Giving is a pleasure, but it shouldn’t be a guilty one. Christmas is a holiday for spending time with people we care about and celebrating; but if you're facing a festive season with a pretty basic budget don't worry - we have some great last minute ideas to get your through without breaking the bank.
But first - resist the temptation to overspend
Waking up in 2016 having overspent is not a debt hangover you need. According to The Australian Retailers Association, about $45 billion was spent on Christmas 2014. Australians, spend an average $2,500 each in the six weeks before Christmas, and continue to spend in post-Christmas sales.
Check out how Australians spend at Christmas on this cool infographic from Moneysmart.
This year more than one in five consumers are borrowing from family and friends or using credit cards or personal loans to fund their festive season, according to a national survey of more than 3400 people by Fair Go Finance.
The report also found that almost one-third of Australians are already stressed about their post-Christmas finances, with women more worried than men.
Here’s a few ways to dodge the pain.
Buy bargain gifts
Be a bargain shopper!
Get yourself on your local Facebook Buy Swap and Sell page. You can make money by having a last minute sale of things you want to get rid of, and you can pick up really great bargains from your local community.
Shop online - there are huge amounts of discounts on the web so search savvy and compare prices, and where you can, get free delivery.
If you've left your shopping to the last minute, then head to the stores. Shops are already discounting to get people through the doors before the 25th.
Organise a Secret Santa, where instead of buying gifts for everyone, you just buy at an agreed amount for one designated person in your group. Make it fun and easy by setting it up on the free gift exchange website Elfster.
Track your festive spend with the smart shopping list manager for iPhone, Santa's Bag.
Save and be sustainable
Save money and show concern for the environment by sending e-Christmas cards. There's lots of sites that do free one's such as Paperlesspost.com.
On trend this year and something great you can do with the family or with friends, is make your own recycled cardboard Christmas tree. There's a few great templates online. This is one of our favourites.
Eat drink and be merry on the cheap
The ‘bring a plate’ idea is well-accepted now. It’s about community, sharing and everyone pitching in – good Aussie values.
There's also lots of great ways to make sure you don't blow out on food and drink. Firstly make a plan for meals so you don't end up overbuying in the supermarket and get some inspiration on budget alternative menu ideas here.
Alcohol can be the most expensive part of the food budget, so get people to contribute. If you buy a case, you can get wine for less than $5 a bottle and free delivery on some online sites. Again shop around. Making a bowl of punch is a great way of making alcohol go further at a festive get together.
Christmas is also summer holiday time - which means a double financial whammy if you want to take a break. The good news is Australia has masses of beaches, parks and camping sites that you can visit and stay at, often for incredibly cheap and sometimes free. Here are five that we rate.
The spirit of Christmas
Above all, give the gift of being there for each other – find local opportunities to volunteer for families in need with The Smith Family.
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