If five golden rings and a whole menagerie of birds sounds like it might blow the budget this year, then perhaps the classic carol needs a rewrite. That’s why we’ve put together a list of hot tips to make this Christmas a breeze without scorching a hole in your hip pocket.

1. Make a list

Before you even step foot in your local shopping mall, make a comprehensive list. The list should include all the gifts you plan to buy for yourself, others, as well as all the decorations and food supplies you’ll need. The more specific you are the better.

There are apps like Giftster (free on iPhone and Android) that can help you organise your Christmas lists.

2. Check it twice and set your budget

Once the list is done check it again and cross off any unnecessary items. Then you should set a maximum cost for each item. If you’re rigorous with this, you might even find your Christmas budget comes in at a surplus.

3. Shop around

Shopping around can save a lot of money. And these days its easier than ever as you can do most of the work online. The trick is that you need to start your research early and not leave all your shopping the last minute. There’s no point buying a bunch of gifts nobody even wants in a drastic credit card frenzy.

When you know exactly what item you want, you can use Google Shopping to compare prices at different stores. If shopping online, check for promotional codes that can be used in some stores. You can even use something like Honey – a free Google Chrome extension that automatically finds promotional codes for the online stores you visit.

4. DIY

There’s nothing better than a home-made gift. It shows the receiver that you really care and they’re usually cheaper.

Making home-made gifts can also be a really great way to bond with other family members if you do it as a group. It’s what we in finance call a ‘win-win’. You can search online to get ideas for home-made gifts. Country Living has a list of 85 home-made Christmas gift ideas here.

5. Shop with purpose…

Not only do you need a list when you shop. You also need a plan. It will inevitably take you more than one trip to the shops to get everything you need, so aim to buy the big things first. This way you’ll know what you have to play around with for the smaller ticket items. Inevitably some of these may not seem quite as important once the bigger ones are accounted for.

6. Don’t shop for yourself

Easier said than done we know. But try to avoid buying a whole bunch of stuff for yourself then having nothing left for your other purchases.

7. Track your spending

Tracking your spending as you shop is vital – and these days its easier than ever. You may want to use apps like The Christmas List and Santa’s Bag, which helps budget and track your Christmas spend in real time.

8. Spread the Christmas cheer (volunteer or donate)

Remember the true spirit of Christmas by giving back to your community in some way. Either volunteer some time with a local charity or give some funds to a deserving cause. Some charities even allow you to purchase donations as gifts with cute little cards made up to explain what the money went towards.

9. Watch your Afterpay

Afterpay can be a great way to get what you want when you want it, but it’s only helpful if you are diligent with your repayments. Christmas is a period famous for people going overboard and you don’t want to end up unable to pay it back on time and having to pay hefty interest.

10. Credit card spending

The same goes for credit card spending. Where possible aim to use money you already have. Last year Aussies put $30 billion on plastic to cover their Christmas spend and 27% of them were likely to still be paying it off 12 months later. i

11. Reduce, reuse, recycle

At the end of the day we don’t need more stuff just for the sake of having it. So, when making your Christmas list, consider getting each person one meaningful item rather than ten little things that may just end up in the bin. You can also re-gift things you don’t like and recycle last year’s decorations and Christmas wrapping. It’ll save both money and the environment.

12. Be merry

Last of all don’t forget to have a good time. By planning your Christmas spend well in advance, it means you can enjoy the day that little bit more.

https://www.finder.com.au/press-release-jan-2019-christmas-debt-hangover-expected-to-hit-30-billion