Christmas is just around the corner and a well-deserved holiday beckons!

The summer holiday season is a special time to celebrate, enjoy the company of your family and friends and recharge your batteries for the New Year. However, without a bit of thought and planning, Christmas can be a time of year that places many Australians under real financial stress.

Between gifts, decorations, parties and food, it can be easy to lose control of your finances. According to MoneySmart, Australians plan to spend an average of $955 over the holiday season, but end up with an average post-Christmas credit card debt of $1666 – the majority spending in excess of $500 on gifts alone.

Even if you’ve already bought all of your gifts (well done you!), there are a number of other great ways you can save, which can reduce financial stress during the festive season. The team at Nectar have compiled our favourite cost-saving tricks for you to try. Get the family involved, be a bit creative, and have a fantastic Christmas.

Budgeting

Santa isn’t the only one who needs a list for Christmas! Carefully thinking about what you really need and writing it down will help you avoid impulse buys and stick to your budget. You’ll also save yourself time and energy by only going to the shops and online retailers you actually need to, and can skip hours trawling through malls.

Your list should contain any gifts you need to buy, the food you’re contributing and any other essentials you can think of.

Spring cleaning? Try a pre-Christmas sweep

Just before Christmas is a great time to get rid of any unused or unwanted items from around your home. Sell your old clothes, jewellery, electronics or furniture on Gumtree, or hold a garage sale. There’ll be plenty of last-minute shoppers seeking a bargain, and you could end up putting a few hundred extra dollars in your pocket to ease the financial strain of the season to come!

Entertainment

Here in Australia, we’re fortunate to celebrate Christmas in the summer sunshine (fingers crossed!), so there are plenty of great ways to spend the day without needing to spend money on entertainment. Plan on your celebration being spent outdoors, or at the beach if you’re staying nearby, with an easy back-up plan should the weather turn sour. Let the kids entertain themselves while you kick back under some shade and slip into a food-induced slumber.

Gifting

Especially for large families, buying gifts at Christmas time can be a daunting prospect. To avoid a blow-out, agree to buy each other inexpensive gifts and hold a Secret Santa for the adults. The old cliché, ‘it’s the thought that counts’ really does apply, and funny or thoughtful presents are a lot more meaningful than expensive, showy gifts.

Food

Agree to share the cost of food between friends and family.  Have each person bring a plate (many hands make light work!), or if the unenviable task of cooking for everyone has fallen to you, don’t be afraid to ask the others to pitch in with some money. Christmas should be about everyone’s enjoyment, and you should never have to shoulder the food bill yourself.

Reuse, reduce, recycle!

Instead of ripping and throwing away wrapping paper from your presents (good luck with the kids on this one), remove it with a bit of care and you’ll be able to reuse it for a birthday gift, or even next Christmas.

You don’t need to spend money on expensive (and generic) Christmas cards for each family member. Instead, you could write them a heartfelt letter and reuse materials from around the house to make a card.

Keeping hold of your decorations from year to year is another easy way to save. You don’t need to cover the tree with expensive ornaments – simple touches can be beautiful. Decorate the tree with some flowers from your garden, or ask the kids to create decorations using recycled materials – they’ll love a creative project, and the personal touch can make Christmas all the more special.

As well as saving yourself some cash, you’ll be doing the planet a solid by reducing your environmental footprint over the holiday period, a time that often sees rubbish bins overflowing with waste.

The day after…

On December 26, it’s easy to be drawn into the hysteria of “rock bottom prices” and “never to be repeated savings”. Each year Australians spend nearly $3 billion at the Boxing Day sales.

However, recent “ground-breaking research” shows that consumers can actually save themselves more money by avoiding sales altogether and spending Boxing Day relaxing with family and friends! Save yourself the hustle of yet another day of shopping and head into the New Year with more money in your bank account.

From the whole team at Nectar, we wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.