Gerry Incollingo is the MD of LCI Partners, specialising in accounting advisory, lending, wealth, property, insurance and legal.
Christmas can be an expensive time of the year and can put undue stress on you to ensure your family and friends have the perfect day. However, you don’t need to put yourself in debt to make sure Christmas is fun for everyone. These top tips will help you reduce your money stress and spend less this Christmas than ever before.
1. Serve up ‘5-star portions’
Ever been to an expensive restaurant and your eyes have boggled at the distinct lack of food on the plate? This year, you’re going to turn your kitchen into a Michelin-star. Make it a culinary experience and go for quality over quantity. Australia already has an obesity problem, and while tradition is to eat until you can’t move, you can save more than ever before with smaller portions. Think seafood nibbles, meat and vegetables on skewers, pre-portioned salads in lettuce cups, and bite sized desserts. You will find guests don’t like to pile their plate too high when food is portioned out already.
2. Say yes to a potluck
Who really wants to spend the whole day slaving over a hot oven when you can encourage friends and family members to bring a contribution. To avoid everyone bringing dessert or nibbles, delegate dishes. For example, Aunty Bertha is in charge of the potato bake, while parents have been tasked with bringing beverages. This ensures the expense is distributed evenly, and invites participation from all involved. Asking for people’s recipes is a great icebreaker too!
3. Use coupons, discount codes and reward points.
You can save money on your grocery bill by only buying items when they are on sale. Keep an eye on your inbox or mailbox for sales, research discount codes online, and make sure you take advantage of your frequent shopper reward points that may provide you with a reduction on the food bill. Every dollar you save this time of year is another dollar you can hold onto for next year
4. Have a dry Christmas
Alcohol can really eat into the budget! A case of beer or a bottle of nice wine to serve with the Christmas ham can be equivalent to another few dishes to serve up, or could give you an extra $40 or $50 to put towards the household groceries when the Big Day is all wrapped up. It doesn’t mean you have you put cordial and soft drink out on the table – there are plenty of non alcoholic beverages to choose from in the supermarkets these days that can up the ante of your alcohol-free Christmas.
Overspending can lead to feelings of regret, anxiety, and stress. If you don’t have a budget, you can get a head start on 2022’s Christmas with the very simple 50/30/20 rule. The numbers each represent a percentage. So, if you were to use this easy budgeting system, 50% of your wages go to rent/mortgage, food, and petrol. 20% goes directly into a savings account for emergencies and what’s leftover—that’s yours to spend how you wish, such as Christmas shopping, streaming services, little luxuries that make life worth living.
You don’t have to be a scrooge to save this Christmas! Remember though, Christmas is just one day of the year.