Best Christmas budget hacks for 2020 including 18 Money Saving tips!

Christmas, Gifts, Money saving -

Best Christmas budget hacks for 2020 including 18 Money Saving tips!

Christmas. It’s the silly season. A time of joy. A special celebration of the things we love… like dad’s jokes. ‘I tried wrapping Christmas presents, but I didn't have the gift.’ - classic!

It can also be a little stressful. Particularly on the finances. Between friends, family and work colleagues, the joy can be zapped right out of what is meant to be the happiest time of the year and your bank account.

But Christmas shopping doesn’t have to be a bank-buster, and there are plenty of ways to avoid maxing out the credit card. Whether it’s cutting back on holiday expenses, shaving a few bucks here and there or even culling them entirely. Christmas should be about spending time with loved ones; not necessary spending money on them... 

Which is why we put together our best Christmas budget hacks for 2020. The tips and tricks that’ll help you spread the Christmas cheer, without having to break the bank.


According to Statista, in 2018 Australians spent on average $464 on Christmas presents, $444 on Christmas travel, $253 on food and alcohol, and $163 on other things like decorations, charity donations and hampers.

This graphic shows, on average, how much we spend on Christmas per person in Australia as of 2018, broken down by type. Source: statista


  • Make a list and check it twice
  • The shops are designed to get you to impulse buy. And impulse buying is bad enough at the best of times. So to avoid blowing your budget on stocking fillers you don’t need; make a shopping list, hunt around for ideas online - like these Christmas gifts for under $20 - and stick to it. 

  • Set a budget
  • It’s easy to let our emotions get the better of us, particularly at such a joyful time of year. “Am I spending enough on this person. Perhaps little Johnny won’t like those books. Maybe I’ll get him a toy, too.” We’ve all been there. But let’s face it, you don’t need to spend the same amount of everyone. Spending $50 on your partner doesn’t mean you have to spend $50 on a cousin who’s coming to Christmas lunch for the first time in 5 years… There are plenty of awesome gifts for under $20 when you hunt around. Make a list, set a budget, tally your total estimated spend and cull if you need to. 

  • Look for bargains online
  • Shopping around for awesome gift ideas online sure beats braving the crowds at the shopping centre. Who wants to bother with battling for a park, lugging the family around to shops just to browse for ideas that fit within your budget. Why not shop around online to get ideas? Better still, hunt around for bargains online and save yourself the hassle of going to the shops at all. You’ll often find online stores offering free delivery, a discounted price, or exclusive members-only pricing for things like signing up to their newsletter.

  • Avoid using the credit card.
  • The trick here is to budget for what you can afford. Budget using the $$ sitting in your bank account, not on your credit card. Use Paypal or something similar to make online purchases - this will avoid you being tempted to overspend - or cold hard cash if you’re shopping in-store. Either way, do everything you can to avoid using your credit card for Christmas shopping so you don’t end up paying interest on top of what is already a costly exercise.

  • Shop alone
  • Shopping with friends and family can be fun, but it can also be expensive. Sometimes it helps to get some fresh ideas. But it’s all too easy for someone else to spend your money, particularly in-store when impulse buys becomes all too tempting.

  • Avoid buying gifts for yourself
  • It’s pretty common that you’ll find something you like when you’re shopping for gifts for your loved ones. Here’s a tip; if you find something you just can’t live without, add it to a wishlist rather than putting it into your shopping cart. And if you’re good, Santa might bring it to you. And if he doesn’t, you can always buy it after Christmas when it’s on sale.

  • Shop the sales
  • Discount stores are great for picking up a bargain, particularly on items that don’t need to be a brand name. Usually, things like decorations, water balloons, party poppers, wrapping paper can be bought super cheap at a discount store… and if you time it when they are running a sale, you’ll save heaps and your budget will thank you.

  • Buy kids more, for less!
  • Kids get given HEAPS presents, yet they only play with one at a time and they go through fads like they change their nappies, so don’t feel like you need to splurge on big-dollar gifts. Most kids 2 and under have more fun with a cardboard box than its contents. And if you want to buy something cool, aim for something big, bright and colourful that they can have lots of fun with, not the latest iPhone or iPad that they’ll probably break anyway.

    Better still, why not make it MORE exciting for them by buying them more gifts, without going over budget. How? Buy each kid something they - want - need - wear - read - and wrap them individually. That way they get four times the excitement of opening a new gift, and each one is different. If you know they’re into something, theme gifts so they are all of the same superhero, or all of their favourite animal.

  • Combined gifts
  • If you’re buying for a couple, siblings, group or family, consider pooling your budget for the individuals and opting for one bigger gift that they can all share. Like a pool, video games or a swing set for kids. Tickets to the zoo, a show or framed family photos for parents. Or a weekend away, an experience or movie passes for a couple.

  • Organise Secret Santa
  • Secret Santa is a great way to save a few bucks if you’ve got a big family or group celebrating Christmas with you. Members of a group draw random names from a hat to become someone’s Secret Santa usually in November. The basic idea is to exchange gifts within the group without having to spend a fortune buying for each person individually.

    You make a list of everyone who wants to participate and put their names in a hat. Everyone then draws out a name and it is their responsibility to buy a present for that person. The whole point is that it is anonymous, so you won’t know who bought your gift, but you get joy from seeing your recipient open yours.

  • Shop at Op Shops
  • Op shops (or thrift shops) are a great way to get a better gift for less. Most of the time you’ll be buying something second hand, but on the odd occasion, you might even find something brand new or unused still in its original packaging. The great thing about op shops (apart from the price) is that the proceeds usually go to charity.variety of what’s available. You may be able to pick up antique furniture, kids toy, a TV or a new dress for less than a quarter of the price of new. Better still, if you’re organising the family secret santa, you can use the ‘op shop theme’ to stretch your dollars further and help a great cause.

  • Gift a goat, chicken or clean water
  • Really stumped for a gift idea? Why not give them the gift of a donation of a goat to a family in need or a vaccine to a child in need? It’s not only a great cause, but a great way to keep your budget in check and do a little more than buying another silly pair of socks, particularly for those people who already have everything.

  • Save on gift wrapping
  • Gift bags, fancy wrapping paper, ribbons and bows all add up pretty quickly. Which is why a handy tip to get the budget in check is to shop at a discount shop for cheap wrapping paper and decorations. Because let’s face it, it’s going to get torn apart anyway.

    Another idea is to save good paper from the year before and reuse it. Or save cartoons, cars, fashion or travel photos from the weekend newspaper to use as gift wrapping.



    1. Once the kids have gone to sleep, leave clues to make it look like Father Christmas has been, like leaving a huge boot-print in flour or soil, or by hiding a sleigh bell and half-munched carrot in the garden.
    2. Give back with a 'reverse Advent calendar' where your child helps you put food aside in a box to be given away to those in need.
    3. Spot Santa's sleigh whizz through the stars – Log on to ort ReindeerCam.
    4. Go to a traditional candlelit carol concert (even if you’re not religious).
    5. Make a special decoration each year themed by something you achieved that year.