You don’t need someone to tell you that Christmas is a stressful holiday period at the best of times; adding financial stress on top of that creates a burden on your emotional and mental wellbeing.
Here are some useful tips on how to reduce that and have a happy Christmas.
Tips to manage the financial burden of Christmas
Minimise gift giving
One of the major expenses during the Christmas period are the buying and giving of gifts. There is a lot of anxiety over how much to spend, how much you can afford, whether it will be liked, whether it will impress.
Instead of spending to impress, ask the person/people you are buying for what they need. If the answer is not a viable one for you, that is too expensive, perhaps you can give an ‘experience’ instead. Volunteer your time where you cook a meal, give a massage, clean for a day or babysit for that person.
If you must give a gift and come from a big family or have a large group fo friends, suggest doing a Secret Santa with a sizeable budget, knowing that you’re still spending less buying for one than if you bought every person a cheap gift.
Alternatively rope the kids into helping you create gifts or hampers for friends and family. Get them to paint and write messages on cups or boxes, get the kids in the kitchen to bake festive treats or help them make jam or chutney as part of a hamper to be enjoyed on Christmas.
Create a spending plan
The fact is when you can see where your money is going, it decreases stress as it decreases the shock of finding you’ve blown your budget.
Make sure your budget is realistic and well thought out, compensating for as many unknowns as possible. Having some leeway is also a good idea so you can cover any surprises.
Make sure you’re tracking spending by putting up a summary in an obvious place, such as the fridge, so that you are held accountable by others in the family. This is an effective way to keep control of a budget.
Ask for help
If your stress levels are still on the rise and you are feeling overwhelmed, ask familiar friends for help. Instead of catering for the whole family over Christmas lunch, ask people to bring a plate.
Charitable organisations, such as St. Vincent de Paul or Salvation Army can also provide some relief by handing out discount vouchers or hampers to families that need it. The Healthy Mummy website also has a host of budget-friendly and healthy recipes to share over this Christmas period.
If you find your money situation is at a point of crisis for your mental wellbeing and for the financial security of your family, there are services out there to help manage debt and ease pressure.
Visit the National Debt Helpline or call on: 1800 007 007