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Christmas is fast approaching and Santa has already laid plans to destroy all your good budgeting work for the entire year!

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With Aussies set to spend close to ten billion dollars on Christmas gifts this year, now is not to the time to go blowing your budget. You can still get all the warm fuzzies of watching your loved ones open awesome gifts without crying into your empty wallet for months into the new year.

We all know Christmas is an expensive time of year. With additional time off work, extra mouths to feed, holiday & travel plans and of course that adorable letter to Santa from your 5 year old containing a list of items that will easily smash your credit card limit.

Listed below are a few tips and tricks to meet your Christmas Budget that even Santa would approve of. Some need to be put in to practice well before now so maybe a heads up for next year.

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Set a Christmas Budget – Write a list of every single person that you need to buy for, an amount you feel comfortable spending on them and STICK TO IT. If you go $3 above on one person – make sure you make it up on another, a small overspend on every person can add up!

Do a Secret Santa If you have a large family and everyone usually buys everyone a gift – it may be time to suggest a secret Santa. This way you can set the budged that you are all comfortable with and instead of getting 10 pretty average gifts from the rellies you get one awesome one.

Set an age limit and budget for the kids – If you have say 20 nieces and nephews this can also be a huge expense. Get the adults in the family to come to an age appropriate budget and again stick to it. I.E under 10’s get a $5 present and 10’s and over get a $10 present. Whatever your family is comfortable spending. The less kids obviously the more you can probably budget for.

Buy second hand – Your 3 year old looks deep into your eyes and tells you that he knows Santa will bring him that remote control ride on Mercedes you saw at Myer for $700? You really wanna make his Christmas dreams come true…. but $700?? Look at online second hand sites, your 3 year old is not going to pull you up and say hey – this Merc has some obvious wear and tear happening, is this second hand?? Sites like Gumtree, Ebay and there are heaps of local face book sale sites that will no doubt have what your looking for. And don’t be afraid to ask to inspect the item before buying – you don’t want to end up with a lemon!

Order Online – Have you seen an incredible kitchen gizmo that would be perfect for Aunty Peggy at the fancy kitchen shop in the Plaza? Well Google that gizmo and I guarantee you’ll find it online for a fraction of the cost. Keep in mind that some of these sites can take up to 2 months to deliver so make sure you check out the delivery date and add an extra week just to be sure.

Save Throughout the Year – You know that this shopping blow out is coming every single year, you should try and figure out your average festive spend, divide it by however may pay cycles you have throughout the year and put that amount aside into a Christmas Budget Fund (much like a holiday fund). This will make the financial pressure A LOT easier come Santa list time.

Get Creative – Really doing it hard financially? Give the gift of time. Do up some vouchers. Give a 3 hour babysitting voucher to your cousin who you know hasn’t left the house in 6 months. A lawn mowing or garden clean up voucher to Uncle Frank who busted his hip this year and cant get around the garden like he used to. Think about what you can do for people that they would really appreciate and that is not going to cost you anything but your time. Trust me – these gifts will be just as well received as a gold watch.

Be Sensible With Credit – Before you begin spending up large, it’s a good idea to review your credit card. Australians average credit card debt currently stands at around $4,300 per cardholder, with an annual interest bill of $700 – if the interest rate is between 15% to 20%. So the interest alone could undo all your awesome bargain hunting and leave you worse off than paying cash at a higher price. So if you plan to give your credit card a workout this Christmas consider shopping around for a good deal, not on gifts but on the actual credit card itself. Many credit card companies offer an interest free term and if you can pay the amount off in the set time you could save yourself heaps.

There are hundreds of other great ways to create and stick to a sensible Christmas Budget but if we don’t wrap this up soon there’ll be no time for shopping!

If you have any Christmas Budget tips, gift giving ideas, cost cutting ways, or any Christmas hacks we would LOVE to hear them! Please comment below so we can see what other great ideas are out there!

Happy Shopping