The final countdown to Christmas and the summer holiday season has begun, which can mean supercharged spending and sometimes additional stress, too. While the end of one year and the start of the next should be a time of relaxation, the lead-up can be both frenzied and expensive, particularly with the cost of living rising.
There are ways to have a budget-friendly holiday season, though, with the right last-minute planning. Consider these tips.
- Set an 11th-hour budget for all holiday costs
If you haven’t set a spending plan, think about everything you need to buy for Christmas, New Year’s Eve and the summer break and estimate how much it will cost. Consider documenting what you purchased and spent last year in a spreadsheet and search online for up-to-date prices. Then, do some personalised research on where you can rein in costs.
- Be strict with your spending cap
Once you’ve established how much you’re planning to spend, track what you buy and look for ways to stay within the budget. These may include shopping via catalogues, using apps for grocery specials, and buying food in early December to beat the pre-Christmas rush.
- Find ways to reduce the cost of gifts, without being a Grinch
There are many ways to cut down spending on presents, including:
- Having a gift-free Christmas, except for the kids
- Setting up a Secret Santa/Kris Kringle, where everyone buys for one person with a pre-assigned budget
- Giving pre-loved or recycled gifts
- Delaying the purchase of presents for friends or relatives you won’t see immediately until after Christmas Day.
- Cater to your budget
For many families, one of the biggest holiday costs is food and drink. Whether you’re catering for a small or large group of people, it’s easy to overspend with inflated Christmas and New Year prices. There are a few ways to reduce the burden, including:
- Reconsidering the traditional menu and substituting less-popular items for produce at inflated prices. For example, you could swap a turkey for a chicken, create a plant-based menu or try to find recipes to suit items already in the pantry
- Asking guests to bring a plate of food and their own drinks
- Keeping the invite list to closest family and friends
- Buying wholesale or getting your food from markets.
- Start planning for next year
Once you begin tracking what you’re spending, it’ll make next year’s Christmas and New Year planning much easier. You’ll have a template of your indicative costs and be able to keep notes on where you can potentially trim your margins next year.
For now, enjoy the final sprint before the holiday season officially begins.
General advice only.