COH-easier-xmas

By planning ahead, you'll be able to relax over the holidays rather than teetering under the pressure

Joy bells may ring out from the speakers, but many of us experience stress during the Christmas period. According to Relationships Australia, 93.5% of people celebrate Christmas. And more than 30% experience high levels of stress and anxiety1.

Family and financial pressures

Many people report family relationships as highly stressed due to financial worries and work-life balance factors, while the pressures of buying gifts and entertainingalso add to the strain. With food and presents being the main expenses, 25% of people worry about covering the costs3.

Four tips for easing into Christmas

While for many families Christmas is a time of giving, it’s important not to give to others at the expense of your own peace of mind. But it’s true that finding the balance can be challenging.

Whether you’re involved in family celebrations or gatherings with friends or colleagues, use our tips to find the right balance for you:

1. Make plans with a birds-eye view

Before all is said and done, create a timeline so you don’t end up doing your shopping or entertaining all at once. Writing down commitments or objectives can go a long way towards relieving the overwhelming feeling that Christmas can bring. Start with a list of bullet points and expand your plan to include dates and action items.

If you feel pressured by family arrangements, visualise the things you’d like to be doing and aim to find a way to achieve them. Sometimes a tactful conversation with family members can help more than you might think.

2. Work out where your Christmas spending money will come from

It’s important to live within your means at Christmas time, even if the lure of giving or family expectations urge you to spend.

3. Be a calculated shopper so you’re not tempted to overspend

Once you’ve decided how much you can afford to spend, avoid impulse buying by being financially organised.

  • Set a budget and stick to it.
  • Make a Christmas gift list and include a budget for each person you’ll buy a present for. Keep it handy for next year to save yourself time—you can always tweak it if you need to.
  • When it comes to shopping for food, be sure to find the cheapest prices in the supermarket. You could save more than you think.
  • Shop online before buying and compare prices—the earlier you plan ahead the more time you’ll have for things to arrive by post. You’ll keep your stress levels down by avoiding crowded shopping zones too.
  • Don’t shop with your credit card unless you can pay the balance in full within the interest-free period—20% of Australians paid for Christmas presents with a credit card4 and the average amount owing after festivities is $1,668 per card5.

4. Get creative and have fun in the process!

Can you make gifts and decorations this year? You may decide to make homemade food or other things to give away. Maybe your family members would like to be involved. Can you start a new tradition and have a Christmas making day and spend creative time together?

Enjoy a restful break

In the lead up to Christmas you still have time to get organised and make the most of any time off you have. Use our tips to start planning now so you can keep your costs down, enjoy yourself and welcome in a happy and prosperous 2017!

1, 2 Relationships Australia, December 2015: Christmas stress
3 Survey results reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, One-quarter of people fret about festive season expenses
4 ASIC’s Money Smart, Australia's Christmas spending
5 Finder.com.au: How Aussies can repay their $286 million credit card interest Christmas debt with a balance transfer