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The 12 tips of Christmas

“On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,

Three declined cards,

Two cash advances,

And thirty days in-te-rest freeeeee!”

Ever wonder what Christmas carols would sound like if they were written today? There’d probably be a lot less about piper’s piping and partridges in pear trees, and a bit more about the madness of trying to put on the perfect Christmas without breaking the bank – or going a bit mad. Perhaps an urban legend of a parent who braved a Westfield on Christmas Eve and lived to tell the tale.

If this sounds familiar, here are a few steps you can take to help reduce the financial stress of the silly season.

  1. Make a list
    Every time you hit the shops (because let’s be honest, it’ll take more than one go), make a list before you leave (but after you’ve eaten, to avoid hunger-based snack purchases). This goes for everything from gifts and Christmas Day food, to decorations and extra furniture/linens for holiday guests.
  2. Set your own budget
    You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses this Christmas. In fact, we’ll let you in on a little secret. Those families in the ads and magazines – the ones with themed outfits and perfect table settings for their gourmet feasts – don’t actually exist. So take the pressure off, and set a Christmas budget that works for you.
  3. Shop around
    Don’t limit yourself to the big city department stores, malls and supermarkets to get great gifts. Don’t forget to shop local as much as you can – often the prices are the same and it helps keep our local towns thriving. Have a look online (handy for comparison shopping!), hit the outlets, or even go second-hand.
  4. Get creative 
    When it comes to gifts, bigger (and designer branded) isn’t always better. Think handmade gifts, like food or personalised crafts. Alternatively, give an experience rather than a present – it gives the recipient something to look forward to after the holidays are over. It can be a good idea to organise a Kris Kringle or Secret Santa for your close family or friend group, so you only have to buy one present.
  5. Shop with purpose
    Set a time limit as well as a budget before you leave the house. If possible, plan in advance exactly what stores you’ll be visiting, as it’s easy to get distracted amongst the crowds and glitzy store displays.
  6. Track your spending
    Ever finish a day of holiday shopping and forget what you’ve bought? Set a reminder for yourself to check your banking app or spending tracker every few hours to keep an eye on where your money is going.
  7. Donate
    Donating money gives you a feel-good boost, and the difference your dollars can make can really put the rest of your ‘must-have’ expenses in perspective.
  8. Share the load
    If you’re hosting on Christmas Day, ask others to bring food or drinks; don’t feel like you need to bear all the costs of hosting. If you’re not hosting, offer to help out the person who is. They’ll appreciate the gesture.
  9. Avoid credit
    Take out cash or use your debit card where possible to reduce the January credit card hangover.
  10. Reduce, reuse, regift
    Everyone’s got a drawer (or a whole cupboard…) of unwanted gifts that are still somehow too good to give away. A little thoughtful regifting is not only good for the environment, it’s a budget-friendly move.
  11. Plan ahead
    Start planning ahead for next year while the experience (or stress) of organising this Christmas is still fresh in your mind. Who knows – you could pick up a few timeless gifts at bargain prices in those Boxing Day sales!
  12. And finally – make merry!
    After all the lead up, you deserve to relax and enjoy the day and the joys of the festive season.
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Tanya Berderow

About the author

Tanya started with BMO in 1997 as a Trainee Accountant and through dedication and further study; she has gone on to achieve her Bachelor of Commerce, her CPA status and advanced to a senior accountancy role. Prior to joining BMO, Tanya had spent two years working with a local solicitors firm, which gave her grounding in administration and general law. She grew up on the Sunshine Coast, READ MORE

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