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Eek! Only 12 weeks until Christmas!
By Tammy May

Plan ahead for a relaxing ChristmasToday is the 24th of September, which means that in exactly three months’ time you could be running around like a headless chook, jostling other frenzied shoppers for last minute gifts, and generally pulling your hair out in preparation for Christmas Day. Alternatively, you could be utterly prepared and serene. Shopping done, gifts wrapped, kicking back and feeling relaxed. Let’s plan for that scenario!

If you haven’t already got a Christmas budget in place, this is the time to work on it. Some people also need to take income fluctuation into account at Christmas time. You might get more money from extra hours or leave loading; others might see a drop in pay due to a Christmas shutdown or unpaid leave.

If you’ll be travelling for Christmas, you’ll need to think about transportation costs, accommodation, and eating out. Perhaps you’ll also need to budget to get your car serviced or buy new tyres.

Here’s a Christmas budget checklist to get you started:

  • Extra food/drinks/groceries (on top of your usual shopping budget—don’t forget things like serviettes, paper plates etc.)
  • Extra phone costs
  • Extra petrol and possible car costs
  • Gifts
  • Christmas cards
  • Postage
  • Wrapping paper and supplies
  • Decorations (for the tree, house, table etc.)
  • Batteries (especially important if you have kids!)
  • Entertainment, events and social activities
  • Keeping the kids busy (you might go on more outings or rent extra DVDs)
  • Income fluctuation

When it comes to budgeting for gifts, do what Santa does and make yourself a detailed list that includes each person’s name, the budgeted amount for their gift and any gift ideas that come to mind. Start looking for presents now, especially when you see a sale. You can also start collecting non-perishable food and other items now (eg. custard powder, frozen vegetables, drinks, serviettes, and batteries.)

The most important thing is to budget for a Christmas you can afford. That might mean cutting back on gifts or asking family members to bring a dish to share for Christmas dinner. And who says that you have to have a big roast for Christmas? You could have a picnic at the beach or sandwiches at a local park.

Remember, MyBudget is always here to help. If you want to talk about your Christmas budget, please give us a call.

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