Managing the Christmas budget

"Leave it to the last minute!" says that dangerous little voice in the back of your head.

"YOLO, there's no need to budget, just deal with it in January! Fast and loose baby!"

Let's face it, Christmas shopping has the potential to put a huge dent in your wallet. But what if we told you that you could...not...do that? We know. Revolutionary. Here are some tips on how to manage your Christmas shop.

Plan ahead

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One of the keys to budgeting is to always be prepared.

An easy tip is to take stock of what you’ve already got in your house. These days, there should be no stigma in re-gifting, because it's basically giving something that's already been thoughtfully gifted. Think of it as being a champion for the eco-warrior movement.

Hot tip: Get all your potential gifts gathered and organise who you'll give them to. Hopefully, you'll have ticked a few names off the list before you even leave the house. And remember, if you can't re-gift it this year, there's always birthdays.

Write a list, and check it twice

Making lists is easy. Right now, you're reading a listicle! Yours can be even more basic than this.

Start by breaking it down. You can make categories, like presents, food and entertainment; or by holiday, such as Christmas Day and Boxing Day. You could also list by cost ‐ $10, $20, $50. We can give you some help on what to get for each budget here.

In any case, write up a list of everything you think you'll need and check it twice. What are the essentials? What can you compromise on? Do you really need a back-up turkey?

Hot tip: Do you really, really need a celebrity’s 32nd Christmas album? Total up the cost and see if it fits within your budget. If it doesn't, see where you can substitute the bigger expenses for cheaper alternatives. Think sparkling instead of champagne, or, if you're really cutting costs, set the table for two less eaters, and tell Aunt Marg and Uncle Roy Christmas is cancelled this year. Sorted.

Track your spending

When an impulse buy is everywhere you go, it can be tough to stay within budget. One thing that can help to keep your spending under control is the Latitude app, where you can track your balances and transactions for all your cards and loans in one go – helping you rethink some of those big purchases on the day.

Recoup some of your losses

So you've got your budget and you're sticking to it, but what if you desperately need a bit of extra pocket money?

And that doesn't mean charging Uncle Pete $150 to stay over ($120 is fair). But if you're hosting your share of Christmas events, don't be afraid to cash in some of that goodwill to a dinner or two at your friends and family's houses down the line.

Start saving for next year

If you're really feeling the pinch, it might be good to look ahead to next year. You might have some re-gifts in storage, but what about savings? You can also look at using LatitudePay, making it easier to save and spread your purchase over 10 weekly payments.

Hot tip: At the end of December, total up what you've spent on Christmas supplies, then divide that number by 11. You now know how much to put away each month, so your balance is ready for when the festivities kick off next year.

Good luck!

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