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Plan a stress-free Christmas - Family Budgeting Services

4 December 2013

Plan a stress-free Christmas

Christmas is stress-free in the Fox household. The food is organised, the presents are under the tree, the family are about to descend.

“I know that organising the household finances is the key to having a stress-free Christmas,” says Raewyn Fox, “because I’ve seen this with clients for years.”

Raewyn Fox is the CEO of the New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services, a network of over 160 organisations offering budgeting advice to around 55,000 families every year.

“The advice we give our clients is the same advice I take, to make sure my Christmas won’t be a financial strain: planning,” Fox explains.

“No matter how much – or little – you’re earning, you can plan ahead. Personally, I put a little bit aside from about February each year. I’ve budgeted for presents for my kids and their families, enough food to feed everyone for a couple of days while they visit, and a few takeaways with my husband over the holiday period. I’ve allowed extra petrol money for travelling around, and a little bit of spare money for things that come up on the spur of the moment.

Because I put a little aside from early in the year, this isn’t a problem,” Fox says.

However, not everyone has any money left over at the end of the week, to put some aside.

In those situations, Fox says you can adjust your plans accordingly. “Some of our clients have virtually no money available at Christmas. This just means that Christmas needs to be a low-key affair, with fun that doesn’t cost money,” Fox says. Low-cost fun might include spending time with your family at the park, playing cricket or frisbee. A lunch outside in the sunshine can seem like a novel treat, but could be pretty much the same thing you would have had anyway. “I know of lots of budgeting clients who get creative for presents, and spend time making home-made gifts. These can be very good for the budget, but also produce something that people recognise was made with love and care,” Fox says.

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“I also know some excellent bargain hunters who make a little bit of money go a long way!”

Bargain hunters will profit by thinking about gifts earlier in the year. This lets them take advantage of specials and sales, but also spreads the cost of Christmas.

“We suggest people are very cautious of Christmas hampers,” Fox says. “In our experience the most cost effective Christmas clubs are directly through the supermarkets, and payments can be made when you can afford it.

Budgeting advice is offered free through the New Zealand Federation of Family Budgeting Services, with over 160 locations throughout the country. You can find your nearest budgeting service by visiting www.familybudgeting.org.nz or calling 0508 BUDGETLINE (283 438).

ENDS

About the NZFFBS Inc:

The NZFFBS Inc is a collective of community organisations that share a common code of ethics, philosophy, and commitment to delivering quality, free budgeting advice to families/whanau and individuals. The current membership comprises 160 budget services throughout New Zealand that employ over 1700 predominantly volunteer staff, who worked with over 55,000 clients last year. For free budgeting advice call 0508 BUDGETLINE (283 438).

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