How mums can prepare financially for Christmas right now.
Being a single parent can have its challenges at any time of the year, but in the lead up to the school holidays and the festive season, those challenges can seem amplified. From keeping the kids entertained and finding the right balance of screen time to gift buying and interstate trips, there are plenty of expenses to tackle … both before and during the holiday period.
To remain in control of your finances (and your sanity) during the festive season and to avoid a Christmas meltdown, we’ve put together the following money-saving tips that will steer you in the right direction.
Further reading: Co-parenting at Christmas: How to make it work.
How mums can prepare financially for Christmas right now
Use budgeting apps
There are so many budgeting apps at your disposal that can help you save money before the festive period begins. Whether it’s a joint expenditure app like Splitwise or a budget management app like Pocketbook, do some research to see what apps can help you improve your money management habits.
Use these apps to set yourself a savings goal and a detailed budget plan to put yourself in good stead before the holidays.
Find out more about budgeting apps here: Our pick of personal finance apps to budget your spending.
Suggest a Secret Santa or capped gift buying
Having a single income can make present buying seem like a nightmare come the holiday period, but you can make things easier by setting yourself a budget per person. Jot down a list of the people you’re buying for and give yourself a budget per person so that you’re not tempted to overspend. It’s also a good idea to think about what you want to buy for them before you hit the shops. That way, you won’t be swayed by any promotions or specials you see in store.
Download our super simple Christmas Budget Sheet to get a measure on your festive spending.
Secret Santa is another cost-effective way to give gifts during the holidays. This means you’re only responsible for buying a gift for one family member, which can significantly cut costs. Plus, they’ll be happy to receive a quality gift rather than several separate ones.
Create contingency fund
For peace of mind and a peaceful Christmas consider creating a contingency fund for unexpected expenses during the holiday season.
While meticulous budgeting is essential, unforeseen situations can arise, such as a sudden car repair or a medical expense.
Having a small contingency fund set aside specifically for these surprises can prevent them from derailing your entire holiday budget. It provides financial security and peace of mind, ensuring that even unexpected challenges won't compromise the joy and festivities of the season.
A contingency fund is a smart and responsible way to safeguard your finances and make sure your holiday celebrations remain merry and stress-free.
Watch your plastic spending to prepare financially for Christmas
It might be tempting to put the bulk of your expenses on your credit card during the holidays, but this is definitely something that you should avoid. Putting everything on credit could see you clocking up an excessive interest bill, which could be difficult to repay.
If you have several credit cards, think about opting for a balance transfer credit card ahead of the spending frenzy. A 0% balance transfer card means you’ll pay no interest for a given period of time, which gives you some breathing space when paying back your plastic debt. However, just make sure you pay down as much of the debt as you can during the interest-free period, otherwise you’ll be stuck paying off your balance at a much higher revert rate once the promotional period ends.
Use reward points
Is you’ve been religiously using your loyalty cards with every shop throughout the year, Christmas is the perfect time to reap the rewards.
Head into your Flybuys or Everyday Rewards accounts and check out your balance. You might have a nice surprise that will reduce the cost of food and/or gifts this year.
Basically don’t buy anything you can use your points for, so get organised and see what’s available to you nice and early.
Further reading: 10 Adult advent calendars for the Christmas lover in all of us.
Take advantage of early sales
Taking advantage of early sales and deals in September and the months leading up to December is a great way to prepare financially for Christmas
Many retailers offer significant discounts on holiday-related items such as decorations, wrapping paper, and even some gifts well before the holiday season begins.
By keeping a keen eye on these early promotions, savvy shoppers can save a substantial amount of money and alleviate the financial strain that often accompanies last-minute shopping.
This proactive approach not only helps in budget management but also ensures a stress-free and enjoyable holiday experience, allowing families to focus on the true spirit of the season.
How to prepare early for Christmas
Get savvy with online shopping
Online shopping really is the way to go. Not only is it much easier than hitting the shops at Christmas but there is heaps of choice and it’s often less expensive.
However, knowing where to shop is key.
Most stores have great incentives such as free sipping, percentage savings and even gift wrapping. Yay.
Rethink your child care costs
Unless you’re lucky enough to get time off work, it’s likely that you’ll need to fork out for childcare costs during the school holidays. These costs can make a huge dent in your savings, so if you can, try to think of alternatives. Whether it’s asking your parents or neighbours to look after the kids for a couple of days per week or organising for them to stay at a friend’s place, there are ways to get around this cost.
Asking you to prepare financially for Christmas now may seem daunting, but if you do a little groundwork early, you’ll put yourself in good stead for the festive season. Whether it’s downloading a budgeting app, pulling back on the plastic spending or finding new ways to earn reward points, there are many ways that you can prepare yourself for the holidays while keeping the littles ones happy too.
Sell unwanted items
Selling unwanted items is a great strategy to boost your Christmas budget. It's a win-win solution that not only helps you declutter your home but also generates extra cash.
Start by identifying items you no longer need or use, whether it's clothing, electronics, furniture, or collectibles. You can sell these through various platforms like online marketplaces, garage sales, or consignment shops.
The funds you raise can be directed towards your holiday expenses, helping you afford gifts, decorations, or even a special holiday treat without straining your regular budget.
It's an eco-friendly and financially savvy way to make your Christmas season more enjoyable.
Final words: How to prepare financially for Christmas right now
Preparing financially for Christmas in September, or even earlier, is a strategic move that can bring immense relief and joy during the holiday season. By implementing the practical tips outlined in this article, you can navigate the festivities with confidence and financial stability.
Starting with the use of budgeting apps and setting clear savings goals lays a strong foundation. Establishing a well-thought-out gift-buying plan, whether through Secret Santa arrangements or strict per-person budgets, ensures responsible spending without sacrificing the spirit of giving.
Managing credit card usage wisely, exploring reward points, and taking advantage of online shopping discounts are additional steps that can help stretch your budget further. Plus, reevaluating child care costs and finding cost-effective alternatives can save significant funds.
Remember, a contingency fund acts as a safety net, shielding your holiday budget from unexpected expenses. Finally, selling unused items is a proactive way to increase your Christmas fund while decluttering your living space.
By embracing these financial strategies early on, you can embrace the holiday season with enthusiasm and peace of mind, focusing on what truly matters - creating cherished memories with loved ones.