Christmas time is a period filled with fun, friends, family, and food!! While it’s a time for giving, if you’re not careful, Christmas can put a significant dent in your savings. To help you do Christmas on a budget and ensure your spending doesn’t get out of control, we’ve put together a list of the most effective money saving hacks we know. So read on and Monzi will help make managing the Christmas period a breeze.
Monzi is a lender-finding service. We do not offer financial advice. Consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice to check how the information and ideas presented on this website relate to your unique circumstances.
Christmas on a budget: where to begin?
If you’re looking to save money this Christmas, creating a budget is a must. In fact, it should always be your first step, any time you’re looking to save money. That way, you can assess your income and expenses so you know how much you can afford to spend.
There are plenty of great online, budget-building resources which make creating your budget a breeze. The ASIC’s MoneySmart Budget Planner is a great place to get started. Your expenses are categorised so you can see exactly where you money is going each month. You might even be able to cut costs to give yourself a few extra dollars to spend this holiday period.
At the end of the day, Christmas is only one day out of 365 in a year. While you may want to make it spectacular, don’t compromise your current financial situation to do so.
Set your limits
Once you have your budget, you’ll know exactly what you can afford to spend. Make sure you stay disciplined and don’t go over budget.
It doesn’t matter what you’re buying. It could be food, drinks or gifts but make sure you set a limit and stick to it!!
Spending a little extra on an item here or there might not seem like much but if you’re not careful, you can find yourself over-budget in no time.
A handy tip is to set a time limit on how long you will spend in the shopping centre. It could be half an hour, an hour or even longer. The idea though is to stop you from being tempted to hang around and buy things you don’t need.
This may seem harsh but not every person in your life needs or deserves a gift. While it’s a nice thought and will be appreciated, in most cases, within a few months people won’t remember who did and didn’t buy them a gift. This is even more true for gifts that are generic or unoriginal (E.g. a gift card).
So, don’t spread yourself thin. Instead, only buy presents for the friends and family you see as most important. Only buying presents for a few people means you can spend a little bit more on each of them too. It’s a simple way to do Christmas on a budget.
Ultimately, while it feels good to give people presents, your financial health should always come first. Focus your energy on a few people and save money you otherwise would have spent.
Christmas on a budget: accepting minimalism
While you may want to go all out when it comes to Christmas decorations, there really is no need. Fairy lights, tinsel, knick-knacks and a huge Christmas tree are great in theory but at most, you’ll only get one month’s use out of them so don’t spend too much.
A small Christmas tree will only set you back a few bucks and while it won’t exactly fill a room with Christmas cheer, it does the job. Throw in a few other decorations around the house and you can create a festive feel with limited resources.
Let’s be honest, after the initial excitement of putting everything up, the decorations fade into the background pretty quickly.
Wait for the sales
This will involve some planning and agreements with family and loved ones, but if you’re looking to do Christmas on a budget, delaying your gift exchanges can potentially save you a ton of money.
We all know about the much hyped Boxing Day Sales. In the days following Christmas, shops slash their prices meaning it’s the best time to snag a great deal.
Rather than fighting the crowds in the days before Christmas, take advantage of the sales. You may be able to cut your Christmas spending considerably if you know where to look.
Who said gifts have to be exchanged on the 25th of December? Receiving a gift a few days later is no less special and it will almost certainly save you money.
Create your own traditions: ensuring you can do Christmas on a budget
More than almost any other day of the year, Christmas is a day of tradition and social conformity. Typically, most people spend time with family and friends, eat turkey and Christmas pudding and give gifts. Every year, it’s the same thing.
In most cases, this is all you’ve ever known but why not ask yourself what you really want out of the holiday period.
Realistically, you have control over what you do. If you don’t want to travel, buy gifts or spend time with family, you don’t have to. You’re free to do Christmas your way.
Creating your own Christmas traditions means you can have fun your way while ensuring it fits with your budget. There’s no need to spend money on a turkey or a gift for someone you don’t really care about. Make your own choices.
Share the load
If you’re hosting Christmas and you’ve got the whole family coming around for dinner, make sure you spread out the responsibilities. Just because it’s at your house doesn’t mean you have to provide all the food and beverages.
When you’re in the early stages of planning, make a list of everything you need and assign an item or two to each of the guests that will be attending. For example, maybe Aunty Margaret has to bring the pavlova, while you’re brother is in charge of beer.
Make Christmas a team effort and ensure that the burden doesn’t fall solely on your shoulders. You cut your costs while still hosting a 10/10 Christmas filled with food, family and fun.
