Start Preparing for Christmas in January

Christmas is one of the best times of the year; spending quality time with family and friends; sharing some hearty meals and building new memories. Unfortunately it is also one of the most expensive times of the year, a time that could leave your budget in a complete mess.

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Luckily, there are ways to beat the financial stress surrounding Christmas. Starting in January and with proper planning, it is possible to use clever money tricks that will let you enjoy a stress-free and relaxed Christmas.

  1. Make Extra Payments On Bills

    A great way of saving for Christmas is, starting in January, to make extra payments on your bills. In South Africa, our bill for electricity differs from month to month. Every month I pay R200 to R300 extra on our electricity bill ~ that is an amount of $15-$20 that I pay extra. When we get our electricity bill for December, it is usually less than it would be under normal circumstances. That leaves us with a few extra bucks and it makes it easier to afford our Christmas expenses without having to swipe a credit card.

  2. Buy Gifts Throughout the Year

    Most stores offer products and goods at a great discount after Christmas, a wonderful time for bargain hunters. What we tend to forget though is that it is not the only time of the year that store discounts are available. Most stores offer discounts after special days on the calendar, such as Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Father's Day. These occasions offer one the opportunity to start buying non-perishable stocking fillers at a fraction of the cost. Just make sure to hide them where hubby and the kids won't be able to find them!

  3. Set a Budget and Stick to It

    During Christmas it is very easy to be pulled in by all the bling and festivities that surround us everywhere we go. It is a good idea to set a proper Christmas budget. Budget for the Christmas Eve dinner, and also for the Christmas lunch. Also decide on a suitable amount that would be spent on each person's gifts. Set aside some money for entertainment too. Be prepared to make adjustments to stay within your budget. Here in South Africa, we are currently experiencing the aftermath of one of the worst droughts in history. Meat prices have started to skyrocket, so we opted to replace the traditional turkey with chicken and pork instead. Bottom line is, don't be rigid, but be willing to adapt to ensure a budget friendly Christmas.

  4. Open a Savings Account for Christmas

    Most budget writers advise you to pay yourself first before paying any of your bills, as it is regarded as the first step towards creating personal wealth. I took this advice a step further and opened a 32-day notice account in January 2016 to save for Christmas. Every month I added R200 (approximately $15) to this account. The fact that it was a 32-day notice account meant that I could not withdraw the money whenever I wanted to. I gave notice on this account at the beginning of November, and had some extra money to spend just in time for Christmas. Some notice accounts even allow one to sign a debit order so that the money could be deducted automatically at the beginning of the month. A good idea for those of us that still struggle with the idea of paying ourselves first.

  5. Make Instead of Buy

    In 2011, an article in Business Insider mentioned that Americans would spend a whopping $6 billion on Christmas decorations in that year.1 Read this again and think ~ are you one of those consumers that add to the ka-ching of the cash register? Why not rather make your own Christmas ornaments and decorations? You don't even need to be creative. Pinterest is full of great ideas, and most of these will give you step by step instructions. Yes, it is easier to just pop into the store and buy decorations, but apart from saving money that you could invest, you could spend time together as a family to build wonderful memories.

I am sure you can come up with many more ideas to beat the effects of Christmas on your budget. Happy planning and don't forget that Christmas should be fun, not a burden!

Link: http://www.businessinsider.com/americans-are-spending-a-record-6-billion-on-christmas-decorations-2011-12

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Anonymous
December 14, 20161 found this helpful

You've offered many great ideas here. Thank you for that. One more time of year I can think of when deals are offered on store goods is in July. I know that where I live the downtown stores have sidewalk sales toward the end of July and their items are greatly reduced. Everywhere is different though so, know when your town offers off season deals and shop for Christmas then.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
December 14, 20160 found this helpful

Thank you for these kind words! July, oh yes! I actually forgot about Christmas in July, probably because it is not big here in South Africa.

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December 26, 20161 found this helpful

I have a gift closet. I buy gifts throughout the year and by Thanksgiving I am done.

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I keep everyone's tastes in mind. The gifts are well-received.

Reply Was this helpful? 1
December 26, 20160 found this helpful

Great idea! Then there is no chance of last minute over-spending!

Reply Was this helpful? Yes

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