There was a survey on Christmas spending published a few years back, which found that Australians spent around $1000 each on Christmas, and $475 each on gifts. The question of how much is appropriate to spend on your kids is a matter of personal choice. There are surveys saying we spend around $150 on each child and others that say the figure is closer to $300.
It hardly matters – there are wealthy people who are frugal with gifts to children and there are modest families where Christmas giving is a big thing. Families fall at all points of the spectrum. What matters is that Christmas is a time of enjoyment, not a time for going broke because you’re spending too much.
Here are my tips for families to get Christmas spending right:
- Budget: try to make a plan for how much you’re going to spend, and build a budget around the plan. The sooner you make a budget, the better, because it allows you to save some cash. But even starting a budget right now is better than just winging it.
- Party: like it or not, it’s the mums who inevitably run the Christmas dinners, lunches and parties and they can be expensive. If the extended family is coming, mums will benefit from lots of planning and a budget – some things will also be cheaper to buy mid-year than a few days before Christmas.
- Good habits: share your planning with your kids, tell them how you’re buying your gifts within certain price ranges so you can stay within budget. This is a really practical way to teach children the value of money and the benefits of planning.
- Gifting: Christmas is a busy, expensive and stressful time for many mums, but it’s also a special time of giving and sharing. Making your kids buy gifts for one another (and their grandparents, cousins etc.), and giving them budgets to stay within, makes them focus on giving rather than getting.
- Cash: vow now to stick with cash for Christmas. It makes the New Year so much easier.
- Advice: if you’re in trouble financially, don’t be afraid to reach out and take advice where it’s offered. Many reputable organisations offer financial advice around the Christmas period.
As a final thought, try to make Christmas an enjoyable time of year rather than the prelude to financial stress in the New Year. Make a plan, have a budget and try to do your spending in cash, not on credit.