CHRISTMAS can be a financially stressful time for many people and that takes the fun out of the festive season. The funny thing about Christmas is it occurs every year and at the same time every year! So with a little bit of planning you can take the stress out and stay debt free.
Write a list of the friends and family members you wish to give a present to. Next decide on your total budget for Christmas presents. Next to each name add a maximum dollar value for the gift and ensure the total does not exceed you budget! If you have ideas for gifts start listing them now—it will help your shopping trips to be more focused.
* Stick to the plan
Avoid impulse buying. That stereo might be a great bargain but if it is over your budget you need to keep walking.
* Start now
Rather than waiting until two weeks before Christmas and spending all your money in a short period of time start buying now. It is much easier to afford one gift each payday than 10 all at once. Find a good hiding place in your cupboard!
* Use lay—buy
Credit Cards are easy and convenient but if you struggle with debt over Christmas leave them at home! If you have started shopping early you can pay a small amount each payday off your lay-by without going into debt. Keep you spending manageable.
* Have a saving plan
Have a separate bank account for Christmas savings.
* Think outside the square
It really is the thought that counts so think outside the square. People love gifts that have a personal touch to them. Make Christmas chocolates, cookies, jam etc to give to friends, give a gift voucher for 10 hours of babysitting, give a voucher for 5 lawn mowing afternoons (to be provided by you).
* Involve your family
Discuss your plan to stay debt free with your family and discuss ways that the whole family can be involved. There are no rules—find something that works for your family and keeps Christmas fun. One popular idea is to not buy gifts for all the adults in the family—just the kids. The adults each select a name and buy a gift for that adult on behalf of the whole family.
* Another coffee?
Start becoming aware of what you spend on "little extras" each week - coffee is my favourite place to start. Buying just 1 coffee a day can cost you $15-$20 per week â€¦ buying lunch each day at work can cost you at least $30 per week. I think you get the point.
If you are serious about keeping out of debt this Christmas start taking your lunch to work or having instant coffee â€¦. put the money you save into your Christmas account.