10 Ways To Not Blow The Bank This Month, Even Though Christmas Is Bloody Expensive
Because most of us will be broke before January if we don't get it together.
Ahh Christmas, the season of merriment, gift-giving and debt accruement.
With so many parties, dinners and gifts involved during the holiday season, it's not uncommon for people's bank accounts to go down in the busiest retail time of the year.
To help keep your finances afloat during the holiday season, we've asked
Paridhi Jain, founder of SkilledSmart, a Money School for adults, to tell us her top tips for staying money smart this Christmas.
These are her words of wisdom.
Plan ahead...like, way ahead.
Christmas comes every year, right? While there may be some
unforeseen costs, for the most part, the list of people you buy gifts for is pretty much the same every year. So if you're really well organised, you can keep an eye out for Christmas presents throughout the year, so that you can buy things when they go on sale instead of during the Christmas rush.
Designate a separate Christmas fund.
If Christmas feels financially challenging, it can be a good idea to have a separate savings account or 'bucket' for the holiday season, which you contribute to throughout the year. That way, come December, you have a nice little pile of savings specifically for the holiday season, which you can spend guilt-free.
Set a budget and physically track how to spend it.
Not many people actually write a budget on paper, but it's a great way to designate how you'll be spending all your hard-earned money. Using a simple column graph, mark out what you'll be buying (and for whom, if applicable), how much you're budgeting for that gift and then how much you actually spent on it when you do purchase it.
And obviously, ensure that your budget is actually within your means.
Understand what sticking to your budget will mean for you.
It's often easier to achieve your goals if they have real-world significance for you. So rather than saying, "I want to save $1000 grow my savings", attaching a trip, an item or an experience to it will motivate you more. For example, if you want to save $1000 to go to the Gold Coast during the summer, suddenly that money represents going away and spending time with your loved ones, rather than just a number — which will deter you from blowing an extra $1000 during the silly season.
Give gifts that you don't have to buy.
Let's go back to what the purpose of giving a gift is. It's to show love, care and make someone feel special. There are a number of things you can do that don't involve buying a gift: Write someone a beautiful letter, give them some vouchers for nice gestures they can redeem with you throughout the year — like a nice cooked meal or a massage — or offer to spend time helping them with something they would really appreciate your help with — like really, does dad want a new pair of socks, or would he rather you mow his lawn more often?
Also, consider simple gifts that you can make with your hands, like a painting for your sister's new place or a succulent you've potted yourself.
Host potluck parties instead of going out for Christmas celebrations.
The point of Christmas get-togethers is to spend time together and have fun, so you shouldn't have to break the bank to do so. Pick a great picnic spot or invite your friends to yours and get everyone to bring a dish or a drink to share. The added bonus is that you won't be in an overly-loud restaurant where you're yelling to be heard, and you can hang out till whatever time you want without being given those not-so-subtle indications that there are other people waiting for your table.
If you're going out, limit your alcohol.
This can be a tough one to do, but this is where a lot of people go over budget. You're having a good time, you get carried away with a few more drinks than you thought you'd have...and the next morning, your bank hurts more than your head does. Decide ahead of time how much you're going to allow yourself to spend and figure out how to ensure you don't go over budget. I suggest only carrying cash with you so once your wallet dries up, so does your glass.
Pick up some extra gigs on the side.
There can be some great opportunities to pick up some extra work during this time of year. Retail stores usually look for more casual help, plus there are season-specific jobs, like taking photos of kids with Santa. There's also pet-sitting or house-sitting, odd jobs on places like Airtasker or Gumtree, or gigs for musicians and kids' entertainers. While most people are spending during this season, you could be making a bit of extra money!
Grab second-hand bargains through online marketplaces.
There's a massive treasure trove of stuff being sold at discounted prices on places like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. Before you go and buy gifts off the shelf at a shop, you could try your luck there. You never know who is selling brand-new items at a discount, simply to get rid of it!
And finally, sell your old stuff to get some extra cash.
20th Century Fox
On the same note, you could do a declutter and sell your items to make some extra cash. There are all manner of things being sold online, and if it's in great condition or near-new there's even better chances someone will want to take it off your hands.
What are your tips for staying money savvy during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!
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