Christmas is the time of year to celebrate and enjoy time with family and loved ones. On the other hand this can easily become a time of stress, due to financial commitments and pressures. Even though there are only a couple of weeks to go it’s never too late to save money this year, start by creating a spending plan for Christmas. (We prefer to call it a spending plan rather than a budget!)
Always make a list of Christmas gifts to offer
There’s nothing like having a list of Christmas gifts to work with: in addition to being practical and avoid overspending, it allows you to define at the beginning how much you want to spend with each recipient. Once you have compiled this list of names, group names according to spending amounts – we already know that we always have a few more expensive gifts than others, and everything becomes easier as you have an immediate picture of upcoming expenses. In addition, these initial accounts will also allow you to make adjustments in the value of a gift if you think it is beyond your budget and you can work out if you have some room to manoeuvre in case you wish to get some extra money for Christmas presents.
Make a list of other Christmas expenses
Remember to make a list of all expenses, without forgetting important aspects such as:
- Christmas decorations
- Christmas tree (including whether to buy a real pine or not)
- Wrapping paper, ribbons, bows
- Labels, adhesive tape
- Christmas cards, envelopes, stamps
- Shipping fees for gifts that will be send by mail
- Food for the festive season (Christmas dinners, Christmas Eve night,
- Christmas Day, chocolates, sweets, etc)
- Clothing/footwear for the Christmas holidays
- Travel expenses in case you will be spending Christmas away from home.
Examine your budget
Now that you know your costs, you need to check your funds available for Christmas and analyse your savings. It involves answering one or both of these questions: How much money do you have to spend this Christmas? How much money do you want to save this Christmas? From there, and knowing what is the final value you have to spend during the month of December, establish how much you want to spend on each area of Christmas expenses, correcting the values that you may have already outlined in the preparation of lists of Christmas gifts and expenditure.
In order to “stretch” their available funds, many kiwis are selling their unwanted gold and silver jewellery to Gold Smart. With the high price of gold and silver you would be surprised with how much you can earn to make your Christmas even more exciting.
Think and research before you buy
A Christmas spending plan is not just a piece of paper with names and numbers. It implies action and, if you want to save money (or at least avoid debt), you must research before buying. Once you know you have a certain amount to spend per person, work out an idea of what you will buy for each person. By knowing in advance what you want to give to each person in your list, it will be easier to search the best place to purchase each gift, whether online or in a physical store. In addition, you should keep an eye on brochures and discount coupons to save you money on everything you need for Christmas.
Follow the Christmas spending plan no matter what
Once you’ve created a spending plan for Christmas, now comes the most important part: Follow it! Although this is not always easy, it is crucial if you want to avoid unnecessary debt and even save some money. Some tips to help fulfill the Christmas budget:
- Always take the list with you!
- If possible, bring the exact amount of money in cash you wish to spend. This will avoid overspending on eftpos and credit cards and unnecessary purchases.
- Avoid shopping in the hours/days that you know it will be very crowded because in these environments shoppers are prone to impulse and/or unnecessary buying. The earlier you start the better.
- Try Christmas shopping all in one day or at least concentrating shopping in large blocks, thus avoiding extra costs of fuel, parking, etc.
- If you shop online, avoid the credit card as much as possible, opting instead to pay via ATM, bank transfer or PayPal. In addition, try to group as many items to avoid multiple shipping charges.
- Keep a record of all expenditures carefully and follow your Christmas spending plan to not to exceed your limit. When you finish your Christmas shopping, keep the budget to review, and to use it next year.
Good savings and Merry Christmas, from Gold Smart!