It’s only October – but it’s the perfect month to start planning for Christmas holidays, so your money’s in order. But where do you start?
Planning ahead might save you
It’s never too early to start planning for the busy – and often expensive – Christmas period, Acumen’s financial adviser Lisa Dudson, and author of the newly launched The New Zealand Money Guide, says.
“If you have a plan, then you’re far less likely to overspend,” she says.
Part of that plan should include a budget. What can you afford to spend? Once you’ve worked that out, find out if you’ve got the money to cover it already, or do you need to save?
Put a plan in place about how to save the money you need over the next couple of months.
Planning and budgeting can be a great way to avoid overspending, and avoid any credit card debt, Dudson says.
Start Christmas shopping early
Ideally, you’d buy gifts throughout the year, Dudson says when you see something that someone would like and you might even make use of a sale
If you’re ‘panic-buying’ on Christmas Eve, you might overspend and when you’re stressed, you tend to not make good decisions.
But don’t panic – there’s still more than two months to start collecting up suitable presents.
This way, you can spread them out over a few paydays, and browse the shops with a bit of time up your sleeve.
Then in January, make a note to start collecting gifts throughout the year, so next Christmas you’re prepared.
Set a budget for each person’s gift, and stick to it
“If money’s tight, get creative,” Dudson says.
Think of giving family and friends coupons for a service, for example mowing their lawns, babysitting, or cooking them dinner.
“For busy parents, getting a gift of two nights’ babysitting can make their life easier,” Dudson says.
Home-made gifts are also more affordable, like preserves or baking.
If you have a big extended family, only buy for the kids, or do a Secret Santa.
You can turn Secret Santa into a fun game too. “There’s a whole experience around that and the gift could be only $30,” Dudson says.
If you’re hosting Christmas dinner, it can feel a burden – as well as cost a lot of money.
Start now thinking about your Christmas Day plan.
Look at a potluck option, where you allocate a main or dessert to each family to bring. It’s a great way of keeping costs down, Dudson says.
Buy fruit and vegetables that are in season, and avoid expensive luxuries, such as cherries or a turkey.
Alcohol can cost a lot, so tell people to bring their own.
When it comes to planning for Christmas holidays, start now. The more planning in advance you do, the less credit-card debt you’ll hopefully end up with, and the more you will enjoy the whole experience and not have the post Christmas financial blues, Dudson says.
First published 17 October 2018
Story by Claire Connell
This article does not contain any financial advice and has not taken into account any particular person’s circumstances. Before relying on it, we recommend you speak with a financial adviser. This story reflects the views of the contributor only. Content comes from sources that we consider are accurate, but we do not guarantee that the content is accurate.