Christmas can be an expensive affair, with Aussies predicted to spend $23.9 billion according to research from comparison provider Finder.
From the gifts to the food – especially if you’ve volunteered to host 30 of your closest family and friends – the dollars can definitely add up.
In fact, after presents, food is the biggest cost outlay for most families, at an average of $308 according to the Finder survey from November.
Yahoo Finance caught up with Finder’s senior editor of money, Sarah Megginson, to get some tips on budgeting this Christmas season.
Megginson said Christmas could be a cost burden for many Aussie households but it was critical to avoid going into any debt when making the festive season merry and bright.
“Many Aussies can’t afford to save in advance and have to fund holiday expenses out of their normal December income, or they go into debt,” Megginson said.
“While Christmas is a special time, it’s not worth over-spending and over-extending yourself financially for the sake of celebrating one day.”
Finder’s research showed 31 per cent of Aussies were saving ahead of the festive season by buying food and presents early, 22 per cent had implemented a gift-giving limit, while 7 per cent were cleverly regifting or picking up a side hustle to cover costs.
That cool $23.9 billion equates to the average Aussie planning to spend $1,232 this Christmas.
The main costs fall into five spending categories:
- Presents – $374
- Food – $308
- Flights or travel – $269
- Eating out – $174
- Alcohol – $107
Megginson’s top Christmas budgeting tips
1. Start early
The early bird gets the worm.
Get organised and start buying food and gifts early to make the most of the holiday season deals and spread the cost.
It might be too late for this year, but start a gift cupboard and stock up on discount gift ideas throughout the year for 2022.
2. Look for savings in other areas
There’s no better time to look for a deal that will offset spending by saving in other areas.
Consider switching your car insurance for a better deal or refinancing to a cheaper home loan to reduce your monthly repayments.
You may even be able to get a new home loan with a cashback offer worth $2,000-$3,000 to give your savings a boost.
3. Set spending limits early and stick to them
Buying presents for each family member can add up quickly.
Perhaps agree with family and friends on present spending limits, do ‘secret Santa’, or only buy gifts for a select few of your closest loved ones.
You could also replace gift giving with things like acts of service or experiences, like a picnic at the beach.
4. Get crafty
DIY-inspired gifts are a fun way to cut costs, and loved ones will appreciate the extra thought put into their presents.
This is also a great way to keep the kids busy in the lead-up to the holidays.
I’m a huge fan of the ‘wineapple‘, which transforms a bottle of wine and a large box of Ferrero Rochers into a really fun and memorable Christmas present, for an outlay of about $30.
5. Spread the cost over the year
Buy a $10-$20 supermarket gift card every week when you do your grocery shopping.
You probably won’t notice the extra small amount each week, but by the time Christmas rolls around, you’ll have a few hundred dollars worth of gift cards to help pay for food and presents.
Start in January for Christmas 2022.
“Christmas is notoriously expensive and many people have to get creative with how they will fit this extra spending into their budget,” Megginson said.
“Having a more cautious approach to spending during the holiday period doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the special time.
“It does mean being a bit more thoughtful about how and where you spend over the silly season.”