With Christmas rapidly approaching you’re probably already dreaming about holidays, your favourite Chrissy treats and all the gifts you have to buy this year. It’s a fun season to share the birth of Jesus with family and friends, but there is the other side of Christmas that we don’t think about until the New Year arrives with all our bills!
It’s easy to let the frantic planning and the stressful shopping and the overpriced gifts overshadow the deeper values that Christmas time represents. And then there’s the credit card hangover we face as the new year rolls in!
You don’t have to spend big to have a great Christmas! Approaching this season thoughtfully could mean that you save money and focus on important values that make Christmas even more special.
Here are six tips to save money and still have an amazing Christmas
1. Keep Jesus at the centre
Christmas parties, lights and carols are a fun part of the holiday season, but making time for prayer and moments of reflection will build faith and bring focus to the true meaning of Christmas.
Christmas is a great time to remember or create traditions that strengthens your faith and reminds you of God’s goodness. Saying a special weekly or nightly prayer, or reading through the story of Jesus’s birth in December will help to take the focus off the stuff of Christmas and put in back on the person of Jesus.
2. Set a budget
Before you buy a single item, write down a simple budget of what you’ll spend this Christmas. Consider all the bells and whistles that come with the holidays including: gifts for family, friends, workplace Kris Kringles, cards, postage, wrapping, decorations, parties and of course anything you’ll be contributing to Christmas lunch or dinner. (Phew!) Your budget will help to guide your buying decisions and help you to avoid impulse purchases.
3. Don’t spend on credit
It’s easy to lose track of your spending at Christmas when you defer to using your credit card. Leave the cards at home and withdraw the cash you’ve budgeted to make your purchases.
This habit will force you to spend within your means and save you the huge Christmas debt hangover in January. Shopping with cash only is a great habit and you’ll also save a bunch of money too!
4. Write or revisit your financial goals
It may not seem very festive, but evaluating your financial goals – both short term and long term will help you to resist shopping temptations. Do you have a car loan you need to get on top of? Do you have a holiday you’re saving for? Are you planning for your future by saving for a property or a wedding?
There are so many more worthwhile things you can spend your money on instead of letting credit card or loan interest eat away at your finances. Take a few minutes to think about, write or revisit your financial goals and you’ll feel energised and motivated to stay on track with your Christmas budget.
5. Discover new ways to be generous
Christmas is a great time to think more about the community and the needs of those around us. Make time to think of ways you can be generous to friends, family and the community, without necessarily buying gifts.
Is there a feeding program for the homeless that you could volunteer at this Christmas Eve? Are there elderly members in your church community who may be facing a Christmas alone that you could visit with or invite to your family Christmas meal? If you have a sponsor child overseas, could you send a photo and write a special Christmas letter for them? There are hundreds of ways to show generosity and create meaningful memories.
6. Get creative
If your budget looks tight when it comes to gifts, it’s time to get creative! Bake cookies and wrap them beautifully as little gifts. Custom-make Christmas cards with a fun messages or poems inside. Get crafty with the help of Pinterest to create fun and unique gifts that won’t bust your budget.
These are cost effective options, but they are also fun! You’ll love the rewarding feeling of giving something you put time and thought into making.