As you unpack the Christmas tree and colonise your living room with baubles and lights, it’s not all tinsel and pudding. The silly season can be extremely stressful, on top of your usual workload there’s end of year duties, family drama and a never-ending pressure to go out and celebrate. Enter the budget.
Often conceived as a noose around the neck of fun, budgeting doesn’t have to halt your grand plans. It just has to be realistic. Gifts, extended family, gluttonous feasts and endless champagne, as long as it’s accounted for it’ll be a swimming two months. Calculators at the ready, here’s how to keep all your checks and balances lined up.
Be honest use your statements not your memory
A budget is just your expenses and your income, but something about the spreadsheet format triggers people into a frenzy of credit card purchases. Perhaps it’s the glaring reality that you don’t have as much money as you thought/want/need. And because of this emotional angst tied to the map of your dollars and cents, don’t let your feelings cloud your judgement.
When drawing up a budget you have to be honest, how much do you actually make a month and realistically how much do you spend. Although you may think shuffling some of the energy bill budget into your weekly wine fund is kosher, you’re only cheating yourself. Start from your statements and work from there.
Presents entertainment groceries it all adds up
The holiday season is overburdened with expenses, you may as well get your salary out in cash at the beginning of the month and watch it fleet away note by note. Giving is great, and relishing the Christmas spirit wonderful but the monetary hangover isn’t worth it.
Less Oprah gifting free cars, more heartfelt gifts with a lesser pricetag ok.
When you’re drawing up your budget include everything, the presents, the wrapping, the novelty candy canes and just how much you need for a night out. Don’t allocate $100 for your 24 person extended family if your method of purchasing is a stretched out credit card. Instead gift just the kids or donate in their name, or just spend a more quaint amount that you can afford on your own bankroll.
The entire season is indulgent, and to save yourself from feeling bloated post – cut back on your usual luxuries for Christmas expenditure instead. It doesn’t have to be about sacrifice if your savvy about it. But do you really need to splurge on a degustation dinner if your mum is serving a day long brunch? Probably not.
Do your research and follow the discounts
Shopping in store during Christmas is pure madness, a pandemonium of angry shoppers and squealing children. So not only for your budget but for your sanity, do you research before you shop. Catalogues, aggregator sites like Finder and secondhand sites such as eBay, Gumtree are your best friend.
Once you’ve decided what you hope to purchase for family member number five, look it up everywhere to ensure you get the best price. That budget will thank you with an extra coffee on your last day of work.
Shop online where you can and you’ll be less tempted by in store promotions and able to peruse without distraction. Although that 25-piece kitchen set is darn cheap, you really don’t need it.
Instead of spending cash, invest your time. Let Etsy be your inspiration and start crafting your gifts this year. It’s cost effective and for the fiddle-some out there, a stress reliever. Cards, wrapping and personalised gifts are simple to whip up and make an impact with your loved ones. Would you rather a hastily bought bath gel set with itchy loofa or a handmade treasure? Yup, didn’t think so.
There’s something so incredibly distressing about watching your PayPass tapping ways reconciled on Monday morning. Like watching your money flushed all at once. Money when it’s just numbers on a screen can feel intangible, so instead work with cash. If you’ve done your prep online and only have a few extra bits and bobs to purchase, allocate an amount and head to the ATM. Using cash will force you to be present when you shop and halt absent minded purchases steadfast.
Instead of regifting sell online
Don’t risk the peril of regifting to the same person, welcome the internet. Listing your unused wares online is no new endeavour, but at a time of restricted cashflow every extra dollar counts. Sell your old clothes, rent your party dress and purge yourself of all the horrible gifts that have clogging up your closet. You’re never going to need that nose hair trimmer or jewellery box from the aunty that forgets your age.
Remember what it’s all about
As much as it’s about gifts and frivolity, the silly season is about being thankful; For your family, your friends even your colleagues and a little mindfulness goes a long way. Don’t get wrapped up in the gifting and the spending, think how fortunate you are. Say they do resent you for not spending a certain amount, perhaps they’re not worth your time.
If your secret Santa gift has you tearing your hair out, take a moment and try to recall a time with that co-worker or a quaint joke and roll with that. If all else fails you have Facebook to fall back on. Just don’t let it dampen your mood or pollute your spirit. That’s your cue to call home and tell Mum you love her. Go on.
Image source: Public Holidays.com.au.