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The ultimate guide to Christmas shopping on a budget

Christmas! ‘Tis the season to be jolly, but if you’re not careful, Christmas spending can spiral out of control like a runaway sleigh. Let’s face it, Christmas can be an expensive time. However, with a bit of foresight and planning, MyBudget is here to ensure you enjoy the festive season without dreading your January bank statement.

Creating a Christmas budget is crucial to avoiding a post-holiday financial hangover. It allows you to focus on what truly matters, spending quality time with loved ones, without the stress of overspending. A well-planned budget also ensures you can fully embrace the holiday spirit, knowing each gift and festive treat is accounted for. Ultimately, the greatest gift you can give yourself is a stress-free Christmas!

How to budget for Christmas

We all start every Christmas season with the best intentions of finishing our shopping early, but somehow find ourselves in a last-minute frenzy a week before the big day. The good news is that with a few months ahead of us, now it’s the perfect opportunity to get ahead of the game and conquer this festive season with a solid budget. So, if you’re already thinking about Christmas, we’ve got some fantastic saving tips just for you.

Set a limit

Start by setting a realistic spending limit that fits comfortably within your financial means. Remember to always prioritise essential bills over any Christmas expenses. The first step is understanding your overall expenses. Do you have a budget for daily life? If you don’t, it’s ok! Our free personal budget template will help get you started.

Once you’ve figured out what you can afford to spend on Christmas, it’s time for the fun part— planning gifts!

Make a list (and check it twice!)

It’s not only Santa who needs a list at Christmas time. To keep yourself on track, start by creating a clear list of:

  • Who you need to get gifts for
  • What you’re getting them, and
  • How much you have to spend on each person.

A great way to help you create a Christmas shopping list and budget is by downloading our free Christmas budget calculator, which is designed to streamline your holiday planning. Simply input your expenses and budget allocations, and watch as it calculates how much you need to save. Use this handy tool to adjust your spending and create a Christmas budget that’s both practical and achievable.

Regardless of your method, ensure every expense is accounted for to avoid last-minute panic buys and maintain control over your spending.

Find more money to save

Don’t go into debt this Christmas using credit cards and buy now, pay later services. Finding extra money hiding in your spending habits is a great way to raise extra funds.

  • Go over your bank statements for the last few months and highlight any overspending areas. Even little changes can help to free up spare cash for your Christmas savings
  • Are you expecting a tax refund? As soon as your refund hits your account, consider setting some, or all of it aside
  • If you’re struggling to stay on top of your bills, it may be time to talk with your creditors about payment arrangements you can afford. A MyBudget money expert can help you create a budget and can even negotiate with your creditors for you.

Automate your Christmas savings

Automate your Christmas savings by setting up a dedicated account just for the festive season. For MyBudget clients, integrating this into your budget may already be streamlined, but it’s always wise to touch base with your money coach for any tweaks.

If you are not a MyBudget client, most banking apps make it easy-peasy with automation features that can divert a portion of your earnings straight into a savings account. This ensures your holiday funds stay untapped until you’re ready to jingle all the way to the checkout, making budgeting a breeze.

Do your Christmas shopping early

Get ahead with your Christmas shopping by taking advantage of sales events like end-of-financial-year and Black Friday. Starting early not only ensures your online purchases arrive in plenty of time but also keeps you from making impulse purchases. When online shopping, don’t forget to scour the web for coupon codes and take advantage of cashback services for your favourite stores.

For budget-friendly gifts, explore Marketplace for gently used bikes, toys, fashion items, or even furniture. Choosing preloved items not only saves lots of money but also adds a unique touch to your holiday gifts, all while reducing our impact on fast fashion and overconsumption. Early shopping means you get to kick back and savour the holiday season without the frantic last-minute dashes or extravagant spending, making for a smoother and more joyful Christmas all around!

Manage expectations

Instead of feeling the pressure to match past festive overspending, it’s smart to openly discuss budgeting within the whole family. You’re not alone in wanting to manage your holiday budget sensibly. By setting equal price limits and sharing financial expectations, everyone can enjoy the Christmas season without unnecessary strain.

Be honest about your income

If your workplace shuts down for Christmas and you’re facing unpaid leave, it’s crucial to factor these changes into your holiday budget. This way, you’re prepared for any financial dips during the festive season, keeping your financial plans on track.

Also, when buying gifts, remember the old-english proverb: “Cut your coat according to your cloth,” emphasising the importance of living within your means. It’s essential to show your love without spending more than you actually earn.

Share the load this Christmas

Divide and conquer this Christmas by divvying up the tasks among your nearest and dearest.

  • Coordinate Christmas meals: Have each person contribute their specialty dish, creating a memorable feast without overspending.
  • Secret Santa: Enjoy thoughtful gift-giving without the stress of buying for everyone individually.
  • Decorate as a group: Assign different areas of the house to your loved ones to spread festive cheer and make decorating a collaborative effort.
  • Joint gift-giving: Pool resources for larger items, enabling meaningful gifts that everyone can enjoy together.

What other Christmas expenses should I consider?

There are lots of unexpected Christmas expenses that can sneak up on even the most organised. Beyond gifts, here are a few additional costs to keep in mind as you plan your Christmas celebrations:

  • Christmas cards and postage: don’t overlook the cost of Christmas cards and postage, it adds up quickly
  • Festive feasts: let’s not forget the delicious holiday meals, which can often lead to a higher grocery bill
  • Travel expenses: factor in any travel expenses if you’re heading home for the holidays
  • Decorations and gift wrapping: buying new decorations, wrapping paper and gift tags can also add to your expenses
  • Charitable donations: many people like to give to charities during the holiday season, so factor this into your budget if you plan to donate
  • Utilities: with more cooking and gatherings and all those twinkling lights, your utility bills may see a spike
  • Extra clothing: special outfits for parties or events may require additional spending
  • Pet care: if you have pets, consider any boarding or pet-sitting costs if you’re traveling
  • Unexpected guests: it’s always a good idea to have a couple of versatile spare gifts on hand, such as food baskets, bath and body kits, or recipe books. This way, you’re prepared for extra guests or in case you accidentally forget someone – oops!

My top 6 saving tips for a frugal festive season

  1. Budget, budget, budget: set a spending limit on gifts and start now by setting aside a bit each week to avoid the dreaded post-festive financial hangover
  2. Shop the sales: seasonal sales are an ideal time for gift shopping. Also, shop the post-Christmas sales for decorations and people you won’t be visiting until the new year
  3. Online discounts: first-time customer discounts can be your best friend. Search the web for coupon codes as soon as you add something to your cart, also remember to shop through cashback sites for that extra discount
  4. Say “No” sometimes: it’s perfectly fine to skip a few events to save some cash
  5. Avoid debt: don’t go into debt to buy Christmas gifts. The best present is your presence, not a hefty credit card bill
  6. Homemade gifts or preloved treasures: add that personal touch without breaking the bank!

What a whirlwind of festive frugality! As we inch closer to the holiday season, remember – with six months until Christmas, starting now can make all the difference to your festive spirit and budgeting game. And hey, if you find yourself overwhelmed with setting up your budget or unsure where to start. Give MyBudget a jingle on 1300 300 922 or enquire online and we’ll help you sleigh your financial goals!

Cheryl is part of the My Budget Corporate Finance team and takes care of the company’s finances with the same care that MyBudget extends to their clients budgets. She speaks from the heart about relevant financial topics, reflecting on her own personal journey through separation, single parenting, budgeting, investing and beating cancer.

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This article has been prepared for information purposes only, and does not constitute personal financial advice. The information has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any information in this article you should consider the appropriateness of the information having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.