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As the countdown to Christmas ramps up, many of us are consumed with the pleasure and pain of shopping, putting together festive menus, and organising seasonal makeovers for our homes, before we entertain family and friends.

Here are some tips to help you to enjoy the festive season without breaking the bank.

Set a realistic budget

It’s easy to get carried away with impulse buys and overspending is an easy trap to fall into, so it’s important to have a Christmas budget. If you haven’t set one you could fall into the trap of overspending, and then end up starting your new year in debt.

Include gifts, cards, wrapping, food, entertainment, decorations and any travel or accommodation expenses. It might surprise you how quickly everything begins to add up, so this is an opportunity to cut back if you need to and know your spending limits.

If you find it difficult to stick to a budget, there are plenty of apps available to help you. If you’re not an app user, a good old spreadsheet will also help.

Plan your gifts

The worst thing you can do for your budget is hit the shops without a list. Write down all the family and friends you want to buy for along with specific gift ideas. This will give you an indication of your overall spending for presents under the tree.

For those on a tight budget, consider a Secret Santa approach on Christmas Day. This will give family members a set budget and take the pressure off your bank account as you’ll have less gifts to buy.

Other options include making homemade gifts, only buying presents for the kids in your life, or even regifting presents you may have unopened in a cupboard.

Shop around for the best price

If you consider yourself to be a savvy shopper, now is the time to put your skills to the test. Christmas is the biggest time of year for retailers, so make sure you shop around for the best price before swiping or tapping your card, or shopping online. And, pay attention to delivery fees too - these can quickly add up.

As the expenses keep rolling in, you may be tempted to put purchases on Afterpay, Zip Pay or a credit card. While these can all be really helpful if you have a plan for managing the repayments, make sure you aren’t spending more than you can afford and blowing your budget. Remember to read all the terms and conditions associated with your payment plans to ensure you fully understand your financial commitment.

Banking and Credit products issued by Police & Nurses Limited (P&N Bank) ABN 69 087 651 876 AFSL/Australian Credit Licence 240701. Any advice does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Read the relevant T&Cs, before downloading apps or acquiring any product, in considering and deciding whether it is right for you. The Target Market Determinations (TMDs) are available.