For many of us, Christmas and the festive season can quickly burn through our cash. But with some clever planning and an open mind, you can avoid finding yourself in a financial hole before the new year rolls around.
Presents are a huge part of Christmas, but if you think about giving a little differently, you can avoid the stress and cost of finding the perfect gift for every family member.
If you have a large family, consider doing a Kris Kringle type of exchange, where everyone buys and receives only one gift. You're more likely to think of an amazing present when you only need one idea, instead of many, and you can cut down your shopping (and wrapping time) immensely.
Better yet, implement a no gifts at all rule. This certainly can be easier in families without very young children, but it can be a great opportunity for your family to focus on each other, cook an amazing meal and spend quality time together rather than focusing on material goods.
Research before you buy
If you do go down the gift route, try to think outside the box to score some bargains. Search for local craft and gift fairs on Facebook − it's kind of like Etsy in real life! You can pick up amazing and unique gifts, often for cheaper than big name brands, plus you're supporting small suppliers.
On the flip side, as many bricks-and-mortar retailers compete for shopper dollars, lots of retailers are bringing forward their markdowns in advance of the traditional Boxing Day sales. Use their websites to compare prices across retailers, check for price matching policies and you might be able to scoop some bargains!
If you are shopping online, be sure to do it in advance and check delivery dates. Due to the large influx of orders, many retailers will extend their usual delivery times and items may take longer than usual to arrive. You don't want to get caught out without your gifts, or be forced to pay express shipping fees to ensure it arrives on time!
Finally, if you've got any Christmas get togethers scheduled for after December 25th − we know how hard it can be to see everyone! − you could brave the post-Christmas sales and pick up your gifts then to try and save a little more.
Hold your travel plans
Almost everything associated with travelling is more expensive around the holidays. Think you can cut costs by driving instead of flying? Not only will you probably get stuck in so much traffic you'll think the savings weren't worth it, but even petrol prices climb higher during these times so you might not save as much as you expect.
While lots of companies have forced shutdowns over Christmas, if you can put off your holiday plans until later in February, you can potentially pick up a deal purchasing your package after Christmas, and you'll also enjoy a quieter holiday destination without all the tourists.
Get ahead for next year
Keep track of how much you spent on all your Christmas items this year − gifts, food, parties, everything. Then divide that number by 11 and come January, put that amount (maybe even a little extra) in a high-interest savings account and resist all urges to touch it. Next year, you won't be scrambling to finance your holiday festivities − you'll have a little Christmas nest egg ready to rely on.
Check out our sneaky ways to save article for more tips on socking away some extra cash before Christmas rolls around.