How to keep your holiday spending in check

Written and accurate as at: 19 November 2012

There aren’t too many people who want to be a Christmas Scrooge just as there aren’t too many who want to spend the next 12 months paying off a hefty credit card debt either.

It’s a good idea to do up a budget in the time leading up to Christmas. This way you are able to see roughly how much money you will need during the holiday season, whether for gifts, entertainment, holidays or similar.

The more you predict your expenses the easier it is to manage your cash during what can be an expensive time of the year.

Here’s a few suggestions to avoid spending blow outs.



Avoid overspending by making a list of who you need or want to buy a present for and set a dollar limit for each.

Before heading to the shops consider what each person may like as a gift. Once you have a rough idea of what people may like you can shop with a target in mind. This helps you avoid overspending on sale items and random goodies which you realise aren’t really the right gift once you get home and reflect on it.

You could jump online as well where you may find coupons and wholesale items which are perfect Christmas gifts. Signing up to Daily Deal sites can also help you with ideas and you may even find a bargain on an otherwise expensive gift.

You can be generous and kind without it costing a fortune. However, you may need to give your present shopping a little more thought than just turning up at the shops.

If you’re family has become rather large, there may be different ways to give this Christmas.

Food and alcohol

Generally most people have time off during the Christmas/New Year period, which tends to mean more socialising for both the currently working and already retired. Accordingly, food and alcohol is one of those costs that tends to increase during this time.

When entertaining for a large group at home you could suggest each guest bring their own drinks and a plate of food to share such as a salad, pasta or nibbles. People generally don’t mind contributing which can save you a lot of money and time.

In saying that, some people like to be the host with the most, so if you really want to put on an all inclusive spread, it’s worth considering how much you can really afford and let this influence how many people you invite over.


Keeping yourself entertained over the break doesn’t have to cost a lot either.

If you notice yourself dipping into your wallet several times a day, consider some other activities you could do where no money is required. Throwing a frisbee down at the park, a walk along the beach, cricket in your friends backyard are all fun options that don’t cost much to do. Such activities tend to keep all ages entertained and are good for the body too!

If you’re going away on holidays jump online and see what’s on in the area. You could also call the local visitor centre as a lot of holiday hot spots have free activities on during the summer months.


So there’s a few ideas on how to keep you’re spending in check over the summer months.

Sure there will be times that you want to spoil yourself or others, but keep in mind that there’s a point where more expensive is not necessarily better, and it’s certainly not when such spending is beyond your means.

If for some reason your credit card gets the better of you, try our Credit Card Calculator.

To learn more about cashflow, explore our Cashflow and Compounding learning module.