Can you believe it?  Christmas time is creeping up!  I was stunned when on a trip to my local Woolies, my daughter picked up pink tinsel and put it in the trolley.  Really?  Christmas stuff already?   After a bit of debate, mainly consisting of me saying the words “put it back”, she insisted it was on my shopping list.  I told her that despite wearing glasses, I was sure I could see the list clearly and that I was sure that pink tinsel was not on the list.  Oats, yes, milk, yes, eggs, yes and even bread but pink tinsel, no it was definitely not there.  Welcome to Christmas!

This unexpected run-in with Christmas made me realise it really isn’t that far away, so I had better get organised.  A Peppa Pig play house is the main request in our household.  They are not particularly cheap so here are some ideas on how to stretch Santa’s toy budget further….

  1. Draw up a budget and stick to it!  It is hard to resist the temptation to overspend when it comes to your children and it is even harder at Christmas time.  The best way to avoid a big Christmas financial hangover is to figure out what you can afford to spend and stick to it.  I note good ideas for gifts as they come up so that I am not struggling for ideas right before Christmas and end up spending too much money.
  2. Stock up in the toy sales throughout the year.  Make sure you are on the email list for all your favourite stores so that you don’t miss a sale.  I have done an epic fail on this one so far but it is something I will be keeping in mind for next year!
  3. Buy overseas.  The Australian dollar is holding strong against many other currencies such as the US dollar and the British Pound, making it cheaper to buy toys overseas.  Check out the overseas prices before making your purchases, just remember to include the shipping costs.  Many people focus on buying from the US but don’t forget the United Kingdom (UK), they have great websites that often ship to Australia for free.
  4. Use Frequent Flyer points to purchase gift cards.  Nowadays you don’t even have to put your bum on an airline seat to get frequent flyers.  You can get them all over the place; using your credit card, shopping at the supermarket, getting certain brands of insurance and paying your mobile phone bill.  Now I am not saying you should change your shopping habits or buy unnecessary things to get points, but if you do have them maybe you should look into using them to help fund your Christmas toy purchases.  We quite often convert our points into gift cards, which gives us a bit of choice as to how we spend them.  However, according to the frequent flyer gurus, this is not actually the most efficient way to spend your points.  But it works for us because with a 3 year old it is unlikely we are going to do an around the world trip anytime soon!  Also, according to the gurus, buying vouchers is better than buying goods directly at the frequent flyer store (Click here to learn about how to spend your points in the most efficient way)
  5. Re-gift to your own child!  I suspect that this one only works when your children are small but it is a loophole I am going to exploit while I can! :-)  Miss Money got an excessive amount of presents for her birthday, especially from her grandparents, so I have put a few aside to give to her again at Christmas time.  Cheeky, I know but for the moment it works!
  6. Check out places that you might not normally look for toys in like The Reject Shop, Daiso (where everything is $2.80) and your local $2 shop.  Miss Money’s favourite doll cost me $7 from The Reject Shop.  After 6 months of hard use the arm fell off, so I went back and brought her another one, without breaking the budget.
  7. Sell old toys to raise some cash to fund your Christmas toy purchases.  We are in the process of selling some of Miss Money’s baby toys and her pram that we no longer use.  We use the Kids Size Living Facebook page, which lets you list and trade goods in our area for free but there are many other sites that let you do the same.  It is a great way to de-clutter the house before Christmas sends more toys our way! :-)
  8. Buy second hand.  When you are listing your stuff to sell check out what others are selling – you could pick up a bargain!  We also regularly stop by our local op shop and have been surprised at what we could find.  We have picked up some toys in perfect condition at a fraction of the retail price and we have brought her a pile of books for $3 in great condition.  Not only are you saving cash, you are helping a great cause and recycling, all at the same time.
  9. Enter competitions.  I had never paid much attention to the giveaways being run by other bloggers until a couple of weeks ago when I entered a competition and won a new t-shirt for Miss Money.  It was quite a score!  Going into Christmas, I expect there will be some great giveaways happening.  Entering is usually pretty easy so it is definitely worth doing.  You have to be in it to win it as they say!  Stay tuned to my Money Mummy Facebook page as I will be putting all the good giveaways I find on there.
  10. Make presents.  If you have a crafty streak make some of the gifts yourself such as dolls clothes, bags of sweets or small activity packs.  Some of my friends do treasure hunts for small home made gifts in the backyard adding some extra fun to the process.

Christmas with children can be lots of fun but also a time of stress.  It is hard not to want to give your children everything, but deciding on an amount that you can afford to spend and sticking to it is the key to keeping your finances on track and avoiding a big New Year financial hangover.   So, get started early and think about how it is best to fund Santa’s Christmas visit to your house.

If you liked this post you might also like:

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Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.