and you don’t have to fork out prior to Christmas, but instead can budget throughout the year for events. Some do vouchers instead of the calendar and wrap individually in a gift box.
- Share the cost: Is there something expensive they’ve asked for that you really want to get them but just can’t afford? Then perhaps you can give them half or a quarter or third of the cost so they can choose to add their own money in or buy something less expensive. Eg this year a lot of teens are asking for iphone 6, 7’s and 8’s. The iphone 6 is around $600 give or take. You could put $250 into a box with a note saying toward your new phone if you choose one more than this price, or you can use this to purchase a new phone. Help them contribute to larger ticket items.
- Relatives: Ask your kids, even the teens, to write a Letter to Santa, that you can keep in your handbag and when rellies ask what can they get them you can pull out the list and let them choose one of the items from the list. This spreads the blessings and the burdens.
- Charity shops have some amazing bargains. I have noticed that more affluent areas have a lot better things so have a shopping day with friends in a richer suburb’s charity shops. The Gold Coast has some fantastic ones around Harbourtown.
- Shop around. It really does pay to shop around and if you find it cheaper in one store mention it to the store closest to you, they may just match the price.
- Help your children re-evaluate what’s important at Christmas.
- Start new family traditions that don’t cost the earth.
- If you have a large extended family and it’s stressful buying for everyone, instigate a Secret Santa style gift giving for adults (or everyone) with an appropriate budget limit.
- It’s still not too late to sell off any unwanted things around the house on Ebay, Gumtree or in a garage sale to make some last minute money.
- Shop on Ebay and Gumtree! So many bargains to be had.
- Are there other ways you can earn some last minute cash in the next fortnight? Babysitting so other parents can go shopping in peace? Working extra shifts at work? Taking on an extra client or two? Doing some pet sitting for people going on holidays early? I overheard two working mums discussing how good it would be to be able to give someone a list and have them go shopping for you! (Not a bad side business idea for someone). What’s your thing? What can you do to earn a bit extra in the next fortnight?
- If looking for electronics check out EB games etc they do reburbished items at much cheaper prices.
- Check your Woolies, Coles and other rewards cards. You might be surprised to find you have enough to trade in points for some gift cards.
- DO NOT go to the shops without a list because impulse buying will send you broke quicker than a teen uses their data!
- Make Santa Sacks the ‘practical’ items bag including new pyjamas, school supplies like coloured pencils, specialised pens and pencils and colours, underwear, snacks.
- Do you have a friend or a friend with a teen who works at a shop that has items you want to buy? Ask to borrow them so you can get a 5% discount. It all adds up and friends help friends.
- Get creative with younger kids at Christmas time. Google is your friend for a whole heap of super cheap presents and ideas. I remember when Dan was 2 I was pretty broke that year so his main present was a large box filled with blown up balloons. He and the girls played with that for weeks after Christmas and a restock of balloons was about $2 until the novelty wore off.
- Shopping online can save you money – you only buy what you need and impulse buying isn’t as dangerous (for most of us, I know some of you are click happy but you can control that 🙂 ).
- Make a list, check it twice. Who are you buying for? What are you going to get them or what budget do you have for them? Stick to your list and don’t detour, and you’ll be just fine. Sometimes combining gifts can save you money for example rather than buying your sisters family of four a $30 gift each why not a family gift for $100 – such as a trip to the local movies, outdoor cinemas, is there a drive in close by to send them to, family restaurant voucher, local sporting event, how about buy all their favourite snacks and make a hamper with instructions on a hike or picnic or whatever they’re in to ..maybe it’s a sports event.
- Think experiences more than ‘stuff and things’. The memory lasts longer.
- When shopping stick to your list only and make sure you don’t touch items – I was reading an article that said if you pick something up you are much more likely to buy it. Tell yourself the same mantra you’ve been yelling at your kids for years ‘Look, DON”T touch!”.
- Shop earlier rather than later to avoid the crowds, the stress and overspending because ‘they’ve run out’ of whatever it is you’re looking for.
What would you add to the list?
If you’re looking for a gift for teens then check out our $10 book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens. You can pick up your copy HERE
So my top tips: Work out your budget and stick to it, make your list, don’t deviate from it and get creative.
Happy Christmas shopping everyone. I’d love to hear your tips? and how you and your family do Christmas?