With just over a month to go until Christmas it’s time to brave the shopping center, break out the Christmas tree and get ready for the silly season.
If you are already struggling to pay your bills and keep up with your usual living expenses you are probably dreading the holiday season, and I don’t blame you. Christmas is an expensive time of year, even if you keep your celebrations to a minimum.
It isn’t enough to make a New Year’s Resolution to get your money back on track. It can take years and some extreme measures to get your finances in order once you fall behind.
If you are worried about falling into a holiday induced debt, read on to find out how you can survive the silly season spending.
It is easy for your income to be disrupted through the silly season. You might need to take unpaid leave to care for children on school holidays, your office might be closing for a few weeks or you might be able to pick up an extra shift with extended opening hours.
Fluctuating income can be incredibly hard to manage so you will need to plan ahead. As well as your usual household bills you might need to deal with inflated grocery bills, presents, travel and entertainment costs. Try to put as much money aside as you can in the weeks leading up to Christmas and spread out your spending.
Write a mini budget for November through to February with your expected income, the bills that are due and your usual weekly expenses. Anything left over can be your designated Christmas budget which you can save or spend as you go.
No matter how strapped for cash you are, it’s hard to escape Christmas without buying presents. For close family and friends, try to organize a Secret Santa buying circle. Each person draws a name out of a hat and you are responsible for buying a present for that person. This way, instead of having to buy several presents, you only have to shop for one person and you can even set a price limit so you aren’t blowing the budget.
Kids can have an extensive and expensive list for Santa, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to make them happy. Stores like Kmart, Big W and Target have layby options for one or two larger items. You can also take up space under the tree with ‘essential’ gifts. Essential gifts are things like new PJ’s, shoes, school bags and even bed covers. Things you will need to buy for your kids throughout the year anyway, but nicely wrapped in Christmas paper.
Stockings stuffed with toys and knick-knacks from discount shops also make a great, inexpensive gift idea which will keep the kids occupied for the morning.
Christmas just isn’t the same without an abundance of food. But you may also need to buy wrapping paper, decorations and utensils. Buy packaged food like nuts and lollies when they are on special and go to your local green grocer and butcher for your meat, fruit and veg as it is often better quality and cheaper than at a supermarket.
With the kids at home, you might need to splurge more on keeping them entertained over the break. Local councils and the library often have free programs and activities for kids. Check council and library websites for a list of things to do. Shop-a-dockets also have a great range of discounts and specials from local businesses so check the back of your receipts.
Paying your Bills
Unfortunately, you can’t take a holiday from your bills, but if you plan ahead, you can get through the holidays without having to worry about them.
Phone and electrical companies will often extend deadlines if you know you are going to struggle paying your bill when it is due. If your phone bill is due on December 20 try ringing your provider and asking for an extension. Even 1-2 weeks grace would help out through the silly season.
Need a Christmas Miracle?
If you are behind in your repayments and can’t see a way out of debt, you may need to consider taking a stronger approach to your debt. If you would like to speak to a professional about your debt relief options, call Debt Rescue for an obligation free chat. We understand that no two cases of debt are the same so we learn the facts about your situation before recommending the best debt relief solution for you. Call us today on 1800 00 3328.