How to Reduce Financial Stress at Christmas

Become Wealth Editor

Enjoy your holiday with these 8 ways to bust the financial stress

The holiday period is meant to be a time for getting together, enjoying the company of family and friends, exchanging gifts, and having a good time. Unfortunately, this time of year can also be called ‘silly season’ for good reasons – including financial stresses.

Putting these eight holiday financial tips into action can help you enjoy your holiday and keep your spending in check:

1. Plan ahead

Leaving your Christmas shopping and other holiday preparations to Christmas Eve is a sure-fire recipe for Christmas angst.

Instead, get yourself organised well in advance. This might include:

  • Booking holiday travel as early as possible. If you haven’t got to this yet, stop reading and book it right now!
  • Make a prioritised list of whatever you need to get done, splitting this between what you “want” to do and what you “need” to do. (Checking accomplished items off any list is satisfying in itself).
  • Buying Christmas gifts online can help you stick to your budget, avoid crowded malls at peak times, and more easily compare deals and products.
  • If you are ‘hitting the malls’, then plan your trip in advance.
  • Request complimentary gift wrapping.
  • Consider DIY gifts. A homemade gift can often be more sentimental to the recipient and may save you some money too.
  • Setting up appropriate travel insurance.

2. Get picky – say no

Many of us do what we do during the holiday season just because we always have, turning the entire month of December into a mad whirl of non-stop holiday preparations, functions, and activities.

Get control of your life by eliminating some of these holiday activities and the costs that go with them. For example, if you’re planning a get-together, consider doing it with a few of your closest friends or relatives. You can throw big blowout parties at another time of the year when you and your guests will have fewer commitments competing for your precious time.

Each thing you eliminate can help you prioritise what you would rather be doing, including getting some deserved downtime.

3. Stick to a holiday budget

No-one wants to start 2022 with unneeded debt.

Give your credit card and your mind a holiday by limiting what you buy to what can safely come out of your bank account.

Working out a rough budget of expected Christmas costs as early as possible is a big stress reliever and will ensure you’re not overspending. The budget doesn’t just mean for presents – remember to include expenses such as food bills, travel, accommodation, and events or activities.

If your nest egg isn't enough to cover your estimated expenses, consider recalculating your Christmas budget to a more realistic amount.

4. Use social media in moderation

Stay away from the comparison trap of social media, especially at holiday time.

If you’re comparing your holiday break with everyone else’s perfectly curated online image, you’re probably playing a losing battle.

5. Choose travel-proof gifts

For those travelling these holidays, dragging presents through airport security, or packing them in an already-crammed car can be a pain.

Instead, try ordering gifts to be delivered, or try using gift cards and small easily transported items.

6. De-clutter

The New Year and Christmas break is a perfect time for the approach of “out with the old and in with the new”.

Get rid of the clutter before Christmas gets here. For every new toy that the kids will open on Christmas morning, get rid of two. Make your kids a part of it so they know they’re donating their well-loved toys to other less-fortunate kids.

What better time to sort through and organise your clothes, garage, spare spaces, and kitchen? You can throw some out, donate some, and probably sell some for a little extra holiday spending money.

7. Be careful with credit card purchases and financing deals

Make sure you know what you’re getting into. If (worst case) you need to use credit, then be honest with yourself about what you can repay. A few hundred dollars of gifts can end up costing much more if you’re paying them off until winter or longer.

8. Remember to have fun

After all, what are holidays for?

The bottom line

Putting these holiday financial tips into action can help keep your spending in check and make your holiday season a lot more enjoyable:

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Get picky and say no
  3. Stick to a holiday budget
  4. Use social media in moderation
  5. Choose travel-proof gifts
  6. De-clutter
  7. Be careful with credit card purchases and financing deals
  8. Have fun!