Nov 23 2023

Nine ways to cut costs this Christmas

Christmas is a period of joy and celebration, but it can also be an expensive time of year, with costs over and above ordinary monthly expenses for things like travel, fancy food and multiple gifts. Even in a good year Christmas can leave people’s wallets feeling a bit bruised and battered. But add in the spike in living costs and many people will be approaching this festive season feeling a little stressed and anxious.

With a bit of preparation and creativity, it’s possible to keep a lid on yuletide spending. Here are nine ways to take the sting out of the silly season:

1. Plan ahead and set a budget
One of the best ways to avoid overspending is to plan ahead and set a realistic budget for your Christmas expenses. Think about what you need and what you can afford, make lists for food and gifts along with a budget, and stick to it.

Online budgeting tools can help you get a better handle on your incomings and outgoings. We’ve added a handy budgeting resource to the Lifetime Workplace Savings website. Click here to check it out.  


2. Shop smart and compare prices
Before you buy anything online or in-store, compare prices and look for deals and discounts. You can use online tools like Pricespy to check the best prices for various products.


3. Buy local and support small businesses
Save money and help your community by buying local. There are often a lot of local markets that pop up before Christmas, where you can find unique and handmade gifts. Or, if you’re buying for someone who doesn’t really need any more ‘stuff’, consider the feel-good gift of a charity voucher through a service like The Good Registry.


4. Be creative and make your own gifts
If you have the time and skills, you can use your talents to create something special and personal, such as a painting, a poem or story, a photo album, a scrapbook, a quilt, a knitted garment, baked goods, jams, or pickles.


5. Adopt a secret santa
If you have a lot of people to buy for, suggest the ‘Secret Santa’ approach to gifting where each person chooses just one other to buy for. It’s a double whammy, helping to avoid overconsumption as well as keeping costs down. Similarly, buying a 'family gift', such as a large box of chocs, tin of biscuits or lollies, or a board game, can be a great way to gift to a group rather than buying individual presents.


6. Gift your time
Instead of buying gifts, consider gifting your time. Think pet sitting, babysitting, dog walking, house or car cleaning, lawn mowing, or gardening, depending on your mobility. It’s bound to go down well with time-poor family members!


7. Go digital
If you like to send out holiday cards, consider sending e-cards this year to cut down costs and be a little more environmentally friendly.


8. Cook smart and save on food
Food is one of the biggest expenses at Christmas, but you can save money by planning ahead and keeping an eye out for specials and deals, as well as resisting the urge to overdo it with three different meats, seven side dishes, and five desserts! Buy meat when it’s on sale and freeze it or buy cheaper cuts and slow cook it. Make sure you freeze leftovers where possible and get creative with what you can’t freeze to get a few additional meals out of Christmas dinner.


9. Start again in January
While it might not help this Christmas, the holidays are a lot more manageable if you’ve been putting away money each month instead of trying to come up with it all in November and December. Consider opening a separate bank account – you can even give it a festive name – and putting a small amount in each fortnight. Supermarket Christmas Clubs are also useful for building up a festive buffer and usually offer additional savings for members. Check out your supermarket’s website for details or ask instore.