Making your celebrations budget-smart

Making your celebrations budget-smart

When it comes to the festive season, we often know what we want to do and achieve, but we rarely take the time to map out what it will cost.

Thinking about your needs and wants, coupled with a dose of realism, is key. A clear plan with a sound budget will help you get closer to achieving your wish list.

What do you want from your festive season?

Some kind of celebration on Christmas Day – whether you’re hosting or not – is a given, but what else are you looking to do? Take a holiday? Keep the kids entertained? Working out your needs is the first step to creating the appropriate budget to keep spending in line.

Working out how much time you’ll take off work is a good start. Each workplace manages the holiday season differently and, if you’re lucky, time off over the summer months may already be a given. If not, you may need to plan ahead and get your leave request in early.

If you have children you’ll also need to organise activities over the festive season. This could include adding vacation care costs to your budget if you need to work and can’t ask family and friends to mind the kids.

Going away over the summer months is a great Aussie tradition, but our budgets may not allow us to have the holiday of our dreams. Fear not, there are many wonderful and alternative ways to get the rest and recreation you need. Again, all it takes is some research, forethought, creativity and planning.

What’s realistic?

Your dream is one thing, but the financial reality might preclude you attaining parts of it. Work out what the most important thing to you is: is it hosting Christmas at your place for your extended family or taking a holiday interstate? Costs add up and can become taxing on your yearly budget, so take time to plan carefully.

Despite the extra work, hosting Christmas can be a rewarding and happy experience. Some people cringe at the idea of having a larger number of people over for a meal, but it doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Keep it simple by planning an uncomplicated menu. You don’t need all the trimmings or a choice of three meats to have a good time. Maybe ask your guests to contribute a dish. Most people are happy to play their part and it makes sense to spread the load.

Get the family involved

Your family might have their own thoughts about what they want from the season. Sit down with them and work through everyone’s wishes. It could involve coming to a compromise, but hopefully everyone’s needs will be met at some level.

A family brainstorming session might also help you come up with some new budget-friendly ideas on how to celebrate the festive season and reduce the financial strain. Other members of the family will be more willing to accept a change in habits if they are part of the decision-making process.

If you make children part of the planning they’ll likely keep you more on track than you probably want them to. We can never underestimate the importance of teaching our children good spending habits, so start now and you’ll be gifting them lifelong skills.

Be vocal and upfront about your budget. By making your plan public you’ll give it a better chance of success.