Make your own gifts
If you’re willing to put in the time, there are a ton of simple, cheap, DIY gifts that won’t set you back more than a few bucks per present.
If you’re the creative type, why not make your own jewellery or even pick up a basic candle making kit. Maybe you’re skilled enough with a sewing machine to make blankets, pencil cases, purses or clothing. Material is so cheap and you can buy in bulk so presents can be mass produced.
Although, if you, like many of us, don’t possess the creative or artistic gene, that’s OK too. Get into the kitchen and whip up some baked goods or even make some fun I.O.U vouchers in no time.
The great thing about DIY gifts is that people love to feel special and a handmade gift shows that you’ve put in time, effort and thought.
Let’s be honest, as an adult, most of the Christmas gifts you receive are underwhelming. Seriously, how many scented candles, gift cards or socks does a person need?
Most of the time you’d be just as happy with no gift at all. So, rather than simply bowing to the gift-giving tradition, be proactive. In the lead-up to Christmas, discuss with your family the possibility of eliminating presents.
While there may be some pushback, if they agree, you save money on buying presents and don’t have to fake excitement when you open another lacklustre gift from that Aunt you see once a year. It’s a win-win.
If you’re not quite ready to do away with gifts but still want to do Christmas on a budget, Secret Santa might be the fun alternative for you.
Rather than buying gifts for everyone, you only need to buy for one person so your shopping is done fast.
In the weeks before Christmas, get together with your family or friends and draw names out of a hat. Set a spending limit (usually around $20) and send everyone on their way. Come Christmas day, everyone will have a present and be none-the-wiser as to who their mysterious benefactor is.
To spice things up, have a theme that the gifts must fit or maybe introduce gift-stealing. Referred to as White Elephant among other things, each guest has the opportunity to steal the gift they want. You can find the full rules online but you’re more than welcome to tweak them to suit your family.
It’s a lot of fun and surely nothing encapsulates the Christmas spirit more than seeing the hope disappear from someone’s eyes as you steal a gift they loved.
The final gift-giving alternative we can offer you is to only buy presents for the children in your life. While it’s always cool to receive a present, as an adult, there’s no doubt some of the shine has come off the custom.
For kids, though, opening a present is the height of the human experience. Nothing puts a smile on a child’s face like getting to tear through the layers of wrapping paper to uncover the hidden treasure within.
Buying presents just for the kids allows you to save money while still getting the satisfaction that comes with making someone smile. Let’s be honest, as an adult, do you really need presents?
Regifting: a questionable yet effective strategy
The ethics of regifting have long been discussed and while it may be a questionable practice, it can be a handy option if want to do Christmas on a budget. Collect any unwanted gifts or freebies you receive through the year and store them somewhere ready for Christmas.
If you want to become an expert regifter, there are a few tips to be aware of.
First, if you plan to regift a present, always take note of who gave it to you in the first place. That way, you can avoid looking like a total fool by giving someone the present they gave to you in the first place.
Second, ensure the gift has no identifying features or personalised elements. Gifting someone an item that was clearly meant for you is a sure-fire way to get found out.
Third, don’t regift a present nobody wants. If you receive a bad present, get rid of it, don’t pass the problem onto someone else.
Finally, don’t get caught out. While it may be a cost-effective strategy, if you are found to be regifting, you will likely lose face. So be smart about it.
Managing Christmas on a budget: don’t buy what you can’t afford
This tip is at the core of managing your finances and sticking to a budget. While you may have your eye on the perfect gift, if it’s out of your price range, do not over-extend yourself.
At the end of the day, while showing someone you care through a great gift is admirable, it shouldn’t come at the cost of your financial health.
Make sure you shop around though as you may be able to find the item at a better price somewhere else. Maybe even consider buying second-hand. If you’ve exhausted those options though, your best idea is to start saving your pennies and wait until the person’s next birthday or even the following Christmas.
If there is something you just must have and you’ll stop at nothing to acquire it, a personal loan may be a viable strategy to help cover your cash shortfall. Monzi’s lender-finder service makes it convenient to be matched with lenders offering personal loans.
You might be able to get the cash you need today while spreading the costs over the upcoming months.
Hunt down the best deal
This tip is Money Saving 101 and is great advice all year round. Around Christmas though, it takes on extra significance.
In the lead up to the big day, you’ll be buying food, drinks, presents, decorations, toys and the list goes on. With all the money you will be spending, it pays to shop around.
Unless you’re looking for a specific product, most items can be bought from a number of different places. Whether it’s online or in a store, buying an item from the first place you find it is a sure way to cost yourself money.
