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With just over two months to go until Christmas, now’s a good time to start budgeting and planning so you don’t start the new year off in the red.

Christmas is often the most expensive time of the year for many people. According to ASIC, Aussies are expected to spend around $1,000 over the Christmas period this year which includes an eye-watering $600 or so just on gifts. If you’re keen to not get yourself into strife then your best strategy is to plan ahead. You’ll have time to calmly prepare, save in the meantime, and avoid last-minute panic buys.

Follow this Christmas countdown time line to keep on track and to start the new year cash positive.

10 weeks to go – begin planning

  • Create your budget and write it down in your planning list – use the tables at the bottom. Focus on these three categories:

    • Presents: Write down how much you ideally want to spend for each of your loved ones.
    • Food/drink: This is vitally important if you’re the one putting on most of the main spread.
    • Other: Includes any miscellaneous costs such as decorations, cards, travel costs etc.
Start planning your first list well in advance.

9 weeks to go – research gifts

  • This is particularly important where kids are concerned. Ask them to choose one or two toys that they really want and aim to get it if it’s within reason. This will work out much better for everyone than wandering aimlessly around a toyshop at the last minute. Less is more. Another advantage is that you can look up the prices online and factor it into your budget.

8 weeks to go – start buying gifts

  • It’s a good idea to start early if you’re ordering presents online. Although most delivery times are fairly prompt, it’s always wise to leave plenty of time for things to arrive. Try searching for goods from Australian sites first such as ebay Australia as domestic sites often offer free delivery. If you’re buying from stores in person shopping in advance will also give you more choice as there will be more stock.

    Once you start spending, use a budget tracking app such as Christmas Budget Planner which lets you set budgets, plan gifts, create wish lists and shopping lists. It makes sure you don’t forget anything or anyone and tracks your spending progress during the holiday season.

Christmas lunch doesn't have to be an over the top meal.

6 weeks to go – finalise Christmas lunch plans

  • If you’re the host, you could offset some of the cost by asking others to bring something along. One person could bring nibblies, another can prepare a salad and someone else could bring the alcohol.

    If it’s up to you to provide the main food, to lower costs aim to have no leftovers the next day. Remember, if you were dining at a restaurant you’d get regular portions and no more than three courses. Here’s a sample menu for six people:

    • Entrée: Cold seafood salad. Each person should receive about four to five prawns or smoked salmon pieces. Include avocado and other greens finished off with a nice dressing.
    • Main: A roast meat with vegetables. As a guide a 3kg turkey ($6.99 per kilogram from Aldi) will comfortably feed six people. Include a scoop of stuffing per person and three to four types of roast vegetables. For each guest allocate one potato, and two pieces each of pumpkin, sweet potato and carrot.
    • Dessert: Pavlova or plum pudding with custard and cream – not both. One serve each.

5 weeks to go – review festive décor

  • Christmas decorations usually go up one month in advance, so if you need décor, hunt around for them this week. To save time, also consider getting a pop-up tree. All you need to do it pull it out of the box and it’s ready to go!

Organise your festive décor the week before your tree goes up.

4 weeks to go – buy non-perishable food and drink

  • Start buying any goods such as biscuits, chocolate and alcohol that you can store. If you need to order a turkey or ham do this now.

2 weeks to go – buy extra knick-knacks

  • Whilst you should have all your main gifts by now, pick up any extras you need such as kids stocking stuffers. You can get inexpensive little bits and pieces from bargain shops or second-hand stores. Just don’t buy too many as the cost will add up. You can also pick up inexpensive gift tags, card and wrapping paper from these places.

1 week to go – buy your fresh produce

  • Closer to the big day buy all meat, seafood, vegies and salad.

1 day to go – have a glass of wine

  • Take a deep breath – you’ve made it. Hopefully you’ve stayed on track and managed to keep your costs down this year!

Christmas Planning List

Mum and dad
Brothers and sisters
Nieces and nephews
Other relatives
Other presents
Turkey and ham
Other meat including seafood
Vegetables and salad
Other groceries
Nibblies – chocolate, chips, nuts, biscuits, etc.
Beverages – alcohol and soft drinks
Other food and drink
Christmas tree
Decorations including gift wrapping
Cards and postage
Travel costs/ accommodation/ petrol
Spending money
Other expenses
  • Use a calculator to get an estimate of how much you can borrow. Try one here.

  • See if you qualify. To get a more accurate idea of how much you can borrow with State Custodians, click here.

  • Call our Lending Specialists and they can do the calculation for you over the phone plus answer any questions you have at the time. Talk to us on 13 72 62.