Christmas can be a wonderful time of year. Spending quality time with your extended family and friends, enjoying holidays, offering presents to loved ones, and certainly the grand Christmas lunch! It’s undeniably a time for giving, and with this comes expenses. It’s very easy to go overboard with getaways, gifts, and enticing foods; to let your hair down and delight in the spirit of Christmas. The bottom line is, though, that the silly season ultimately passes and a lot of us are left with the stress of considerable credit card balances. Some families spend months trying to pay off their Christmas debts, while others end up in much deeper water.

Although some people have the financial ability to shower their families with high-end gifts and lavish celebrations, many of us should be conscientious to spend within our means so our Christmas joy can continue smoothly into the New Year. So with this being said, I want to share with you some effective ways of celebrating Christmas, without breaking the bank.

  1. Set a Budget

Even though it may sound cliché, it’s paramount that you determine a budget and adhere to it. Prepare a list of all the presents you’ll be giving and calculate the total amount. Most of the time, it will be a lot more than you figured. Use this as motivation to think outside the box (pardon the pun!) and make some changes so you can stick to your budget. You could have a yard sale and sell items that aren’t being used any longer, speak with friends and family about a setting price limit for presents, or perhaps consider making gifts yourself! ASIC has published a terrific app to control your Christmas spending called TrackMySPEND (https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/) which I’m confident many of you would find valuable.

  1. Shop Online

While lots of people find excitement in wandering through department stores and basking in the brilliant Christmas displays, almost all the same goods are offered on the internet at more affordable prices. Use comparative shopping websites such as Google Shopping, PriceGrabber, or Nextag to find what you’re trying to find. These websites are exceptionally competitive and will usually have discounts that can save you a bunch. Although shopping online will be cheaper, you have to take extra precaution to ensure you get what you paid for.

  1. Rethink your Christmas Cards

If you are among the many people who send Christmas cards to all your friends and family, you’ll have an idea that the costs of this exercise can be pretty expensive. It’s no surprise that only some of your friends and family will actually keep these cards so it’s basically just money down the drain. As an alternative, why not send a family Christmas video message online? There are lots of apps on smart phones and tablets that enable you to send quirky and entertaining Christmas videos that can be sent out digitally at no charge at all. Additionally, you can always create your own Christmas cards with personalised messages and have your kids draw pictures to make them super special!

  1. Wrapping Pape

An exquisitely wrapped gift can make a significant difference, even with the cheapest of gifts. Christmas paper can be rather pricey, so consider purchasing plain brown paper and adding a festive ribbon from a craft shop which will look much nicer than Christmas paper. You can even recycle brown paper bags that are often given at clothing stores. On the other hand, consider buying plain green, gold or red paper which can also be used as birthday gifts throughout the year. Remember, a few department stores will wrap your gift completely free, so don’t hesitate to ask!

As you can see, Christmas festivities doesn’t need to break the bank. Sadly, however, lots of folks spend beyond their means and end up in financial hardship in the New Year. If you end up in this position, it’s better to seek professional advice sooner rather than later. There are many solutions available to you; all you need is the right advice. For any advice on financial hardship, get in touch with the specialists at Bankruptcy Experts by calling 1300 795 575, or alternatively visit our website for more information: www.bankruptcyexperts.com.au