"I am amazed how many people put themselves in debt over Christmas," says Diana Mathew, author of the successful book and budgeting system, The Money Tree. She stresses the importance of planning ahead to ensure a debt-free Christmas for 2011.
"There are a few things you are going to have to do so that a merry December doesn't turn into a miserable May," she said.
For those in financial difficulty, she urges them to aim for a debt-free Christmas. Only spend what you can afford and replace gifts with a letter of love that can be cherished; or issue your own voucher for some odd jobs for an elderly person; or undertake some home-baking. Christmas is often a time of extra pressure and financial stress and it is at this time that rates of suicide and domestic violence increase, so it makes sense to keep the pressures to a minimum and don't spend, or incur debt, unnecessarily.
Mathew's tips for a stress-free Christmas 2011:
- Make a list of all your expected expenditure for Christmas 2011. This would include writing down each person you are purchasing for and the amount you will spend on each; food and drinks; extras such as bon-bons, gift-wrap, decorations and so on; postage for gifts and cards that need to be sent; any other expenses you may incur at this time such as travel, telephone calls, clothing, costs of work functions, accommodation, activities you intend to do during the school holidays and anything else you may be required to pay for.
- If you have a large extended family, suggest placing everyone's name in a hat so that each person can pick out just one person to buy for with a specific limit on the amount you can spend.
- In place of one household footing the entire catering bill, suggest that each guest brings a dish. Pre-plan the menu and allocate appropriately.
- Total up all the amounts and calculate how many pay days you have until Christmas. Now divide the number of pay days into the total of your expected expenditure. For example, you plan to spend $2500 and there are 26 pay days until Christmas--you will therefore need to put aside $96 a week. Ask yourself "Can I afford this amount?' and if the answer is no, trim down your expenditure list.
"People who do the Christmas exercise are shocked by what they actually spend," said Mathews.
"The earlier you start saving for Christmas, the easier it will be on your budget because your weekly or fortnightly saving amount will be less."
Compiled by Tracey Vale from HypePR