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Christmas shopping | 75 smart budgeting tips for Christmas

by Penina

In terms of Christmas shopping effectively it is worth thinking outside the square and having a good think about how you get a lot for little. Since Christmas is such a sharing and caring time of year, it is worth getting mates to help out, asking people what you want, and finding tactics for avoiding gift-buying and shopping altogether. This doesn’t mean you have to kill off the Christmas spirit. No, that’s no fun. Instead get sneaky, savvy and super-strategic with it.

Use your mates for rates when Christmas shopping

Mates are good for many things. You could have a drink with a mate and work out all the problems of the world. For the price of a slab of beer or bottle of wine, mates are the cheapest therapy around. Sit in the shed and figure out how to make your business better. Brainstorm about fantastic ideas. Paint a room in your respective houses and watch your properties go up in value.
So when it comes to Christmas do the same! Take a good look around your mates and figure out who works where and see if you can use your mates rates. I’m thinking of a girls day out with my friend who gets a discount at Coles. Coffee? You can also join forces with people and buy in bulk. Find people in your neighbourhood on Facebook or places like Meetup and get purchasing in bulk. Many companies are willing to give discounts to larger groups.

Ask around and save on presents

Write up your Christmas shopping list and then spend the time asking people what they want for Christmas. There is no point in buying a useless gift. This is a big time and money waster. Unless you plan on buying cheap token gifts for everyone, it is worth being a bit of a nag so that your hard-earned and precious money doesn’t get ripped up and flushed out of your life.
You could also avoid buying gifts altogether. People get away with this every year. Some people avoid Christmas altogether by booking a holiday to Fiji! This way they avoid buying gifts. They also don’t receive any – but hey! Money is saved and that trip to Fiji may have been spent on gifts! So Fiji is a bit of a win-win for those traveling!
Alternatively, only buy for those people who will be at your Christmas shin-dig. You could go with the rule that if you are not going to see people, they are not going to see a gift from you. Send a lovely card before Christmas day and leave it at that!

Pick your Xmas parties

There are so many parties to go to at Christmas and while they are all fun, try to avoid going to all of them. Pick the best ones and then limit the amount spent on each party.
Book out time in your calendar so that when people call you, you can look at your calendar and sound truthful about the fact that you are booked! Fake events if you have to. Being ‘double-booked’ just makes you sound super popular anyway.
If you want more fab tips on how to budget at Christmas, check out this cheeky cheat sheet on how to get more cash in your stash. Keep this list handy when budgeting for Christmas or read it before venturing out to do your big Christmas shop.

Here’s my big money-saving list

75 hot budgeting tips for Christmas

Ask mates for rates

If you have friends that work in retail use their discount privileges.

Ask what people want

Ask what people want so you don’t waste your money and they are happy.

Avoid buying gifts

If you will not see friends or family at Xmas hold off on buying presents. Send cards.

Avoid parties

Avoid going to too many Christmas parties. Tell people you are double booked.

Avoid shopping

Avoid large shopping centres if possible. Shop at markets and online.

Be strong

Be strong. Be tough. If you can’t afford it, you shouldn’t buy it.

Budget, budget, budget

Make a budget and make sure you stick to it.

Buffer your budget

There are always unexpected gifts and events. Add a buffer to your budget.

Buy discount online

Compare prices and shop online for more expensive items like perfume.

Buy gift cards

You will never get the gift wrong and your recipient can catch Boxing Day sales!

Buy gifts on sale

Buy gifts throughout the year on sale. Stick to your budget.

Buy group gifts

Buy a group gift for work colleagues. E.g. Buy a box of chocolates or bake iced biscuits.

Buy tinsel second hand

You can find boxes of tinsel at second hand shops. Put tinsel on everything!

Buy second hand

There are often brand new toys, games and clothes in Op shops.

Cheap Xmas trees

Buy Xmas trees at markets at closing time or cheap ones at op shops.

Check our resources

Check out all the resources in Printables to help with Christmas.

Christmas Eve

Shop on Christmas Eve for cards and non-perishables for next Christmas.

Christmas is one day

Remember that Christmas is just one day. It goes fast. The debt lasts a lot longer.

Cull your list

Stick to only spending on close family and friends. Cull your Christmas list.

Dedicate a cupboard

Dedicate a cupboard in the house for wrapping presents you buy through the year.

Dedicate time

Block out dedicated time for shopping and set a time frame.

Do not deviate

Deviating from your budget plan will cost money (unless you find cheaper items!)

Do not do top-ups

Closer to Christmas do not top up on presents. You will go over budget.

Do not use credit

Never use credit at Christmas. Do not start the New Year off in debt.

Do shopping in one day

Avoid the shops. Go out on one day with a shopping list. Purchase all presents.

Express your budget

Declare you budget. Tell friends and relatives you are on a budget.

Free shipping

Shop online at sites offering free shipping. Watch shipping is not hidden in the cost.

