With Christmas in two weeks, we find ourselves scratching our heads as to where the year has gone. Don’t be the person who leaves everything to the last minute and ends up running around like a headless chicken on the day; time is of the essence and planning is key!
Here are the four top tips to ensure your Christmas is as smooth as stress-free as possible.
Plan your budget now
Budgets aren’t sexy, but if you can get an idea of how much cash you have and how much you need, this will make all the difference for your sanity! If perhaps you haven’t quite built up your savings as much as you would’ve liked, assess whether you might need a top-up before Christmas (if this is the case – the earlier you apply, the more chances you have to win in our Christmas loan promotion).
Make a list of all the costs you expect to incur over the Christmas period – here are a few questions to keep in mind when tallying up costs:
- How many people do I need to buy gifts for? (And perhaps get a spare or two in case!)
- Do I plan to host a Christmas lunch/dinner/bbq? If so, how much food and drink do I need to plan for?
- How much do I want to put aside for decorations?
- Will I be going to any Christmas parties and anticipate needing a new outfit?
- How many events do I have lined up and do I need to bring an extra gift for the host?
- What about post-Christmas events? For example, you might want to tuck aside some cash for those boxing day sales or barbeques – and bear in mind that New Year’s Eve is less than a week after Christmas!
Compare these costs to how much you’ve saved to work out a budget and whether you might need some extra help with your finances this holiday season.
Don’t keep up with the Kardashians
Don’t feel compelled to keep up with others; there is no competition. Plus, being thrifty and money savvy is now cool – as evidenced by more and more people becoming vocal about their fondness for Kmart (and with 6ft Christmas trees for $20, why wouldn’t you love them?).
When it comes to decorations, don’t pay $30-40 for single tree ornaments from department stores – they do add up! Papier mache is your friend – grab some paper, flour and water and sculpt your own ornaments. Once dry, decorate with paint and even glitter for your own festive, personalised tree ornaments.
As for food, sometimes name brands taste better than their store brand counterparts, however you can save some cash at the checkout by buying store brand basics like flour, sugar, cocoa, vegetable oil, etc. Or spruce up cheap brand foods by adding your own twist – herbs and spices can dramatically change the flavour of foods, or change up desserts with a dusting of icing sugar or drizzle of chocolate.
Also, don’t be shy to suggest that gifts are only given to the children. This saves a lot of money and time, plus let’s face it, do you really want another candle/sweater/homeware from your well-meaning, but bad gift giving cousin?
If this idea doesn’t work with your family, perhaps organise secret santa to alleviate some of the cashflow blues. To ensure you get something you actually want, use an app like Elfster so everyone can submit a wishlist.
Beware of slow delivery
Sticking to your budget can be difficult when you see the perfect gift at prices outside your budget. If you intend to get a bargain online, ensure you plan early before the cut-off dates for shipping.
Many Australian retailers will be using Australia Post to ship orders; during the year interstate shipping times with AusPost can be 5-6 business days. This means that they would have to ship your item by 14 December to ensure the parcel is delivered by Christmas Eve. However, delays occur or you may need to factor in time to collect the item if it is taken to the postage facility.
Another factor to consider is the time it takes the retailer to pick and wrap your item for pickup by their shipping service – always read the shipping policy when placing an order online.
Top tip: It’s a common misconception that ‘Express Post’ means the items will arrive the next day. According to Australia Post, Express Post can still take 3-4 business days, so best plan ahead.
Do as much preparation in the days before
Don’t wait until the last minute, cook as much as possible before the day to reduce the pressure on the day. Prepare your salads the day before (but leaving the dressing aside to avoid making salad soggy); stuffing and roasted veggies can also be done the day before, as well as setting the table and assembling dessert. If you have a slow cooker, you can easily make ribs, gravy, mulled wine and let the slow cooker do most of the work!
As for dessert – whether you like fruitcake, pavlova, cake, fudge – most can be prepped and ready to go before the big day. Feeling lazy? Our favourite hack is chocolate bark! Remember the old rocky road recipe? Just throw your marshmallows, nuts or dried fruit on top of the melted chocolate and snap into elegantly rustic shards.
Lucky for us, this year Christmas falls on a Monday– meaning we have two days of weekend to prep before the big day.
From the Fair Go Finance team, we wish you a happy, safe and stress-free Christmas and we look forward to journeying with you to a brighter financial future in 2018!