I can’t believe that the festive season is fast approaching. Christmas is one of the most expensive times of the year as we find ourselves spending way more than we had planned. It’s so easy to get into the holiday mood with so many catch-ups with family and friends before the big day and purchasing a new outfit or two for those office Christmas parties. When it comes to presents, we also tend to be generous. What you want to avoid is having that huge credit card bill next month and figuring out how you will pay for it.

Be a sensible gift-giver

Make a list of people you want to buy gifts for and write down how much you want to spend for each one. Have that gift list ready before you shop. Or better yet, check the prices online before you hit the mall.

Use credit wisely

Pay for those presents in cash or with your debit card and spend within your means. You don’t want to be surprised with a huge credit card bill at the beginning of 2018

Get creative

Would you consider getting creative with gifts? Homemade gifts are often the most thoughtful. Could you introduce secret Santa to your family and save money?

Plan and prepare menus ahead of time

Shop and plan early for the Christmas party. Write a list of ingredients you need and make sure you stick to your budget. Buy only what you need.

Eat, drink and save

The great Australian Christmas menu consist of ham, seafood, and the traditional pavlova. If you are hosting a gathering, consider doing potluck and request guests to bring their favourite dish, drinks or alcohol to help reduce the cost of the big day. You not only save money, but you also save yourself from the stress of preparing all those food

Spend your holiday at home

It is common for Australians to go on a holiday during the long Christmas break. If your budget won’t allow for it, why not come up with activities for the kids. Visit the local museum, go to the local parks or visit the zoo.

Give to the less fortunate

Consider donating to a charity on someone else’s behalf and give this to them as a gift. Unicef.org.au provides ideas for Christmas gift giving with donations catering to different budgets. Sponsoring a child through World Vision is another option.

Enjoy the holiday season without the financial stress. Steer clear of debt. Budgeting and planning ahead will make a difference to your bottom line this holiday season. Get ahead for next year by keeping track of how much you spent on all your Christmas items this year. Divide that number by 11 and come January, diligently put that amount in your high-interest saver account monthly. With the saved Christmas funds, you don’t have to worry where to find the money to finance your Christmas celebrations and gifts next year.

This article is for general information only and should not be considered personal financial advice. Before making a financial decision, you should seek independent advice from a mortgage broker, financial planner or an accountant.

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