The Christmas decorations are already in shopping centres around the country, prompting the “How many sleeps until Christmas?” question that will follow most of us around for the next couple of months.

There’s no doubt that Christmas can be a lot of fun, for adults and kids alike, but it can also be an expensive time of year. It’s undoubtedly the time in which our credit card usage peaks!

So this year, instead of changing the topic when the kids start talking about Christmas so far in advance, let’s use the opportunity to get our own Christmas wish-list in place. Right up there at number one: easing the stress on the credit card!

Here are some simple tips how...

Make a list, check it twice

Write down a list of everyone for whom you intend to buy a gift. Having a written list avoids the last-minute panic and rush (and expense). You can also jot down a rough idea of how much you want to spend on each person, so that you know what the grand total will be.

Steady shopping

Shop gradually over the next couple of months as you see things to buy. It’s awful to see something fantastic, know that a particular family member would love it, but not buy it, only to regret it a few months later. Putting money aside regularly will give you the confidence to buy on the spot. And if you haven’t quite saved up enough yet, then…

Use lay-by

The beauty of starting shopping early is that if you don’t have the cash that week then you can use lay-by instead of credit. It can be an easy, convenient and much cheaper alternative!

Start a savings plan

Know how much you want to spend and start putting small, regular amounts away. If, for example, your gift budget is $800, that’s around $40 a week to save between now and then. A bank account, biscuit tin or coffee mug... it doesn’t matter where you keep the money.Saving it regularly is the key!

Choose carefully

According to a recent Mattel ToyLab survey, Aussie mums spend an average of $500 a year on toys for each of their children and more than a third admit that their child has received a least one toy that has remained unopened. Which is a shame, because if you give an unwanted item then, no matter what the cost, it’s just wasted money!

To market, to market…

Often you can pick up some fantastic gifts at your local craft or farmers’ markets. Not only are items sometimes cheaper here than their store-bought equivalents, you can also find more original gifts. Plus, markets can be a really fun day out for the whole family.

Web bargains and strong Aussie dollar

For a stay-at-home option, browse online auction and sales sites like eBay and DealsDirect for original and cost-effective gifts. With the strength of the Australian dollar look to buying on US sites! Buying online can save money while avoiding the crowds and traffic, too.

Go high-tech

For a modern take on Christmas cards, send them online! There’s no card cost and no postage with e-cards and the kids will love the novelty of them. Hallmark has a great e-card site at


Festive alcohol can be a sneaky expense and shopping early can potentially save you heaps! Work out what you need, then keep an eye out for specials over the next few months. Of course, you have to remember to put it aside...

Get crafty

Kids love getting involved with Christmas preparations, so why not harness that excitement? Rather than spending money on cards and decorations, make them at home instead!

Be a master chef

Even with regards to the Christmas food, it’s amazing how much you can save by having a plan. Simply writing a menu and a corresponding shopping list will help to reduce impulse buys, doubling-up and food wastage – and in turn save a lot of money.

Remember: Christmas is about enjoying time with the family. Getting organised early and putting less pressure on your credit card means you’ll be more relaxed and ready to have fun when the big day rolls around!

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