Christmas is a time to be merry. But for many, it’s a time to stress out. There are presents to buy, holidays to pay for, dinners and drinks out and sometimes, work without pay.

But Christmas doesn’t have to mean we stop saving for a first home deposit, or become bogged down by mortgage repayments. Using a few simple strategies, you can feel less stressed about your finances this Christmas, and concentrate on having a good time.

Christmas financial stress

Plan ahead

Planning may seem like extra work, but doing the legwork now can take the stress out of the holiday period.

Write down your regular expenses and your extra expenses, including what you are likely to spend on presents and holidays.

Record your household income for this period. If expenses outweigh your income, prioritise your expenses. Start with essentials and work down the list. You might find you need to allocate a smaller budget to presents, holidays and other non-essentials.

Remember to cut yourself some slack if your saving goals slip during the holidays. As long as you meet your basic financial obligations, you can allow yourself some fun.

Get big expenses out of the way

If you know you are due to register your car, pay annual insurance or rates, get on top of them early, so these big expenses don’t come back to bite you during your break. Do the rest of your budget after you’ve paid for the big things.

Have a contingency plan

Always keep a bit of spare cash in your back pocket, in case you hit unexpected expenses, like a car breakdown or medical expenses. Having an emergency fund reduces the stress if you do hit a rocky patch.

Be creative

So, you might not be able to afford the Christmas holiday of your dreams, or the present your child’s been asking for all year. But that doesn’t have to put a dampener on Christmas. Be creative. Maybe you need to hand make presents this year, or up-cycle something pre-loved. Maybe your holiday is a bit closer to home, or involves staying with friends and family, rather than in an expensive hotel.

Set spending boundaries

Get to know your household budget over the Christmas period, and articulate it to others in your household. Give everyone a present-spending budget, so all family members know what to expect. This also helps to manage expectations around family holidays and other non-essential spending.

Get ahead of your stress

If you feel the financial stress creeping in, get in early. Make an appointment with your Smartline Adviser today to discuss how to manage your house repayments, or keep your first home deposit savings in check. Verbalising your stress can be half the battle. Your broker can connect you to financial services that take the weight off during stressful periods.