Ho, ho, ho, but oh no budget. 'Tis the season of financial, food and festive indulgence. If your wallet is feeling the pinch, or you simply want to avoid excessive spending, then try and trim the spending at Christmas.
The list of what to trim is long, but most of us have way too much fat in the food bill, presents, holiday costs, Christmas party expenses and so on. Less is more. A well-planned holiday season with targeted spending is less stress stressful and more enjoyable.
On the food front, the best way to approach "trimming" your bill is to try to make the food go further, says Jenny Marshall at the Love Food Hate Waste campaign. Don't go without your favourite foods. Instead, for example, don't carve up all the turkey and put it on the table. Plate the meat and cook more vegetables, which are cheaper.
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This doesn't mean letting your guests go hungry, but you can still squirrel enough turkey into the fridge for another meal. Even the bones from that can be boiled up and the meaty stock frozen for a third meal, says Marshall.
Growing up, Marshall's family looked forward to their turkey cranberry pizza meal on Boxing Day. Tradition is what's remembered from Christmas.
Keep the salads or other foods that don't last, small. How often is half the salad left over at the end of Christmas lunch? While you're at it don't feel obliged to include every trimming known to man.
I for one used to cook the Christmas turkey for lunch and follow up with fancy ham for dinner because that's what I grew up with. I don't even like ham and have learned over the years that no one notices the absence of dead pig in the way they might presents.
On the present front, make a list so you're not emptying your wallet into the landfill. Our planet doesn't need it, and some people, me included, feel awkward or overwhelmed when given unwanted gifts or naff plastic.
Make sure you re-gift from around your home first before heading out shopping. If you can, hold a secret Santa of home-made gifts. It's fun and the sort of "tradition" that builds memories. This year I hope to make a DIY Christmas tree with materials from the beach or local community recycling centre as much for the creativity as saving money and killing trees.
You can even trim the wrapping paper from your Christmas spend in these zero waste days. It often has a very thin plastic coating, which means it's not recyclable. Newspapers, reused boxes and off cuts of reused fabric tied with ribbons or string are becoming the done thing in certain circles.
Mark Patton, financial adviser at Stuart + Carlyon, has done the maths on cutting back Christmas spending by $200/$500 each year and investing that money in KiwiSaver instead. A 30-year-old who invests that $200 a year into KiwiSaver would have roughly $14,000 more at retirement; and for $500 a year, $35,000 more. A 40-year-old would have boosted their KiwiSaver pot by $8300 and $20,700 respectively come retirement.
"In fact, why not give an investment, like a contribution to your family member's KiwiSaver," says Patton. "[It's] a gift that becomes more valuable over time."
If you really do want to trim your Christmas/holiday spending, the top two tools are that budget and spending lists, which detail absolutely everything.
Rosalie Grant, financial mentor at the Nelson Budget Service, says if you want to be more in control next year starting saving $10 or $20 a week from now. That will add up to $500 or $1000, which is a good dollar figure to base next year's budget on.
Grant says don't forget to include in your budget other seasonal spending such as swimming togs for the children and other incidentals such as your annual trip to the berry farm if you have one.