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Getting through the festive season on a budget


The festive season is a magical time of year filled with friends, family, food and fun. But, it can also mean added financial pressure, especially if you’re committed to a budget. So, before you make your gift list, take time to answer these questions – doing so will take the stress out of the season and add joy to your gift giving.

How much can you spend?
If you’re feeling the pinch, take a look at your budget and decide what you can afford to spend on gifts this year without putting yourself on the back foot financially. With a budget in place, your next priority is to avoid blowing it!

Who are you buying for?
As much as you might love to spoil everyone in your life, working with a budget often means having to streamline your gift list. Start by adding your family and closest friends, then decide what percentage of your spend you’d like to allocate to each of them. If there’s still budget remaining at the end of your list, add in one or two of the people you left off initially.

How will you track your spend?
Keeping track of how much you’re spending is vital if you plan to stay on budget. Try using a pocket-sized notebook to keep an ongoing tally of your purchases or, if you prefer a more modern approach, use the Note function on your phone to enter your spend as you go.

Can you make any of your gifts?
If you enjoy getting creative with a piping bag, paint brush, crochet needle or sewing machine, think about who on your gift list you could surprise with a homemade gift. There are hundreds of wonderful ideas online – everything from painted plant pots to baked treats and personalised tea towels – so grab a notepad and start searching.

Can you contribute to a joint gift?
Given the rising cost of just about everything, combined family gifts are a great way to go. Just make sure that you start planning these kinds of gifts sooner rather than later as they can take some time to organise – and the one time you really want to avoid last-minute shopping is during the festive season.

What about your grandkids?
While it’s your prerogative as a grandparent to spoil your grandkids, it’s easy to get carried away when you’re shopping for them – there really is so much to choose from these days. One way to avoid racking up too much debt and still give your grandchildren a memorable gift, is to treat them to an experience like an outing to a favourite playpark, a movie, musical or ballet (there are always a few kid-friendly ones on over the festive season), or a local tourist destination they would find interesting. And if your grandchildren are slightly older, spend time doing something they’re passionate about – if your grandson is a cricket enthusiast, for example, buy two tickets to an upcoming domestic or international game and enjoy the day together.