Cost of living crisis: Is Christmas cancelled?


For many Aussies, it very well could be.

In fact, a massive 51% admitted they are buying less or cancelling their Christmas plans this year because the rising cost of living has become unmanageable.

Finder stats reveal the ways that we're slashing our spending, with almost one in five (18%) admitting that they're implementing a gift-giving limit with loved ones, and 13% skipping trips away and staying at home to curb costs.

is christmas cancelled cost of living crisis

These are grim statistics, but perhaps not all too surprising, given that homeowners are spending on average $1,000 more per month for their mortgage than they were 18 months ago.

All is not lost, however. If you're staring down the barrel of a very cut-price Christmas, we have plenty of tips to help you bring the festive cheer without the financial headaches. Do we really need to cancel Christmas?

There's no getting around the fact that Christmas is going to look very different for many of us this year, as simply existing has become a massive financial drain over the last 12 months.

Our Cost of Living Gauge shows just how much the sting of paying our ever-increasing household bills has impacted Australians this year across different areas, including employment and fewer pay increases/bonuses, and increases to grocery prices, utilities, petrol, insurance, rent and mortgages.

Right now, the cost of living pressure experienced by Australian households sits in the extreme range at 79%.

A little while ago, I spoke with Money's Tom Watson about the ways you could try and save money in the lead-up to Christmas.

We ran through a range of ways to make Christmas more affordable, including getting a jump start on saving for Christmas 2024 in January next year.

How to save on gifts this Christmas

But if you're still focused on getting through the festive season right in front of us on a low budget, here's a few tips that will help you manage your budget without impacting your enjoyment:

Do Secret Santa or Bad Santa instead of traditional gift-giving with the grown-ups in your life, with a budget you can afford.

Opt for Bad Santa, where everyone buys a gift as funny, as whimsical or in as terrible taste as possible, is a fun way to inject some silliness into Christmas Day!

If you're hosting loved ones on Christmas Day, work out your menu and then ask your relatives to bring certain dishes, so you don't have to foot the entire bloated bill of catering. Split the costs of presents with others by doing joint presents and sticking to a smaller budget.

Make homemade gifts that play to your strengths, like homemade brownies, a lasagne for the gift recipient's freezer, or cookie dough to make their own cookies. You can wrap baked goodies in cellophane and add a few $1 scratchies to give a gift that is thoughtful, useful and fun.

Skip giving presents in favour of giving your time and services to others. Many would much prefer to receive the gift of your time for three hours to help them babysit for a date night, declutter their wardrobe, tidy up the garden or clean out the pantry, rather than yet another shirt or bottle of wine.

If you still want to spoil your loved ones with presents and celebrate as you usually would, make sure you take advantage of pre-Christmas sales.

You shouldn't be paying full price for anything at this time of year, so spend what you can afford and keep to a budget. Christmas is the season of giving, but it's also all about self-care - and the ultimate act of self-care is making sure you don't have to pay off Christmas for months and months in the new year.

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Sarah Megginson is a personal finance expert at Finder and regular media commentator, with over 20 years' experience in property and finance journalism. She holds ASIC RG146-compliant Tier 1 Generic Knowledge certification and as a mother of three, Sarah is passionate about helping the next generation understand how to earn, invest and manage money.