As your family expands, Christmas gets more expensive every year.

Australians reportedly spend more on Christmas than any other country, an estimated $30 billion this year – leaving many people in debt and falling short on mortgage payments come January.

Here are some top tips for a happy, budget friendly Christmas for your family without totally breaking the bank.

Shop Around

With traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers struggling to compete against cheap online sellers, many are offering great deals to woo Christmas shoppers. Our research shows Australian retailers are more competitive than they were 12 months ago.

Compare Prices

Always do your research and compare prices. Many stores will also price match for you. We recently compared Christmas food prices at the major supermarkets, and found prices at Aldi to be 19% cheaper than Coles or Woolworths.

Preloved Baby

You can often find second hand toys and children’s clothes in beautiful condition (just look at Australian Baby Bargains!) Many are even sold “BNWT” – brand new with tags. Children go through toys and clothes so quickly and they won’t even be aware that items are preloved. After all, you’d be delighted to receive a vintage Chanel handbag, so why wouldn’t they love “heirloom Lego”?!

Spread the Cost

There are many credit cards on the market with low or even 0% interest on purchases for an introductory period, often for 6 months or even longer. What’s great about these offers is that they can help you spread the cost of Christmas. So long as you make the minimum monthly repayments, you won’t get hit by any interest.

Get Haggling!

Shops are desperate to sell their wares before Boxing Day, when everything gets heavily discounted, so don’t be too shy to haggle. Sales staff often have discounts ready up their sleeve, and even if they can’t knock the price down, they may be able to include an accessory for free.

Earn Rewards

If you’re spending hundreds or even thousands this Christmas, make sure you’re getting something back. Store loyalty card points or reward credit card points can earn you discounts off flights, shopping discounts and even cash back.

Stick to a Budget

Don’t max out your cards. Remember that a $5,000 limit isn’t $5,000 of free cash, it’s a debt that you’ll have to repay. Set limits. If you’re from a huge family, discuss a gift price cap with your relatives, or even organise a Kris Kringle for adults.

DIY It

Your children will come back from daycare or school laden with homemade gifts for you, so why not return the favour? A little bit of time and creativity can result in personalised gifts that suit your child’s needs and likes. If you’re not crafty, you could always cheat and try Etsy.

It’s possible to have a truly magical Christmas without wrecking your family’s budget. Don’t forget there are also lots of free festive events put on by local councils and other organisations, with fun things for kids to do. Carols in the park with a sausage sizzle and a petting zoo is more enjoyable and affordable than queuing for a hour to get an expensive Santa photo.

Author

Kirsty Lamont is a finance expert at www.mozo.com.au which helps Australians compare credit cards, home loans and other financial products. As a busy working mother Kirsty knows how hard it is to keep healthy habits when time and money are tight, and is happy to share her tips and tricks.

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