On the 12th week before Christmas, my True Love gave to me… a budget plan to stay debt-free…As the heat continues to rise, 2017 is fast on its way out and with less than 12 weeks until Christmas Day, you can be forgiven for wondering where exactly the last 9 months went? So, in an effort to prepare you for both a debt-free and relaxed holiday season (and as a reminder to ourselves) we thought we would share some handy tips early, to ensure that your spending stays smart and 2018 greets you with abundance!

Top Tips for Christmas Bliss:
Make a list – actually make multiple lists:
1. Presents – who do you have to buy for, what is your budget for each person, what are you thinking of for them?
2. Christmas/Boxing Day & other social visits – what events are you hosting or attending? What do you need in way of food, decorations, and drinks? What is the budget?
3. Holiday travel – are you going anywhere? Maybe a road trip up the beach or for a trip interstate to see relatives. List everything you need to organise and shop around for deals.
4. Bag a bargain - In today's age of endless discounts and retail wars, you don't have to wait until the boxing day sales to find what you need a bit cheaper. Once you have your lists and know what you want to buy, you can start to scour catalogues, check out online stores and watch different items to get the best deal! Also, there is no shame in asking for a discount – most sellers these days are prepared to barter!
5. Share the load - Who says you have to bear a huge financial burden for gifts and events. Instead of buying presents for everyone, consider doing a family Secret Santa and just buy for one person. If hosting a get-together, ask friends to bring a plate of nibbles and drinks to share.
6. Pay with Points - If you have rewards points that you have been collecting and never seem to cash in, Christmas is a great opportunity to use them! Check your balance and see what is available to purchase, who knows the perfect gift for the kids might be waiting and ready!
7. Stalk Social - If you follow your favourite brands and retailers on social media, you may be able to get exclusive discounts through these social channels. Their newsletters may also alert you to sales and deals and there are also lots of discount or deal apps that you can use to find bargains
8. Track your trail - Keeping track of your festive spending is the best way to avoid going over your budget. Write down everything you buy and tick off your lists as you go.
9. Be Generous - be honest about your own needs this Christmas and if as a grown-up you don't actually need anything consider those that do and look at how you can give to a charity to support those in need.
10. Start Now – Once you've made your lists start buying now to spread the cost across a few months rather than a week.

Christmas is a great time to come together with family and friends to celebrate and relax. Make your Christmas a support act to a positive start of a new year by stripping back the spending and focusing on that which truly matters – time together!