“Save for Christmas? It’s too early to talk about Christmas!” I hear you say. But if Coles and Woolies can sell Fruit Mince Pies already, then I can sure as heck write a post to help you pay for said baked goods.
Can you actually believe it, Christmas is literally three months away today (unless you’re reading this later, in which case – panic!). But don’t worry, I have a few tips for you on how to make sure that you enjoy your Christmas season without breaking the bank.
Plan & Budget
If you’ve been following me for a while, it’s probably not going to be surprising to you that my first suggestion to save for Christmas is to start planning now. The decisions that you make now, are going to be made from your pre-frontal cortex – that super-smart part of your brain that is able to be objective and rational – which is going to mean you’re going to feel much more relaxed and under control by the time Christmas rolls around. Here are a few things you may want to plan for:
Make a list of the people you want to buy presents for and decide how much you are going to spend on each person. To avoid arguments, discuss this in advance with your family. It can be easy to get sucked into other people’s agendas when it comes to buying gifts. Decide who you truly want to buy gifts for. Do you only want to buy presents for the kids? Do you want to limit it to your immediate family? Are there friends you want to buy for? Or do you want to arrange a Secret Santa/Kris Kringle for the adults to make it cheaper and easier to manage? Don’t forget to plan for teachers, cards and other surprise presents.
Remember, it’s YOUR money and while it feels great to give and to be generous, it shouldn’t be at the expense of your financial security or peace of mind. Don’t feel bad for making the decision to say no if it’s not within your means or budget.
The festive spirit and social aspect of Christmas can be one of the most enjoyable things about December. There are so many parties and events to go to and if you haven’t decided in advance which of them you’re going to prioritise then you will find yourself getting swept up in the excitement. Decide in advance what you’re going to attend and then stick to it – overcoming FOMO is hard, but it’s an important skill to develop!
When you’re deciding which events to go to, make sure you also budget for the cost involved, are you buying a new dress? Will you take an Uber home? How much will you spend on drinks? If you’ve got a tendency to get overly generous and tap-happy once you’ve started drinking, leave your credit card at home and take cash with you or put a limited amount on your debit card for the night.
Work out now who is hosting Christmas and then ensure that you know exactly what your responsibilities are. If you’re hosting, let other family members know if you would like them to bring a particular dish, drink or decoration. Be realistic about what you can afford and be open with those people close to you – shame about money only makes things worse and leads to guilt, resentment and remorse.
If you want a little help in the planning stage, Pinterest has a plethora of free Christmas Planner Printables. Check them out here.
The great part about planning early is that you give yourself time to save for Christmas, rather than panicking in December. Put aside a little extra into your savings each pay cycle so that you have the cash to be able to spend. Going into debt to pay for Christmas is definitely not a good idea. Stay away from the credit cards and try and start saving now. If you don’t have the capacity to save more, consider selling items that you have and no longer need or utilise your frequent flyer or loyalty cards (bet you forgot about those!).
While this probably isn’t a good idea for the prawns, buying presents before the sales and marketing gurus work their magic on the malls is definitely smart. You may want to buy everything all at one, or chip away at your list week by week. Just make sure that you stick to your list.
Manage your mind
It can be so easy to get caught up in the hype of Christmas and overspend, overeat and overdrink. Or, to not think about it until the last minute and then panic-buy everything in sight. Being deliberate about how much and what you want to spend your money on can be vital for ensuring that you don’t start the new year feeling on the back foot. You really need to be aware of where your decision making is coming from. Ask yourself, is it a tradition, or obligation that is driving your spending behaviour? If it isn’t coming from a place of joy or it is compromising your financial wellbeing or happiness, then think again.
Do you save for Christmas in advance? And tell me the truth, have you already had a sneaky mince pie this year?! If you’d like a few more tips on how to save money from your budget, check out this quick-fire list of 20 Things You Can Do TODAY to Save More Money.