How to Save Money & Have an Amazing Christmas on a Budget

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Want to scale back on Christmas spending this year? Money might be a bit tight this year or you just want a more minimalist Christmas. Here’s how to enjoy the Christmas period on a budget this year for you and your kids with tips on Christmas gifts, decorations, food and entertaining.

You can still have a great Christmas with family and friends for less this festive season. Discover our top ways to save money with these 25 money-saving ideas.

Set a Christmas budget

If you want to curb your Christmas spending, make a budget and stick to it. It’s not a Scrooge thing to do. It’s the sensible thing to do. And then keep track of your Christmas spending by using the Track My Spend app or an Excel document

Don’t charge to a credit card

Instead of charging your Christmas spending to a credit card, save for Christmas expenses by putting money in a Christmas savings account or buying a $10 gift card each week to spend on Christmas. This avoids credit card bill shock in January and worrying about credit card interest payments.

Buy for less people

Instead of buying gifts for every member of your extended family, opt for Secret Santa and set a limit to how much you are going to spend. For friends, decide in advance that you’re not going to swap gifts.

Limit gifts for kids

It’s easy to go overboard and buy lots of gifts for your kids. However, increasingly parents are following the four gifts rules. This involves giving your kids something they need, something they want, something they read and something they wear.

Shop the sales

Buy Christmas presents when the sales are on. The half-yearly sales are a great time to shop. Not only do you save money but you avoid the pressure of Christmas shopping. However, if you miss these sales, you can still find great deals in November and December. Keep an eye out for deals on the Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales in November. Also, check factory outlets for discounted goods.

Cash in your points

Check your Flybuys or Woolies Rewards points to see what you can redeem them for. Ditto for Qantas rewards points. You might find you have an amount that you can use for Christmas groceries and gifts.

Save money buying online

If you’re buying gifts online, look for a coupon code or sign up for the retailers VIP customer program. Often you’ll be rewarded with a percentage off. Just make sure that you’re buying from a reputable website.

Make homemade gifts

Consider making gifts instead of buying them. Here’s our article on gifts you can make with your kids. You can create heartwarming gifts like beautiful succulents, fresh herbs, baking mixes, DIY gift baskets, home-made soap and bath salts, homemade chutney and sauces, etc. If you plan to make handmade Christmas gifts or crafts, start earlier in the year to avoid that last-minute rush. Stock up on craft items while they’re on sale.

Make personalised gifts when they’re on sale

If you like making photo gifts such as photo calendars, mugs and T-shirts, purchase them on sale usually in the months before Christmas. You can usually get 50% off before peak times.

Shop at dollar stores & op shops

Hit the dollar stores for cheaper Christmas gifts. You can also visit charity op shops like Vinnies and the Salvo for Christmas decorations or ornaments. Sometimes, you can score brand new items still in their original packaging that can be regifted.

Limit spending on postage

If you have to buy gifts for interstate or overseas family and friends, buy gifts online in the recipient’s area to save on excessive postage fees.

Cash in your points

Check your Flybuys or Woolies Rewards points to see what you can redeem them for. Ditto for Qantas rewards points. You might find you have an amount that you can use for Christmas groceries and gifts.

Give “Time” gifts

As nice as it is to spend money on gifts for some people, sometimes the gift of time is appreciated as its special and personal. Create homemade coupons for massages or foot rubs for your partner or home-cooked dinners or an evening of babysitting for friends.

Save money on your wardrobe

During the festive season when there are so many events, you might be tempted to go out and shop for clothes. However, before you rush out to the mall, check your wardrobe to see what you have. Can you add accessories or shoes to repurpose an outfit?

You can also share your clothes with your friends. If you have an occasion to go to like a Christmas or New Year’s party, pause before buying something new. Ask your friends if they have a dress or outfit you can borrow.

If you can’t resist some retail therapy, sign up for email from your favourite shop. Often you’ll get reminders of upcoming sales, VIP customer discounts or even special shopping nights.

Save money on babysitting costs

It’s great getting invited to Christmas parties and other festive events without kids but not if you have to spend lots of money on babysitters. See if you can swap childcare with friends so that they can look after your children when you need it and vice-versa.

Don’t go overboard decorating

As much as we all love a beautifully decorated Instaworthy home, it’s not worth spending lots of money on decorations. Reuse the decorations you have or combine them with a few new ones to create a new look. You can even make your own Christmas decorations using paper crafts, salt dough or fabric craft.

Save on wrapping paper

Don’t spend money on wrapping paper that gets ripped and torn in the race to open presents. Instead, reuse gift bags or place them in reusable cloth bags and tie with a nice ribbon. Got a large pile of kids artwork from daycare or school? Use that as handmade wrapping paper. You can even use scarves or other fabric to wrap presents.

Save on Christmas cards

Send Christmas wishes via email, direct message or social media. Or get the kids to draw Christmas cards and send it by email instead of paying for postage.

Make your own advent calendar

Rather than purchase an advent calendar, make your own reusable calendar that can be used every year. There are cheap ones available at Kmart. Stuff them with different things like small chocolates, Christmas jokes and other inexpensive items.

Enjoy light displays for free

As stunning as Hunter Valley Gardens Christmas Lights Spectacular is, the cost can be prohibitive for some families. Instead, check out local Christmas lights in your local area. Some even have an accompanying soundtrack you can listen to in your car. Here’s a list for Newcastle and Hunter houses.

Enjoy free Christmas events

At this time of year, there are tons of free Chrismas activities and events for your family to enjoy. There’s Christmas craft at the libraries and Christmas carols throughout the region to enjoy. Check the Newy with Kids Christmas event guide.

Enter Christmas competitions and giveaways

Save on buying gifts by winning prizes. At this time of year, there’s loads of giveaways to enter. Just keep an eye out and be in to win it.

Don’t pay too much for photos with Santa

Photos of your kids with the Man in Red can be super cute but don’t bust your budget. Also, keep a lookout for free Santa photos.

Get a free letter from Santa

Although you can purchase a letter from Santa, get a free one from Australia Post. (It will cost you 65 cents to mail a letter). Your kids just need to write a letter to Santa before 14 December. His address is North Pole, 9999 and they’ll receive a personalised postcard back from Santa. Letters to Santa can be placed in a dedicated Santa mailbox at most Post Offices or any red street post box.

Plan a menu in advance and stock up

Don’t spend a lot of money buying lots of groceries that you don’t need. It’s so easy to go overboard and have lots of foods that get thrown out. Plan your Christmas menu and buy non-perishable items in advance, preferably on sale.

Do a communal Christmas lunch or dinner

To save costs on hosting Christmas events, ask friends and family to each contribute a dish. This helps reduce the financial and cooking burden on one family.

Shop around for savings on alcohol

If you’re planning a Merry Christmas involving beer, wine and champagne, shop around and buy in cases to save more. Consider buying clean skin wine for significant savings. Also, join customer loyalty programs to receive member discounts. Dan Murphys’s program My Dan’s provides some great savings for those who swipe the card in-store or order online.

Stock up on petrol before the holidays

If you’re driving somewhere for Christmas, stock up on petrol the week before Christmas. Knowing that lots of families will be on the road, fuel prices skyrocket. Use NSW Government Fuel Check to make sure you’re filling up at the cheapest price.

Keep receipts in a safe place

Receipts are super valuable in case something breaks or needs to be returned so take a photo with your phone and file it. Also, make note of the warranty so it can be repaired or replaced during that period.

Stock up after Christmas

After Christmas, stock up on themed items like cards, wrapping and decorations for the following year.

Do you have any other tips for saving money at Christmas? Email us with your best suggestions.

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