Dear Santa: Help - I can’t afford Xmas!

Does Christmas create a love/hate relationship with your money? You may love some things about Christmas, but hate the strain it puts on your finances.

It’s easy to overspend on presents and the holidays, especially if others have unrealistic expectations of how much money you’ll spend.

Saving up for Christmas

To be more prepared for next Christmas, keep track of how much this year’s Christmas-related costs add up to. Work out how much that would be to save weekly or monthly next year – e.g. into a separate savings account that earns interest.

To help you save, see our online Journey: 'Saving Up for Spending'

Supermarket Christmas Clubs

For groceries, these can return more value than putting money into a savings account. The various supermarket Christmas Clubs will give you a bonus discount at the end of the year (between 4-5%), on top of the amount you have put in.

Avoid grocery/shopping schemes where you put money in but don’t earn any extra value and/or you pay a fee for joining, and especially if you’d end up paying a LOT more for items than if you bought them yourself (e.g. Crisco).

You can compare Christmas savings schemes in this Consumer NZ article.

Sell unwanted items

Throughout the year you could clear out and sell household items online (e.g. Trademe, Facebook Marketplace) or have a garage sale before Christmas.

Gift giving without blowing the budget

Secret Santa / Presents just for children / No presents

Some families and workplaces do ‘Secret Santa’: everyone draws the name of one person to buy for. No one will know who bought their present and you all agree on a price limit for all the presents.

Another option (particularly helpful for large families), is to only buy presents for children. You could also go a step further and set a price limit.

Some families choose not to give or receive any presents, then they can put the money towards other things, like paying for their holiday, or donating to charity at Christmas.

Make presents / Give the gift of time

At least some of your presents could be handmade by you and if you have children, making gifts with you also creates special Christmas memories.

Giving a voucher or ‘IOU’ for your time to do something helpful, can also be a meaningful gift. And for some people, thoughtful ‘acts of service’ mean more to them than store-bought presents.

Take a Staycation

Travelling and paying for accommodation at Christmas can be so expensive! Rather than going away on holiday, you could have a ‘staycation’ and use some of the money saved, to go on day trips and try new experiences locally.

Avoid using Credit

Try not to use any type of credit for your Christmas shopping. It can be tempting to use ‘buy now pay later’ services, but there are pros and cons. (Read related Blog Post: Buy Now Pay Later Regret it Later?)

Keep paying your bills

Paying late means you could get penalty fees, and late payments may affect your credit rating. If you definitely can’t pay a bill on time, let the business know before payment is due.

Change the way you feel about money

We’re here to help you be on great terms with your finances (and Christmas)! Love My Money also has trusted financial partners who can provide extra support, such as free and confidential budgeting advice: People Who Can Help.