Get coupon happy

Buy coupons online to reduce spend on gifts. (See website section.)

Get ideas from friends

If you found a great gift or bargain for Christmas share it in the Savings Room.

Get quirky with it

Shop at garage sales and thrift shops for quirky and interesting items.

Get the present right

Ask your in-laws and parents to buy things the kids need and want.

Grab budgeting apps

Download Xmas budgeting apps to track your Christmas spend.

Hold a garage sale

Hold a garage sale to help increase your Christmas budget.

If your budget is small

If you can only spare $200 for Christmas that is your budget. Accept it. Work with it.

Keep track

By shopping on one day it will be easier to keep receipts and track spend.

Increase your budget

Sell stuff in our classifieds to make room for new presents and to increase your budget.

Keep all receipts

Keep all receipts for tracking your budget later if you don’t get to it while shopping.

Keep receipts

Keep all your receipts in one place. Someone might want to return the gift.

Keep shopping

Shop straight after Christmas for next Christmas if your budget allows.

Kris Kringles

Do a Kris Kringle. Get organised early. Call people to let them know the plan.

Lay-buy it

Do lay-buys for Christmas to spread your spend over the year.

Map bargains store

Be sure to map and look for bargain stores near you.

Milk your papers

Clip coupons from weekend papers all month. There are plenty of them in December.

More trips, less savings

More trips equals more spend on donuts and coffee! Factor in these extra costs.

Never wander around

Never wander around shops at Christmas aimlessly. You will overspend.

Online shopping

Make shopping online one of your designated shopping sessions.

Outlet stores

Shop at clothing outlet stores to pick up cheap bargains.

Photograph ideas

Photograph items in store of good ideas. Share them on the Savings Room Facebook page!

Post parcels in bulk

Send several presents to the one address for one relative to distribute to all the others.


Take photos of receipts to track your spend and then throw the receipt away.

Reduce your budget

After deciding on your budget reduce it by 20 percent.


Research ahead of time, compare prices, and make solid purchasing decisions.

Santa is poor this year

Explain to the kids that Santa has hit hard times so they understand more frugal gifts.

Save on branded goods

Hop online for luxury and branded goods for less.

Save on postage

For overseas guests buy gifts online in their hometowns to save on postage.

Set a present quota

Make a deal that everyone is only allowed to spend ten dollars on each other.

Shop at home first

Look around your house for new and suitable items you have never used!

Shop in spring

To spread out the cost of Christmas start buying items slowly from spring onwards.

Shop on Xmas Eve

Catch sales the week or day before Christmas day. It is much cheaper.

Shop on your porch

Gather junk mail. Cut and paste ideas into a scrapbook. Then go in for the kill.

Shop online

Buy all gifts at the same store online to save on postage and to get cash backs.

Spread shopping costs

Buy a present every month until you have all the gifts for next Christmas.

Start a Christmas fund

Set up a Christmas fund this week for next year. Put $15 away each week.

Stick to your guns

Don’t get dazzled by sales or marketing tactics. Stick to your list.

Swap to a Debit card

Swap your credit card for a debit card before Xmas to avoid overspending.

Talk to the kids

Set a limit on spending and sit down and explain your budget to the kids.

They will still love you

Don’t try to impress people. Your friends and family will love you anyway.

Tiny budgets

If your budget is only $200 shop at thrift stores and revamp old goods. Eat simply.

Track It

If you prefer paper keep a little notebook with you at all times to track your expenses.

Try not to gift yourself!

Shop online to avoid buying things for yourself. I admit I’m a sucker for this.

Use our planners

Use our Christmas Shopping Planner in Printables. Organisation equals savings!

Use the Savings Room

Use your networks for super fast and instant Christmas shopping tips.

Watch out for $2 stores

Many two-dollar stores are selling items for much more than two dollars these days.

Work out extra money

Work out where the extra money for Xmas is coming from if you don’t have savings.

Write budget early

Create your Christmas shopping budget early in the New Year for next year.

Your time is money

Place value on your time. Do not travel 3km by car to save two dollars.

Want more fab ideas on Christmas shopping and saving at Xmas?

Read more and access all these great cheat sheets!

  • 50 things to do in your community this Christmas
  • 50 things to do indoors this Christmas
  • 20+ wicked ways to save on wrapping
  • 20+ things to do in the garden this Christmas
  • 30 totally FREE gift ideas for Christmas
  • 40 cheap and happy eco-friendly gifts
  • 25 cool ways to save on cards
  • 45 things to do in your region this Christmas
  • 30+ devious ways to save on Christmas decorations
  • 130 little adventures in the garden for kids
  • 45 savvy ways to save on groceries this Christmas
  • 75+ awesome ways to save on alcohol
  • 50 simple ways to use up leftover Christmas ham
  • 75 smart shopping and budgeting tips for Christmas
  • 340+ brilliant budget gift ideas

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