8 Top Tips to Plan Your Christmas Spending

Christmas again! How it makes the heart flutter. Twinkling fairy lights, glistening white snows capes, sleigh bells jingling, carolers singing, the innocence of it all. How magical, how mystical, what marvelous memories. So little time and so much to do.

Hold on a minute! What about the hype, the commercialism, the over-indulgence, the cost? You know some kids think they can have everything they put on their Christmas list. Whatever happened to fairytales and three wishes? Now the list of wishes is endless, and sadly some parents believe they have to live up to those expectations, Santa Claus or no.

As Santa’s sack grows heavier year over year, so does the burden of paying for Christmas. Today a lot of people use credit or debit cards to pay for the holidays. Swiping the plastic, or punching in 16 or so digits makes it ever so easy to grossly underestimate the amount we spend over the holiday season.

If this Christmas Story sounds familiar, then you can change the ending to a happier one, this year, not next. Reining in your holiday spending doesn’t mean playing Scrooge. It means having a great Christmas, but an affordable one that won’t cost you untold misery, worry and stress that has you working even harder next year to pay for something you will have long forgotten.

Follow these Santa approved top tips:

1. Know how much you have available to spend on Christmas.
2. Set your budget and stick to it. Work out separate budget for food, drink, gifts, sundries.
3. Write a list of people to buy gifts for – then prioritize (friends and family will understand).
4. Tell the kids they will get some things on their list, not everything. (Remember if you spend $400 on one son or daughter you feel compelled to spend the same on each of your children.)
5. Set your limit for each gift. Bargain hunting is such great fun and you’ll be surprised just how creative you can become.
6. Pay in cash or debit card whenever possible. Handing over ‘real money’ makes all the difference.
7. Consider giving homemade gifts — play to your talent, e.g. baking, craft, handyman, artistic, babysitting, seamstress etc. People who cannot do those things really appreciate your time, skills and talent.
8. Plan low-cost ‘family together’ days or outings — it’s a fact that meaningful memories are made from experiences not merchandise. You may even create a new family Christmas tradition.

With the recent economic recession you are not alone in tightening the Christmas purse strings and home- made, hand-made has made a significant revival. So rein in your Christmas spending, ditch the plastic and find great ways to have Happy Holidays that are both memorable and affordable.