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Create your (COVID) Christmas budget
By MyBudget Editor

It’s the nightmare before Christmas. Less than 19 weeks to go, Victoria in lockdown and the rest of the nation on high alert. What would a COVID-19 Christmas look like? It’s hard to guess what other surprises 2020 has in store for us. The only thing for certain is that this is not the year to leave your Christmas planning to the last minute. Better download your free Christmas budget calculator!

Christmas a la COVID-19

Christmas happens on the same day every year, but somehow catches us all by surprise. (How does that happen?) One minute it’s tax time and the next every shop has fake snow in the window.

If you’re like most people, you have excellent Christmas intentions. Every year you plan to finish your Christmas shopping before September and every year you find yourself jostling with other last minute shoppers on Christmas Eve. 

And if Christmas wasn’t stressful enough, 2020 is going to turn up the heat with retail shelves that are already looking bare, not to mention social distancing rules and lockdown. Then there’s the recent memory of loo paper limits and rice shortages.

What more does 2020 have in store for us? Queuing for a turkey? Bon-bon limits? Pudding shortages? There will certainly be no sitting on Santa’s knee at the local shopping centre.

19 weeks to go

The average household spent $969 on Christmas last year. Assuming you haven’t set any Christmas savings aside yet, that would work out to $51 a week for the next 19 weeks.

This statistic, however, sits against a backdrop of 10% unemployment by December this year, according to the Reserve Bank. More than a million out-of-work Australians will be hoping that Christmas brings the gift of economic recovery.

Last year, 5.4 million Australians charged their Christmas costs to credit cards. But if you were planning to do the same this year, keep in mind that 2020 is a year of curveballs. Let’s not, therefore, leave Christmas planning to chance. 

Use our tips below to get your sugar plum fairies in a row!

MyBudget’s 12 Tips to Christmas

1. Make your naughty vs. nice gift list

Christmas gifts are one of the biggest festive season expenses. Use the MyBudget Christmas Budget Calculator to decide who you’re buying for and how much you’re going to spend on each person. Keep it realistic and affordable.

Get it now: Your Free Christmas Budget Calculator

2. Let your fingers do the walking

Why pound the pavement when you can shop from the comfort (and safety) of your own home? Do your research from the couch and check stock levels before hitting the shops.

3. Finders keepers

Have you tried to buy a kid’s bike lately? With stock levels low across the country and incoming freight in short supply, this is a good year to shop for pre-loved presents on Gumtree and Marketplace or at your local secondhand shop. 

4. Budget for fun

A common Christmas oversight is to budget for gifts, then overlook the added costs of entertaining, drinks, decorations, wrapping, work parties, going out, Uber fares etc. Make sure you include money for fun in your yuletide budget.

5. Check your pay

Does your workplace close down over Christmas? Do you take unpaid leave? Is your job unstable? If your income might be affected, make sure you factor reduced income into your Christmas calculations.

6. Start a Christmas stash

It’s not too soon to start stashing Christmas food and decorations when you see them on sale. Stock up on non-perishable items now and food that can be frozen, such as meat.

7. Spread the love by sharing the load

Assuming that we can spend Christmas together, Christmas lunch doesn’t need to fall on the shoulders of one household. Talk with your friends and family about each bringing a dish to share or create a combined lunch budget that you divide between you. It’s the same with gift-giving. Secret Santa is a great alternative to the ‘everybody buys for everybody’ approach.

8. Budget for shipping

On the other hand, it might end up being a socially distanced Christmas, in which case we’ll need to budget extra for postage and shipping. With postage delays already in effect, it would be wise to mail Christmas items by early November.

9. Be inclusive

Some people are in a better financial situation because they’ve been spending less through the pandemic, while others have lost their job, seen their income go down or are worried what the future holds. We can help keep Christmas inclusive by keeping our shared plans simple and affordable. 

10. Manage your kids’ expectations

With money being tighter this year for a lot of families, the challenge is to manage kids’ expectations without undoing the magic of Christmas—or your budget. MyBudget founder Tammy Barton is mum to three kids and this is how she handles it.

11. Avoid a debt hangover

There’s nothing worse than waiting for a big, ugly credit card bill to arrive. Remind yourself that it’s better to have an affordable Christmas than a debt hangover, especially in the current climate of uncertainty. While you’re at it, avoid the buy now pay later trap of Afterpay.

12. Plan YOUR perfect Christmas

Who says Christmas has to be expensive? The picture-perfect version of Christmas with all the trimmings is created by retailers trying to sell us stuff. Instead, plan the perfect Christmas for you. Your Christmas could involve sandwiches in a local park or a sausage sizzle at home or a picnic at the beach. This could be the perfect year to try something different!

Be like Santa and ask for help

Everybody knows that Santa doesn’t make Christmas happen on his own. Aside from the amazing Mrs Claus, he has a whole team of helpers. Same goes with taking control of your money—you don’t have to do it on your own. 

If you’re worried about your finances or what the future holds, book a free phone consultation and get help from a money coach. It could be the best Christmas present to yourself ever! Call 1300 300 922 or enquire online.

Download your free Christmas Budget Calculator, Read more about budgeting, discover how MyBudget works, sign up for money tips via the MyBudget Blog or follow MyBudget on Facebook.

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