5 ways to survive the costs of Christmas

Santa isn’t real.

There, we said it.

And it’s just as heartbreaking now as it was when you were five, six, or seven(teen?) years old, but perhaps more so because it means no jolly fat man will be shimmying down the chimney to pay for everyone’s presents.

Try these five tips to get your Christmas all wrapped up in a bow.

A+ Would trade again!

Dust off that creaky old Gumtree account and get ready to sell off some junk. Get everyone in the household to pull together a pile of things they no longer want – whether that’s last year’s presents, books they’ve finished or clothes they no longer wear.

You’ve got nothing (important) to lose and plenty of pocket money to gain. Plus, it will help clear some space for the incoming gifts.

Skip all the way to bank

It’s not just your bank account that can feel bloated after the Christmas glut. Aussies spent $554 million on in-home food and drink over Christmas in 2012 according to a Fairfax Media study, and putting on a little extra padding around the hips over the season isn’t uncommon.

That said, there is one study that makes this less of an inevitability and more of a possibility. Researchers from the University of Bath in the UK found that even though there’s no denying the extra calories from a second helping of ham or a top up of those bubbles, a short daily workout will scare off most of that unwanted weight.

Swap out movies or other paid activities for a family walk, a game of backyard cricket or a swim at the beach and save yourself the cash and the calories. While you’re at the supermarket, remember that you probably don’t need to buy three boxes of luxury chocolate and a bottle of Champagne “just because it’s Christmas” – keep the celebrations realistic and both your wallet and your waistline may thank you.

12 days of Christmas

Half of all Aussies don’t even start thinking about Christmas presents until some point in December. 41 per cent don’t start until then and 9 per cent wait until the week before the big day, says the Fairfax report.

Yet the sooner you start planning, the more you can spread out the financial cost of the celebrations. Make a list, check it twice, and stick to your budget.

If you’re really onto it you can pick up non-perishable Christmas items such as decorations, wrapping paper and cards after Boxing Day to use when the next silly season rolls around.

The gift of giving and giving the gift

Sold off old goods, saved on pricey outings and spent weeks saving up and still can’t quite fathom the Christmas budget? Take another look at the kinds of gifts you’re planning on buying.

Try looking at gifts of memberships or subscriptions such as gyms and magazines, that you can pay for in weekly or monthly installments. Similarly, pull out the Velocity-rewards-earning credit card to buy yourself some time by putting it on the credit card and paying it in the following month. You could earn yourself some rewards points along the way.

Consider a picnic out with your group of friends instead of all buying each other gifts. Or organise for one $10 secret santa gift within the extended family instead of gifts for the whole clan. More often than not, everyone else is going to be thankful you suggested an alternative!

Make a time capsule

Give yourself a helping hand for next year by making notes of your spends, advice that worked and expenses you weren’t expecting. Open it up next year when you start planning the season (2 per cent of Aussies begin in June/July, you know) so you have a head start on how much you need to save and what you can expect.

What’s your best tip for cruising through Christmas?