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13 weeks to the silly season. Here’s your Christmas checklist.
By Tammy May

Christmas budget checklistCan you believe it? It’s only 13 weeks to Christmas, one of the most expensive times of the year. But the more planning you do now, the more affordable — and less stressful — your festive season will be. Here’s a Christmas budget checklist to help you get started.

Travelling for Christmas?

If you haven’t done so already, book flights, buses, hire cars or hotels very soon. What about Muttley and Felix? Lots of boarding kennels will already be booked out. If you have multiple animals, sometimes it’s more affordable (even free) to get a house sitter.

Need to send gifts to friends or family overseas?

This is the last week to send items by sea mail, which is about half the cost of air. (Transit time differs by destination.) Don’t forget to buy your Christmas stamps while you’re at the post office—the queue at Christmastime is terrible.

Will you be hosting house guests at Christmas time?

Adjust your budget for extra food, petrol, utilities costs, and any special activities you have planned.

Does your income change at Christmas time?

Make sure that your budget accurately reflects the income you’ll be paid over Christmas—this is especially important for casuals and contractors. Are you looking for a bit of extra cash? Christmas is a great time to find temporary work. Start approaching employers now.

Will you be cooking for Christmas?

Start setting aside extra money each week for your Christmas food budget. You can begin collecting frozen, canned and non-perishable items now. Even better, save money and stress by asking people to bring a dish to share.

Who will you buy Christmas presents for this year?

Write your gift list now and allocate a dollar amount to each person. Is the list affordable? Don’t be afraid to make adjustments or get creative. Could you split the price of a gift between family members? How about Secret Santa? Some families just buy for their kids. Remember to budget for wrapping paper, cards, postage, decorations and, if you have kids, batteries.

How festive can you afford to be?

Everybody should budget for extra socialising and entertainment costs—work functions, New Year’s Eve parties, dinners, drinking and everything else that goes with being merry. Make sure you also allow for public transport or taxi fares.

Do you have school-aged children?

As well as being blasted by Christmas costs, families with kids will need to budget for school holiday care and/or the extra costs associated with keeping the kids busy over the break. Do you have family members or friends that can help with child care? Start making arrangements now.

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