Managing The Budget Over Christmas

Christmas is a-coming, and it’s one of those things that you have to factor in when you’re working with a budget… and you should be working with a budget if you are considering taking out a loan for a car, bike or boat (yes, even if you are buying said car, boat or bike as a Christmas present!).

Often, when people first calculate a budget to see what sort of weekly payments can be managed for your loan repayment, they can overlook events like Christmas and birthdays, which do require a little extra expenditure. And then that time of year comes around and the pressure can start coming on. It can be tempting to overspend and possibly max out your credit cards in order to have the perfect Christmas.

However, if you cut through the hype and are smart, then you can avoid blowing your budget over this time of year and facing the choice between defaulting on a loan repayment  with all the nasty hassle that comes with this  or eating baked beans for a fortnight. (If it gets to that level, choose the baked beans. They’re good for you as well as being ultra-cheap, and it’s easier to repair the social damage caused by blowing off than the credit damage caused by blowing your credit).

First of all, remember that Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect as defined by advertisers and movies. You don’t need a huge turkey or ham for Christmas dinner, plus all the heavy food of a Northern Hemisphere Christmas. In Australia, we’re lucky enough to be able to have Christmas in the veggie growing season, so make the most of cheap seasonal veggies or even home grown veggies and built your Christmas dinner around that, with the meat being a sideshow.

And presents don’t have to be the biggest, best, flashest and most fashionable. It’s a clich, but it really is the thought that counts. Try home-made treats and gifts if you’re good with your hands (sweets, jam, biscuits, cake, photo frames, etc…) or vouchers offering your services (washing cars, mowing lawns, babysitting, weeding, cleaning) that can be redeemed throughout the year. Or set a maximum limit and see what you can find for under a certain price  it’s amazing what you can find if you use your imagination.

Other tips to help you fit Christmas into your budget are:

  • Join a Christmas hamper scheme or voucher scheme through your local supermarket  this does trim down the food budget.
  • Buy presents bit by bit through the year rather than in one big hit. This spreads the cost out, allowing you to fit present shopping around your repayments. October and November can be good times to start. (Oops  bit late for that one now!)
  • Buy presents for families as a group rather than individuals. This is especially good if you have masses of relatives.
  • Make your own Christmas cards  after all, you can get enough pictures of Christmas-related stuff on the catalogues that pour through the letterbox to provide plenty of collage material.
  • Make a pact with the members of your family that the presents will be bought in the New Year/Boxing Day sales when all the excess stock in shops gets sold off cheap. Don’t go mad, though  again, set a maximum limit and stick to it. Use cash and leave the credit card at home if you’re likely to give into temptation.