Are you worried about how financial pressures might impact the upcoming holidays? Could they get in the way of your relationships with family and loved ones?
While the festive season is an exciting time for many people, it can also come with additional costs and unique challenges.
This is especially true when it comes to making plans and buying gifts for family and friends, as people often approach the holidays with different priorities and from different financial positions.
With interest rates and the cost of living on the rise, many Australians are managing tight budgets. According to the ABC, nearly 40% of consumers expect to spend less on gifts in 2022 than in previous years.
For these reasons, it’s important to make plans early, and have open and respectful conversations with loved ones about these plans and what’s important these holidays.
The tips below are designed to help you to all get on the same page in the coming weeks and to stay focused on what matters most – your relationships with each other.
6 tips for setting expectations these holidays
- Make a list of what’s most important to you these holidays. This might include spending quality time with people you care about, sharing a meal, doing an activity, exchanging meaningful gifts, sharing stories, or all or none of the above.
- Ask your family members and friends what’s most important to them these holidays and talk about what’s important to you both. Focusing on shared values such as re-connecting with each other can help to manage disappointment if there’s anything you don’t agree about.
- Approach conversations with empathy and understanding. People’s preferences around events and gifts are impacted by a range of things including their past experiences, personal values, financial situation and the ways that they like to show and receive love. Remember that everyone isn’t in the same situation as you and may want or need to do things differently to you.
- If you won’t be giving gifts this year, let people know as early as possible. You may not be able to afford to buy gifts, may not choose to give gifts or might choose to give homemade gifts or experiences. Whatever you decide to do, set expectations now about your actions and what you do or don’t expect from others. While this may feel awkward, it will help things to go more smoothly later.
- Say no if you need to. Respectfully say no to things that you can’t fit in and remember to ask for help with tasks if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Activities such as running errands, shopping or preparing food can also be great opportunities to spend time together while also giving each other support.
- Ask if there are any other things that you should talk about together. This might include health concerns, preferences around COVID-19 safety measures, or emotional triggers such as grief about absent loved ones.
4 low-cost gift ideas for when budgets are tight
- Organise a gift-exchange system with a price limit that’s reasonable for your family, such as Kris Kringle, so that each person/family only has to organise one gift.
- Make something yourself, such as baked goods, crafts, or a lovingly grown plant from a seed or cutting.
- Gift an experience, such as cooking them dinner, babysitting, help with gardening or an offer to do an activity together that the person will enjoy.
- Write the person a card or a letter and tell them what you appreciate or love about them.
There are a range of services and online resources available to assist you with your finances.
- The Australian Government Department of Social Services has a list of emergency relief services at https://serviceproviders.dss.gov.au which can help you with things like:
- food vouchers or food parcels
- transport vouchers
- chemist vouchers
- clothing or furniture
- part-payment of utility bills
- help with back-to-school costs.
- Services Australia provides a free service to help you make informed decisions about your finances. Visit https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/financial-information-service
- The Moneysmart website has information on making financial decisions, budgeting and other financial matters, a budget planner, savings goal calculator and simple money manager. Visit https://moneysmart.gov.au/
- Call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or visit https://ndh.org.au/ for free advice on how to manage your debts. You can also find a financial counsellor by contacting your local government or community health centre.
- If you or a family member has a gambling problem and are experiencing financial issues, you can access free and confidential support, 24/7, through Gambling Help Online. Call 1800 858 858 or visit https://www.gamblinghelponline.org.au/
If you’re in immediate danger, please call emergency services now on 000 (triple zero).
This post does not constitute professional advice. It is for informational purposes only.