How to have a budget-friendly Christmas
How to have a budget-friendly Christmas
Christmas can be pretty stressful when your bank balance isn’t exactly massive, especially if you've got a large family to shop for. Shopping on a budget is a good idea at any time, but there are always certain things throughout the year that can make this difficult.

Some people can get quite competitive when buying Christmas gifts, and we all feel that desire to please our family and friends. Both of these factors can make buying great gifts at Christmas time a bit of a chore. The following tips may help you avoid a post-Christmas burnout.


Remember, Christmas isn't anywhere near as important as it's hyped up to be

Officially, there are 12 days of Christmas, but for the majority of those who celebrate it, the magic will have worn off by lunchtime on Boxing Day at the latest.

The truth is that no matter what you buy for somebody, after a day or two, it will simply become part of their ‘stuff’.

Most of the pressure you feel about buying gifts is all in your head. Your gift should be based on how you think your friend or family member would feel about having the item given to them, not on how much you think they might like you for giving it to them, because let’s be honest... they're not going to remember.


Start preparing early

This is actually two things. First, you already know Christmas is on the way. You know this because Coles and Woolies won't let you forget, filling their stores with reminders as early as August. So really, you should start planning and saving for Christmas shopping as early as possible, and then it will come as less of a shock to the bank account.

Many banks offer so-called ‘Christmas Club accounts’ especially for this purpose, but you should always make sure your money can be accessed well before Christmas Eve. Nobody should ever do their Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve.

The second part of this is that you have the opportunity to start thinking early about what your friend or family member is likely to want or need by December. This way you can compare products, locate suppliers, and find the best price. It's the thought that counts, so they say.


Improvise

Have you ever seen those ridiculously over-priced gift baskets and hampers offered in supermarkets and department stores? There's sometimes one or two things in there you might like, and the rest of it is just silly things like jars of preserved figs in goat bladders, or whatever. Why subject your friends and family to that kind of torture when you can make your own gift baskets that are made especially for them?

A cheap straw basket, a bit of cellophane, and some ribbon from a craft shop shouldn't set you back more than five dollars, and you can personally select every item that goes into it. It's a lower cost with less waste, and it's a gift you can really feel good about because you put so much thought into the selection.


Consider teaming up on more expensive gifts

Remember what we said before about it not mattering much what you buy, as long as it's something you're happy for the other person to have?

Well then, it also shouldn't matter if the gift came only from you, or from a group of people who put their money together to buy it. It's the happiness of the other person upon receiving it that really matters. If the three wise men had been just a little wiser, they would have put their money together and bought more gold, and then we wouldn't have had to sit through that awful Top Gear nativity reenactment.

Here's an example: Little Timmy wants a bike that costs $300, but nobody in the family is prepared to spend $300 on one gift. What's going to make him more happy?  Six individuals spending $50 each to give him assorted mediocre toys, or the same individuals pooling their resources and buying him that bike?


It's possible to save on Christmas travel

Christmas is the worst time to travel for many reasons, especially because of the expensive cost. But what you may not know, is that if you really have to travel at Christmas, you may be able to avoid paying higher prices.

Many airlines, car rental agencies, and other travel services offer vouchers that are good for travel from A to B, not a specific monetary amount. By purchasing one of these vouchers in advance, and then using the voucher to book online, you could get your travel at significantly under the ‘Christmas price’.

Also, don't forget about loyalty rewards programs and VIP memberships you may have. These can provide significant savings, particularly when it comes to accommodation costs.


Tis the season to be jolly

Christmas should be joyful for everyone, however making it all about the material things can take the magic away from the holiday. If all else fails, consider converting to Puritanism. The Puritans believed it to be sinful to engage in any merriment, including feasting or gift giving, at Christmas, instead believing that the 25th of December should instead be a day of fasting and humiliation. Sounds fun! Now, where’s the turkey?
05 / 12 / 2016