Christmas falls on the same date every year, but without fail, it always manages to sneak up and take us all by surprise. Before we know it, November has passed, Christmas parties are booked, the Christmas tree goes up and presents start piling up under the tree. It’s a magical but stressful time — there’s much to do and, unfortunately, a lot of money to spend.
Christmas can be hard on our bank accounts but setting up a Christmas budget can make all the difference to how our savings look in the New Year.
Here, we share some tips for creating a Christmas budget.
Setting up a dedicated Christmas budget
Christmas shopping can be fun or frustrating, depending on how prepared you are for the holiday season. Setting up a Christmas budget ahead of time can make gift shopping simple and stress-free — here are some tips to help you set a budget and stick to it:
- Figure out what’s affordable and set a limit. Create a spreadsheet of upcoming bills and financial commitments and see what’s left over from your income. From here, you can set a gift shopping limit.
- Make a list. Open the notes app on your smartphone and make a list of friends, loved ones and work colleagues you want to spoil with presents this Christmas. We recommend jotting down some gift ideas and price limits for each person to see what it adds up to, then comparing it to your shopping limit. Is the list affordable? Does it come in under budget?
- Consider all Christmas costs — not just the gifts. While Christmas budgets normally revolve around gifts, it’s important to remember other festivities like Christmas lunches and dinners, snacks, stocking fillers, decorations, wrapping paper and even work events - these smaller items can add up.
- Consider your real income over Christmas. Does your workplace close over Christmas? Do you have annual leave to cover it, or do you have to take unpaid leave? If your income will be affected over the holiday season, make sure to factor this into your budget.
- Create a Christmas Club Account. Too late to start saving? It’s never too late to start saving for next Christmas. Our Christmas Club Account help our members save for the holiday season and only allow account access between November 1st and January 31st, so you can resist the urge to overspend during the year. Plus, with zero account fees and a competitive interest rate, you can watch your savings grow.
What to do when you’re close to hitting your budget
Christmas can still be as fun and festive as it always is, but you may need to make a few small, short-term changes to your usual spending habits to win back control over your Christmas budget:
- Can you take an extra shift or two at work before Christmas?
- Are there any unnecessary costs you could cut from your weekly budget, even for a week or two?
- How are your other budgets? Are there savings leftover you could use to your advantage?
- Are there any disused items at home you could sell on via online marketplaces like Gumtree or eBay?
Even the smallest changes can have an impressive impact when it comes to saving. Just remember — tightening up on savings around Christmas might be an inconvenient adjustment, but it’ll all be worth it when there are smiles on everyone’s faces around the tree on Christmas morning.
Other tips for an affordable Christmas
With a Christmas budget in place, it’s time to start shopping and preparing. Below, we’ve shared a few extra tips for keeping costs low, and within budget, in the lead-up to Christmas.
Follow the four gift rule
To keep the gift budget down, consider trying the “four gift rule”, i.e., getting the kids something they want; something they need; something to wear; and something to read. This will give you some gift-shopping guidelines and lower your chances of going overboard and blowing the Christmas budget.
Plus, if you have multiple children, they’ll all get the same number of gifts on Christmas morning.
Wait for sale events and do your gift shopping early
Want to save a few extra dollars on gift shopping and beat the Christmas rush? Sales events can help you get the shopping done sooner rather than later, and save on express shipping costs.
Consider a collaborative Christmas
Rather than taking on the financial burden alone as a host, have a chat with friends and family about sharing the load — we think you’ll find many will be on board to save some money this Christmas.
Here are some ideas to make Christmas a team effort:
- Secret Santa. Of course, the kids will still get their own little treats, but for the adults, Secret Santa is always a fun and affordable way to give gifts. Everyone gets one person to buy for, and usually, there’s a price limit of $20, $50 or $100.
- A combined food budget. No matter who’s hosting Christmas this year, we suggest setting up a food budget that everyone can chip in for. The collaborative amount will help ease the cost of a Christmas breakfast, lunch or dinner, and there will be more than enough food to go around.
- A treat challenge. Want to make things a little more interesting (and delicious)? Set up a challenge among the cooks and chefs in your family and see who can deliver the cutest or most impressive desserts and treats to the dinner table. This is also a fun challenge for the kids to get involved with.
- Get everyone to bring a dish. If you want to fill up the dinner table on a budget, ask everyone to bring a dish to the occasion. Set up a group chat with the extended family and decide who’s going to bring what, e.g., meats, veggies, bread, side dishes, snacks, and desserts. Everyone can serve up their own meals on Christmas Day, and costs will stay low.
Merry Christmas from the team at Gateway Bank
We hope some of our Christmas budgeting tips make for a very merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year. Gateway Bank will be here for all your financial needs over the holiday season and beyond into 2023.