To make your life easier, if you’re shopping online there are a number of comparison websites out there that can make finding the best deal a breeze.
If you really want to maximise your savings consider shopping at discount chains, avoid brand names or even buy second-hand. Most of the time, you won’t even notice the difference.
If you’re a member of a supermarket’s loyalty program, using your points can help you save money on your Christmas food shopping. Exchange your points for gift cards or discounts and you can cut down your food bill quite considerably.
Rather than cashing in your points throughout the year, save them. Once December rolls around, you’ll have a bank of points you can lean on to help make your costs a little bit more manageable. You could even make Christmas a little more extravagant with the money you’ve saved.
Lay-by and Afterpay
Instead of paying the full purchase price when you buy a gift, why not spread the costs to make them easier to manage?
Lay-by and Afterpay provide two convenient payment alternatives that mean buying gifts won’t compromise your budget.
You might be able to receive the item today, while the purchase is divided into a number of regular repayments made over a period of weeks or months.
That way, you can still do Christmas on a budget and afford the gifts that you’ve had your eye on for a while.
Although, keep in mind that Monzi is unable to provide any guarantees and you would have to consult each vendor in regards to their lay-by policy or relationship with Afterpay.
Make some money: Christmas on a budget done differently
Rather than trying to save your money, why not try to make some money? We all have stuff lying around the house that we don’t need or use and could potentially sell for a tidy profit.
A good rule to follow is to ask yourself “have I used this item in the last year?” If the answer is no, there’s a good chance you don’t need it and it’s simply taking up space in your house.
If you’ve only got a few items to offload, Facebook Marketplace is the place to go. You can post ads for free and have people contact you directly. There’s no need to go through third parties and you can negotiate a deal that works for you.
On the other hand, if you’ve been hoarding junk for a while and have a range of items you’d like to move on, a garage sale could be a good idea. Post your flyers around the neighbourhood and let the people come to you. If it all goes to plan, you can make a few hundred dollars for a morning’s work.
Plan your travel early
If you’re looking to get away for Christmas or travelling to see family, booking your tickets early is crucial. The Christmas period is renowned for being the most expensive time of the year to travel and last minute fares can be extortionate.
So, start making your plans now. Through October and November nail down how and where you’re going to spend the Christmas period. As soon as your plans are set, get online and buy your tickets. That way, come December, you won’t have to decide between compromising your budget and seeing your family.
Like with all products, make sure you shop around. There are plenty of great comparison websites out there so you can ensure you get the best possible deal. Compare airlines and flight times to identify the most cost-effective strategy.
Finally, don’t be afraid to travel on a budget airline. While you may need to sacrifice some comfort, at the end of the day, all you’re trying to do is get from A to B. You’ll save money and still get where you need to go.
Christmas on a budget: surviving New Year’s Eve
With Christmas inevitably comes New Year. While the dawn of a new year is something to celebrate, if you’re on a budget it can be tricky to balance fun with financial responsibility.
While we all want to spend a night on the town, if you’re buying dinner, drinks and paying for an Uber, it can be an expensive night. So, why not do things a little differently?
Get together with your friends and come up with a different plan of attack. A great idea is to have a little get-together at your place. Invite a few of your closest friends, divide the food and drink responsibilities up evenly and enjoy the night.
A night out is one way to have fun but it’s not the only way. Be creative and try to find a way to make your night memorable and enjoyable without having to spend too much. We promise it’s possible.
Once you’ve dealt with Christmas 2019, start planning for next year. By putting away just a few dollars a week you could turn Christmas 2020 into quite the celebration.
Even if you’re not focusing on saving for Christmas, developing good saving habits is always a good idea.
Open a savings account with a competitive interest rate and try to make regular deposits throughout the year. If you’re disciplined, there’s a good chance you’ll have a few extra dollars to spend come December. Also, if anything goes wrong for you financially, there will be no need to borrow money as you’ll have a nice little savings nest egg to fall back on.
If you’re really proactive, shop the sales throughout the year. Rather than buying all your presents in December, if you pick up a gift here and there through the year you can spread out your costs making them much more manageable.
Christmas on a budget: do it your way
When it comes down to it, you can do Christmas 1000 different ways. While there’s the tried and true, traditional approach, there’s nothing stopping you from doing it your way.
Want to cut costs? Do it.
Hate turkey? Don’t eat it. Get creative. Make a meal you want to eat.
Don’t want to exchange gifts? That’s OK, it shouldn’t be an obligation.
If you’re trying to save money it’s really simple to do Christmas on a budget. Consider the hacks we’ve outlined and decide which of them work best for you. You never know, this could be the best Christmas you’ve ever had.