Financial planner Dianne Chapman talks about how to avoid debt this Christmas by making your own food and other gems of wisdom.
Financial planner Dianne Chapman talks about how to avoid debt this Christmas by making your own food and other gems of wisdom. Rob Williams

Budgeting can make Christmas a stressful time for families

DIANNE Charman loves Christmas, but the AMP financial planner also realises it can be a stressful time for some families.

Ms Charman said being money smart during the festive season doesn't have to mean becoming a Scrooge.

She suggested a simple budget to help control silly season spending.

"With so many additional expenses to account for - such as the cost of presents, Christmas food shopping and holiday outings - careful budgeting is essential," Ms Charman said.

From providing food for the Christmas table, to gift-buying and going on holiday, Ms Charman said money could be saved in many different areas.

"Hosting Christmas lunch is expensive but you can spread the cost by asking everyone to bring a dish," she said.

"Your family and friends won't mind being asked to bring a salad or dessert."

Ms Charman said budgeting for gifts ahead was also a must-do.

"Use catalogues and shop online to find the best deals," she said.

"While credit cards are convenient, they can be addictive over the Christmas period and undo a well-planned budget."

Making or baking unique gifts is another savvy option, Ms Charman said.

"If you have a talent for craft or baking you can create inexpensive presents such as home-made fruit cakes... if you can sew, knit or have other skills, a personalised gift will be even more special," she said.

Ms Charman said families also needed to plan for post-Christmas spending, including holidays during the school break and expenses in the New Year.

"If you're going away, try to pay off your accommodation costs in instalments before you leave."

"Factor in the big expenses you'll be facing in the New Year (such as) back to school costs."

 

SIX SMART TIPS

  1. Share the Christmas lunch duties by asking everyone to bring a plate of food.
  2. Be a smart shopper - set a budget or run a Secret Santa.
  3. Put away the credit card.
  4. Pay off your Christmas holiday in instalments, preferably before you leave.
  5. Get creative and bake or make inexpensive presents.
  6. Don't forget to budget for expenses in the New Year.

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