How to organise Christmas on a budget

Jessica Satherley
How to organise Christmas on a budget
Putting a limit on Christmas gift spending can help while budgeting

“Is the thought of giving more valuable to you - or the amount of giving?” asks budgeting expert Dr Pushpa Wood, Director of Westpac-Massey Fin-Ed Centre. 

Creative thinking in the run-up to Christmas can mean the thought of giving doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. 

REDnews has explored ways to keep the spirit of Christmas, but also keep a cost-effective budget. 


How to save on Christmas food bills 

Christmas food bills can rack up when family is gathered over the holidays, but there are a few ways to save. 

Supermarket Christmas funds are one way to spread the cost of the festive fare throughout the year. 

All the major supermarket chains in New Zealand offer their own version of a ‘Christmas Club’, whereby you can make an approximate 5% return on your investment when spending your vouchers/Christmas card bought prior to December 1 in December and January. 

Money can be voluntarily added to the fund at any time during the year and bonuses are received for redeeming the supermarket vouchers over the Christmas period in December and January. 

There are of course some risks to be aware of, as some do not allow vouchers to be redeemed through online shopping and if your Christmas Club card is not used at least once every two years it might be deactivated, and funds made unavailable. 

Each supermarket chain has its terms and conditions on their individual websites. 

Putting money aside during the year for Christmas can also be achieved with your bank account though. 

“You can do the same thing with your bank and earn interest,” Dr Wood says. 

“Supermarket Christmas funds can limit your choices of where to shop and when to buy the food to get the offered interest.” 

Dr Wood suggests also looking into doing potluck Christmas meals, to save money and stress. 

“That way everybody brings a range of dishes and you still celebrate together,” she says. 


How to save on Christmas presents 

"What is driving the decision for each gift?” Dr Wood asks.   

“Do you want the recipient to feel they are well thought of?  If so, you could make something like knitting or baking a gift.   

"You can give a token gift for the cultural aspect of Christmas, but you don’t have to spend that much.  

“Or you could put the money towards an education fund for a child in your life, which is more valuable in the long run,” she says. 

Dr Wood also recommends setting a limit on presents, for example no more than $20 on each person. 

“Try to set a lower limit which enforces creative thinking. 

"Try not to create the demand and expectation of expensive gifts in your family,” she says. 

Another way to save on gifts is by making the most of the pre-Christmas sales.  

Days such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday could save you up to 50% on branded items. 

Although retailers usually use the American-inspired event to sell off unwanted inventory, it’s a great occasion to find bargain presents in the lead up to Christmas. 

Black Friday falls on November 29 and Cyber Monday, for online shopping sales, is December 2. 

New Zealanders spent $442 million over Black Friday weekend last year, which was an 85% increase from the previous year, The NZ Herald reported. 

Singles Day on November 11 has also morphed into one of New Zealand’s biggest discounted shopping occasions. 

Singles Day, otherwise known as 11.11, originated in China as a day to oppose Valentine’s Day but quickly turned into a shopping phenomenon where retailers discount the latest technology, e-commerce and bricks and mortar stores. 


How to save on Christmas travel 

"The highest peaks in the number of New Zealand residents temporarily overseas coincide with school holiday, Christmas and Easter periods,” according to Stats NZ data

Kiwis are traveling both nationwide and overseas during the Christmas period and flight prices exponentially increase as the time nears closer to the holiday period. 

“To get the best deal on flights, planning at least eight to 10 months in advance is advised,” travel expert Nicole Knapp says. 

“The competitive nature of airlines is benefiting the consumers with great flight prices these days, and direct flights keep opening from New Zealand,” Manager of Retail and Development at World Travellers, Nicole Knapp, said. 

If you’re able to be flexible with your dates of travel that can also be a cost-saver when looking for the best deal. 

Flying on Christmas Day or New Year’s Eve can also be cheaper, as the demand for those dates are low. 

Some flight booking websites also allow you to set up price alerts to get messaged the best deal on flights that you’re interested in. 


Related Links: 

How to find the best value vacation from New Zealand 

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