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Whether you’re a single person or a family, Christmas in the Philippines is a time for celebration. As costs increase and our tastes become more expensive, it can also be a difficult time of year for those without a great deal of disposable income or savings. As we enter the final 3 months of 2019, its time to start preparing for the festive season. This is Asteria’s guide to budgeting for Christmas.

Start earlier than you think you need to

It’s never too early to start putting money aside for presents and other seasonal expenses. In the Philippines, lenders are usually quite flexible when it comes to the reasons they will accept for an application, providing you can demonstrate that you are able to afford the repayments. Moving money from savings accounts or even open a dedicated “Christmas Fund” can be a good idea. Many banking apps now feature a “wallet” functionality, allow you to designate funds to a sub section of your account. If you start putting away a small amount every week in September, you will have saved a considerable chunk of change by the time Christmas rolls around. You can pick up bargains by shopping for presents out of season, too. Sales and clearance items are often a great find, so remember to look for winter coats in the warmer months and save your sandpit shopping until well after summer has ended.

Set limits and stick to them

This is one golden role that so many couples and family’s break. Especially when they’re locked into a tradition of buying expensive gifts. To keep things fair and to avoid the inevitable regret of overspending, set specific price limits on gifts. Younger children may find this difficult to understand but it can be a good precedent to set if you’re conscious of going overboard on the treats. The amount you set will depend on your disposable income, though some families to allow themselves to take out a small personal loan around this time of year if they are struggling to find the funds themselves. Just like gift giving, setting a conservative and realistic limit to the amount you ask for is always advised.

Payday Loans and Christmas Bonuses

As most people know, payday loans are generally designed to be used as a short-term way of covering expenses, rather than as an alternative to credit. They can prove to be useful at Christmas time, though, allowing you to effectively take your bonus a little early. Providing you know how much you are due to be paid on top of your normal salary, a payday loan at Christmas can be a way of ensuring you can get everything you need for the festivities.

Compare Your Spending Each Year

After the celebrations are over, take the time to record how much you spent on Christmas, both in total and the individual elements. Look at how much you are spending on food, drink, gifts, decorations and practical considerations such as heating, electricity and fuel. Doing this will allow you to identify any areas of concern. With food shopping, for example, it’s easy to overspend by panic buying or succumbing to impulse offers in supermarkets. Similarly, saying yes to one too many evenings out with colleagues and friends can end up costing you a lot more than you might have planned for. Setting limits based on previous years budgets will allow you to feel more confident about enjoy the holidays and though it can feel like a chore, you will thank yourself for it in the end.

Allow for overspending

This statement may well confuse some people but hear us out. If you know that you have a habit of spending a little more than you need to, try and provide yourself with a “buffer” amount that won’t cause you too many problems if you dip into it. This could be in the form of an overdraft, a small personal loan or a credit card. Providing you have made plans to cover any repayment costs without negatively effecting your day to day life, this is a perfectly reasonable way to approach Christmas budgeting in the Philippines. The best part about this approach is that if you don’t end up using your allocated “overspending” amount, this can be used for other things such as savings or even next year’s Christmas.

Christmas Travel to and from the Philippines

Airlines often charge a premium price during times they know people are likely to want to travel. Unfortunately, this is just the way modern business works now, but with careful budgeting and planning, you can avoid spending more than you need to. Pay for travel tickets well in advance and advise any family members or friends to do the same. Consider avoiding days such as Christmas eve and boxing day if this is at all possible as you can expect delays, premium pricing and a stressful experience.

Focus on gifts for younger people first

As we get older, we begin to understand that Christmas is about spending time with your loved ones, rather than being showered with presents, but for children, it can be one of the most exciting times of the year. If you are struggling with money, it makes sense to focus on buying gifts for the youngest members of your family first. Though its never recommended you spoil your children by giving them everything they want, being able to give them a little joy at this time of year is a far better gift than anything you can buy in a shop or online store.

Reuse, recycle and donate

There’s no need to buy new decorations every year and second-hand presents can give people just as much joy as something that’s brand new. As part of your budgeting exercise, look at areas where you can cut back on spending by replacing premium products with cheaper alternatives.

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