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Christmas is coming... like Christmas!
By Tammy Barton


Pssst… Christmas is only nine weeks away! The silly season is just around the corner; a time of the year which, for many people, heralds stress not angels. But for MyBudget clients, Christmas doesn’t have to be stressful. As soon as you can, ring one of our consultants and check what you have budgeted for and what will be available in your MyBudget account by Christmas.

If you don’t have anything budgeted for Christmas, your consultant can calculate how much disposable income you have between now and Christmas. A certain amount of this can be transferred to savings each week (or fortnight or month) to cover your expected Christmas costs. Don't be discouraged if the amount seems small. It all adds up and we still have nine weeks up our sleeve. If your nest egg isn't enough to cover your estimated expenses, perhaps you may need to refigure your Christmas budget to a more realistic amount.

Start with a Christmas budget— Write down all the people you’d like to buy presents for this year. Try not to get too emotional or feel guilty about gift giving; only give what you can afford. Now create a list of all your other Christmas expenses. Include items such as groceries, as well as hidden costs like long distance phone calls, Christmas cards, postage, wrapping paper, dining out, and extra petrol if you’ll be driving. It all adds up. Allocate a budget to each of these items so that you know exactly how much Christmas is going to cost.

Cheap and cheery— Gifts don’t need to be expensive to be thoughtful, fun and useful. Colouring in books, butcher’s paper, textas, and craft supplies are great for smaller kids. Bigger kids might enjoy school supplies, a movie ticket, or an iTunes voucher to download their favourite song. Ask people what they’d like for Christmas so that you don’t end up panic buying.

Kris Kringle— I have a huge family and, over the years, it’s gotten too expensive to buy a gift for everybody. These days, among the adults, we practice the gift giving ritual known as ‘Kris Kringle’. Each person buys a significant present for only one other person. It’s actually a lot of fun. Instead of getting 10 boxes of chocolate, you end up with one, lovely, very considerate present. You can do the same with your Christmas meal—ask people to bring a dish to share.

Split the cost— Designate specific times and a purpose for shopping. Idle browsing is a recipe for blowing your budget. If you see something you’d love to buy for someone, but it costs more than you’ve budgeted, keep looking, or ask a friend or family member if they’d like to split the cost with you. I do that with my brothers and sisters all the time when we buy presents for our parents. We pool our money and get them something nicer than we could each afford on our own.

Don’t borrow to pay for Christmas— Use cash, rather than your credit card. It’s too easy to overspend with plastic. In fact, leave your credit card at home if you think you’ll be tempted to use it. And don’t shop for yourself until after Christmas. Wait to see what Santa brings you!

Resist advertising messages— Retailers and advertisers would like us to believe in their idea of the “perfect” Christmas. Plan and budget for your perfect Christmas, not the one you see on TV and in retail catalogues. Christmas doesn’t have to be lavish or expensive to be special. How about packing sandwiches for a Christmas picnic at your local park or at the beach?

Christmas starts in January— Speak with our team about setting aside Christmas funds in your budget for next year. It’s much easier to put aside $10 a week over 12 months, than to find $500 the week before Christmas.

Most importantly, remember that life’s real blessings are not commodities. Love, health, friendship and family can't be bought, sold, wrapped in paper or tied up with a ribbon!

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