How to beat Christmas cash stress
LIKE most parents, Jenna Buttery wants to give her four children the best Christmas she can.
But when you're a single mum trying to make ends meet, it can be very tough.
After years of struggling through the most expensive month of the year, the Condon woman began looking for ways to take the financial stress out of Christmas.
"I know what it's like to get help from the Salvation Army to put presents under the Christmas tree," she said. "That was six years ago. That will never happen again to me or my family because I now know how to budget."
Ms Buttery said sticking to a budget was the recipe to a "stress-free" festive period.
"Of course it's not only about sticking to a budget during this high-cost time of the year," she said. "I stick to a budget all year and I put away for times such as this. In fact I bought all my Christmas presents ages ago from my tax refund cheque. That period (July/August) is a great time to buy as that's when the big toy sales are on."
Ms Buttery is just one of many parents who have attended a Saver Plus workshop in Townsville
The program, which is supported by The Smith Family and ANZ Bank, provides financial education for families on lower incomes.
It also offers parents tips on how they can save at Christmas by getting creative.
Nikki Storey, Townsville co-ordinator for Saver Plus, says the program encourages people to be thrifty over the festive period.
``The key is to keep it simple Christmas doesn't have to be big and elaborate,'' the mother of three said.
``We have to remember that the idea of Christmas is to get together with family and enjoy spending quality time together. Kids will remember those moments for the rest of their lives and not the toys they did or didn't get.''
Mrs Storey said planning your Christmas budget was the best way to stop it from becoming a financial burden many months later.
``Know your family's fiscal limits and don't spend more on Christmas than you can afford,'' she said. ``Ideally, you should start planning your spending early in the year, setting aside money for presents.''