Postage, all that food and gifts are all more expensive than in previous years. For many people it's still tough financially with unemployment and underemployment being major contributors. How can you keep the costs of Christmas down without having a Scrooge-like Christmas?
Top tips for keeping costs down this Christmas:
1. Work out how much you need for the essentials (food and drink, the usual weekly expenses). Then see what you can afford to spend on top.
2. Set a spending budget for gifts per person and stick to it. I found that Christmas was getting ridiculously expensive with partner gifts because I had no budget. Gifts are just a gesture and therefore don't need to break the bank. In today's day and age we more often than not buy what we want during the year so it's important not to get caught up in over doing it at Christmas.
3. Look online. Online marketplaces such as eBay can provide good discounts on many items that would make great presents and you can have the item delivered straight to family and friends avoiding long queues at the post office.
4. Go for funny or personalised gifts. These are often cheaper but may be appreciated even more than an expensive gift.
5. It's time to get tough and do a cull of who you need to buy gifts for. How many of us buy gifts because we feel obliged to do so. The reality is that often buying gifts becomes a habit and we don't actually know what our sister's husband might actually want. Why not save everyone the stress and pain of dealing with unwanted gifts, excessive costs of postage and endless time standing in queues. Why not suggest that in lieu of gifts that you put the money towards a weekend catch up later in the year, that you only buy gifts for the kids and not the adults, that gifts need to be purchased from a charity or why not just do a Kris Kringle. Or you can just suggest that from now on let's not do gifts at Christmas. A phone call is enough.
6. Instead of gifts why doesn't everyone just bring a plate of food for Christmas lunch. You save money on gifts, share the cost of catering for Christmas and everyone gets to feel involved.
7. Make things yourself… consider your skills and put them to use for a truly special present – anything from art to handmade decorations and edible gifts. Handmade decorations look traditional and can be enjoyable to make while handmade presents are filled with love and can easily be personalised.
8. Check out the charity shops. It puts a whole new spin on Christmas if the good are to be sourced from Charity and at least you know the money is going to a good cause.
So, the best way to manage your money for Christmas is to start planning now. Don't forget, Christmas is supposed to be a time for Celebration so do what you can to take the stress out of it.