In order to save money during the holidays you need to be looking ahead and planning for known budget saboteurs. While Christmas may be a magical time for many families, it can also lead to reduced bank accounts and large debts going into January. With an average spend by Australians per person last year of $1320 it’s probably a good idea to plan ahead to make sure you stay in control of your spending on gifts, travel and food.

Steps to a Achieving a Budget Friendly Party Season

Setting a Budget in Advance

It probably seems obvious, but many people don’t budget to the silly season, leading to out of control shopping. Making and sticking to a budget ensures you are aware of your spending and save money during the holidays. Sharing your budget information with family or a friend is also a good way to stay in track, as they will help you be accountable.

Be realistic with a budget that isn’t impossible to stick to because it is too tight. Take time to plan your purchases and ensure you are allocating the right amount for each purchase. Look at areas where you can cut back as well.

It’s all in the details

Make sure you factor in the little things, that can add up, and spoil your best intentions. These include things like meals when travelling, driving costs to join family far away, Christmas decorations, small gifts for people at work, charitable donations, additional cost of food and alcohol when hosting celebrations, wrapping paper, Uber rides to avoid driving and a host of other expenses you may not think of. Really think about a realistic budget to stay in control.

Take advantage of sales through the year

Getting in early, taking advantage of sales through the year, can mean you get better bang for your buck, giving better gifts, but not exceeding your budget. Spreading the expense through the year also helps prevent blowout in December. If you are really organised you can take advantage of the Christmas sales the year before, stocking up on holiday themed decorations and gifts.

Discuss a gift spending limit with family and friends

We all want to shower our loved ones with generous gifts, but really, most people would rather not send their family and friends into debt. Set a realistic limit and stick to it and everyone will have a financially healthy new year.

Track your Spending on Christmas

Keeping track of your purchases in the lead up to Christmas can give you an idea of how you are going in terms of your budget. Some people even have a separate account for holiday spending and create spreadsheets to help keep a lid on the outgoing money.

Watch out for hidden extras

It’s easy to lose track of your hard earned dollars during the party season. Clothing for parties, buying cocktails, eating out or buying those little treats for yourself can really add up.

Feeling generous? Help those in need instead

Some families choose to invest in charitable gifts and hampers for those people for who christmas doesn’t bring joy and peace. Being charitable can enhance the spirit of christmas and make it more meaningful as a family and you’ll not only avoid budget breakers, but also create harmony and joy for yourself and other families.

Share the cost of Hosting Christmas

If everyone contributes to the christmas festivities, by bringing a dish or drink, it spreads the cost out over everyone. Don’t assume that the host will provide everything on Christmas Eve/Day/Boxing Day. Instead, ask what you can bring or cook to help out. It’s only fair to share the cost during the festivities.

Learn to Apply the Shopping Brakes

Once all your shopping is done, stop. It’s so easy to get carried away in the lead up to the holidays, and “just one more” trip to the mall can lead to a blown budget and a financial hangover in January. The stores are especially geared up to encourage you to part with your money, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the music, sounds, sights, smells and decorations. It is crucial to stop once you have completed your gift buying list and met your budget to avoid spoiling your financial fitness.

Planning in advance

You may think Christmas is so far away you don’t need to think about it yet, but it has a habit of creeping up faster than we think. In order to avoid a January budget breakdown after the holidays, planning throughout the year is highly recommended to save money during the holidays. Take advantage of sales through the year, spreading the expenditure through the preceding months, and also really thinking about what the season truly means. Do you really need to give extravagant gifts or can you achieve the same level of joy and fun and still save money during the holidays? It’s worth a rethink of your holiday spending strategy to a future of financial peace of mind.