How to spend less and relax more this Christmas

How to have financial freedom this Christmas

It’s hard to believe, but Christmas is almost upon us again. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so they say, but the sad reality is when Santa is coming down the chimney most budgeters’ plans go up in smoke.

Apart from the obvious expenses of gifts for loved ones and the Christmas feast, I often find that it’s the increased downtime that takes its toll on the wallet. The festive season is often a time to catch up with friends, and the extra coffees, lunches and ice creams here and there wreak havoc on a budget because they’re expenses you don’t normally have. Even driving to the beaches results in higher petrol costs, and entertainment for the kids can be a huge drain on savings. Before you know it, your outgoings have doubled or even tripled, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Planning your big Christmas expenses NOW is the key to avoiding budget shock and actually enjoying your Christmas for once. Let’s take a look at the three big expenses of Christmas and what you should be doing about them right now.

Saving on a Christmas Holiday

If you’re planning on getting away for Christmas, now is the time to book everything to get the best rates. Accommodation prices will only go up towards December as there’s less room at the inn, so decide on a plan and compare prices online before you book. Check out online deal websites to get the best rate for your chosen accommodation. There are often some incredible bargains available.

Think about how much more petrol you’re going to be using and start putting aside extra cash for it immediately. It’s often something we overlook as a necessary evil, but for interstate road trips petrol can end up being one of your biggest overheads.

Set a daily budget for food. It’s very easy to wander into restaurants that are outside of your budget thanks to a “why not, it’s Christmas!” mentality. Knowing beforehand how much you can realistically spend on food will stop you from overspending.

Additional travel costs require some thought. What about insurance? Will you need to hire anything? Will you need to use a credit card, incurring unforseen interest? Sit down and carefully think about all the little extras that travelling might create.

Once you’ve reached your destination(s) you’re not going to want to sit in your accommodation all day, so budget beforehand for daytrips. Research the museums, water parks and attractions that you plan to visit and check their entrance fees. If there’s anywhere that’s too expensive then strip it from the itinerary now to avoid later disappointment.

Saving on Christmas Gifts

Write down a complete list of everyone you’ll be buying presents for and set a limit per person. Keep an eye out for bargains in sales which are now ongoing – make the most of them to find discounted presents but don’t go over your limit. Finding presents online is a smart move, and if you buy them now on eBay then there’s enough time for items to come directly from China. You can often find gifts at a fraction of their cost by buying direct.

Saving on Christmas Feasting

A big cost in itself, if you’re planning on having a big Christmas feast then it’s smart to plan and prepare for it months in advance. Think about how many people will be coming and whether they will bring any food with them. Come up with a plan for what will be served and what your budget is for each item. Write down this budget and stick to it.

Of special note is the cost of alcohol, which can often cost as much or more than the food itself. I suggest that you buy the alcohol gradually over the next two months, taking advantage of any deals that you see. The important thing here is that you’re not going to have a last minute December budget shock when the time comes around.

Christmas is incredibly expensive, and in turn creates a lot of pressure and stress for frugal families that haven’t adequately prepared. So it’s NOW that you need to prepare your Christmas finances, before you wake up with a Christmas financial hangover that’ll last to next Easter. With all of these expenses either saved for or already paid by the end of November your Christmas period is going to be significantly less stressful, leaving you to relax and enjoy the holidays with your friends and family.