Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. Spending quality time with your family, going on holidays, giving presents to loved ones, and of course the legendary Christmas meal! It’s unquestionably a time for giving, and with this comes expenses. It’s very easy to overdo it with family trips, presents, and heavenly foods; to let your hair down and enjoy the spirit of Christmas. The reality is, though, that the silly season eventually passes and many of us are left with the strain of sizeable credit card balances. Some families spend months trying to settle their Christmas debts, while others end up in much deeper water.

 

Although some individuals have the financial capacity to pamper their families with high-end gifts and lavish functions, many of us need to be vigilant to spend within our means so our Christmas joy can smoothly sail into the New Year. So with this being said, I’d like to share with you some useful ways of celebrating Christmas, without breaking the bank.

 

  1. Set a Budget

 

Even though it may sound cliché, it’s extremely important that you set a budget and follow it. Prepare a list of all the presents you’ll be giving and calculate the total amount. Most of the time, it will be much more than you envisioned. Use this as motivation to think outside the box (pardon the pun!) and make some adjustments so you can stick to your budget. You could have a yard sale and sell possessions that aren’t being used anymore, speak with friends and family about a setting price limit for presents, or perhaps consider making gifts yourself! ASIC has released a fabulous app to monitor your Christmas spending called TrackMySPEND (https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/) which I’m confident many of you would find useful.

 

  1. Shop Online

 

Even though many individuals find enjoyment in strolling through department stores and basking in the spectacular Christmas displays, almost all the same products are available on the web at much cheaper prices. Utilise comparative shopping websites such as Google Shopping, Nextag, or PriceGrabber to locate what you’re searching for. These websites are highly competitive and will almost always have discounts that can save you a bunch. Whilst shopping online will be more cost-effective, you need to take extra precaution to ensure you get what you paid for.

 

  1. Rethink your Christmas Cards

 

If you’re one of the many families who send Christmas cards to all your friends and family, you’ll have an idea that the costs of this exercise can be quite expensive. It’s no surprise that only a few of your family and friends will actually keep these cards so it’s essentially just money down the drain. As an alternative, why not send a family Christmas video message online? There are plenty of apps on smart phones and tablets that enable you to send fun and entertaining Christmas videos that can be sent digitally at no cost at all. Conversely, you can always create your own Christmas cards with personalised messages and have your kids draw pictures to make them super special!

 

  1. Wrapping Paper

 

A nicely wrapped present can make a dramatic difference, even with the cheapest of gifts. Christmas paper can be quite expensive, so look at buying plain brown paper and adding a festive ribbon from a craft shop which will look much better than Christmas paper. You can even recycle brown paper bags that are normally given at clothing stores. Additionally, consider purchasing plain red, green, or gold paper which can also be used as birthday gifts throughout the year. Don’t forget, a number of department stores will wrap your gift for free, so don’t hesitate to ask!

 

As you can see, Christmas celebrations doesn’t need to break the bank. Unfortunately, however, lots of individuals spend beyond their means and end up in financial hardship in the New Year. If you find yourself in this position, it’s better to seek professional advice sooner rather than later. There are many options available to you; all you need is the right advice. For any support on financial hardship, talk to the specialists at Bankruptcy Experts Rockingham by phoning 1300 795 575, or alternatively visit our website for more information: www.bankruptcyexpertsrockingham.com.au