The festive season is often a time to wind down, recharge our batteries, and enjoy some quality time with family and friends. But, it can also be an expensive time that plays havoc with our finances (and stress levels). This year will be no exception—according to Roy Morgan research, this year’s pre-Christmas sales are expected to reach a staggering $63.9 billion (up 3% on last year)*.
If you’re already feeling the pressure from friends and family to dig deep into your pockets, or you have a habit of getting caught up in a last minute gift-buying frenzy, these practical tips may help you keep your spending on track this time round.
1. Set a budget for every gift
Deciding on an actual dollar figure (and writing it down) can be much more powerful than guesstimating how much you want to spend during the holiday season. Once you’ve decided how much you want to spend on gift buying, divide that amount between the people you will be buying gifts for. Having a set budget for each person can help to refine your gift ideas to those that are going to be realistic.
2. Plan ahead
Leaving your gift buying to the last minute can cause a lot of unnecessary stress, but it can also mean that you may be more likely to miss out on sales. By planning your gift list ahead of time, you can keep a close eye out for price reductions in the lead up to the holiday season. Many retailers hold large sales in November to encourage you to buy early, and put prices back to normal for the December period knowing that most people are in a frenzy by then.
Another way you can plan ahead, is to have a plan for your gift buying before you step foot in a physical or online store. Taking the time to think about what each person may like may stop you from getting side-tracked by promotions or impulse buying gifts that might not be a good fit for that friend or relative.
3. Reduce the stress of gift buying
Often, the stress of gift buying can come from those around us. For example, family members with higher disposable income or nieces or nephews with high expectations might place more importance on gift giving than you do. To help reduce the stress of gift buying, try suggesting a Kris Kringle approach this year, even if just for adults. Reducing the volume of gifts you have to buy can not only save your wallet, but it can mean you can spend more energy and perhaps more money on finding that special gift for just one person.
Another approach which might work well, is to ask your friends or family circle to agree on a spending limit for gifts. Once you have decided on a dollar amount you’re all happy with, you don’t need to worry about comparison syndrome or feel like a scrooge during the present opening ceremony.
4. Share the cost of family gatherings
Your nearest and dearest will hopefully understand if you want or need to keep costs down, especially at a time when inflation is rising rapidly. If you’re hosting a large family gathering during the festive season this year, ask your guests to contribute. It doesn’t need to be a financial contribution, the ‘bring a plate’ approach can be a more socially acceptable way of asking people to chip in on the financial burden, and also reduce the stress and workload of cooking for a large group.
5. Focus on thoughtful gifts and experiences
Often in life, it’s the memories that we remember and cherish for a long time, rather than the material possessions that we owned. This year, consider making your gift giving less transactional, and more focused on unique, thoughtful ideas or experiences you can share together. For example, you might buy a baking or patisserie class for someone who loves to bake cakes. Or, you might instead take a friend or family member to an event they would be interested in. If you’re into making things, you might make something handmade and truly unique. The possibilities are endless once you get your thinking cap on.
The lead up to the holiday season can be stressful, but hopefully these practical tips can help you take back control of your spending this year. If you’d like to chat about anything in this article, get in touch.