5 Tricks to Avoid Overspending at Christmas

Christmas is a time when overspending can get the better of even the most frugal budgeter, which is why you need to use these tricks to keep your finances on track. Christmas is all about being swept up by the spirit of the love, community, family and giving of the season, so it is no surprise that many of us get swept up to such an extent that we forget about our finances.

Instead, make sure you take the time while you’re waiting in the inevitable Christmas time lines at the cash register, to really think about the purchase you’re about to make. If you’re not sure about a purchase , you don’t know if you really need it or you think you might be trying to convince yourself you do need it, then get out of the line and take a walk to make sure you’re making a conscious purchasing decision, for something that is clearly on your list.

Other ways you can avoid overspending at Christmas time are :

1 – Spend 1.5% of your household income

Just because Christmas only comes around once a year it doesn’t mean you have to blow all of your spare cash on the celebrations. Instead, set your spending based on what you can afford, by allocating 1.5% of your household income to go towards your Christmas shopping. Allocating a percentage of your income to your Christmas spending allows you to be realistic about what you can afford, rather than pulling a random number out of the air, or not pulling out a number at all.

2 – Keep budgeting

Now you have your overall spending budget, allocate a budget for each person you are buying for this Christmas. This stops you from spending all of your budget on the first few people at the top of your list, and then feeling guilty about the people on the bottom of the list and continuing to spend. It also means you’ll be able to fairly even in your spending for each person.

Also make sure you keep your Christmas shopping list with you at all times so that you will always know where you are with your budget. This allows you to make a quick purchase when you see something on special which you can check off of your list, and you can also make sure you don’t double up on gifts for the same person, because you’ll know who you’ve already bought for and how much you’ve spent on them – and more importantly how much you have left to spend on them.

3 – Spend your own money

Running out of money is a powerful motivator to avoid spending more than you can afford. Therefore, use a debit card which draws from your own savings account, or a prepaid Visa card which you can load up with your own money before you go shopping. In this way you know there is no more money to spend once your Christmas budget is gone.

4 – Shop early

When you are rushing around the store at the last minute looking to check gifts off of your list for everyone, then you’re more likely to buy things just because they are there, not because they are on your list or would really suit the person you are buying for. You’re also more likely to overspend because you don’t take the time to shop around, instead buying the first item you see just so you can escape the mad rush of people. Giving yourself plenty of time to organise your Christmas gifts also means you have the time to think of more meaningful gifts, and the time to make gifts if you choose.

5 – Give unique gifts

A gift you make can often cost much less that one you buy, and mean so much more. You could bake gift baskets for your friends and family or make up a box or basket of the person’s favourite things such as their favourite foods, drinks, cosmetics and stationery. You can also play to your strengths, so if baking isn’t one of your strong points you could write a song or a poem, create a piece of artwork, take a series of photographs of the family or the person’s favourite place and frame them.

You could even forgo traditional gifts all together and make a donation to charity in each person’s name. Many charities will even send you out cards with a picture of the chicken, goat or well your donation helped buy. When you take the time to really think about Christmas and your gift giving you will find there are a myriad of ways you can save money and curb your spending without missing out on any of the fun and excitement of the holiday.

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