Christmas is just around the corner and while the spiritual aspect is quite calming the retail side can be stressful beyond belief.
But there is a way to avoid that yuletide stress and post Christmas bank statement horror.
Diana Mathews from Money Tree Management has been there and done that. She clawed her way out debt and came up with the highly successful money tree system to ward off over spending.
'It turns a family into a nightmare because they are dealing with something that's after the event," says Diana. "All the emotion and excitement and fun and joy has gone and they are left with just dealing with the pain of the bill".
Diana says the big stores are set up in such a way to seduce you into spending.
"There's a lot of manipulation that goes on in that way," says Diana.
Debbie Baker admits she was out of control when it came to credit card spending particularly at Christmas where she went out armed with a purse full of plastic.
"I had six or seven credit cards on the go at any one time," says Debbie.
And the buying sprees on credit were literally making her sick.
'It was really a therapy for my depression and I think a lot of people would be suffering from the same thing. It makes you feel good for an hour or so while you're out there scouting around looking for bargains but when you get the bill the next month and you realise what you've done you just go crashing down again, so retail therapy is not the way to go."
So what is the way to go? Well Diana Mathews reckons she has the answer.
"My best advice to save money over the Christmas period and not get caught is to stay away from the sales and don't go into the city or into the big stores at all unless you have a list and you can stick to that list."
And remember cash is king says Diana.
"Leave your credit card at home. Don't even take it with you when you go shopping and that gets rid of that problem come January or February when you get your bill and besides what sort of Christmas can you give your family if you're sitting there in misery just to see them open up their presents? Really the whole meaning of Christmas is sharing love and love is free."
So let's check Diana's money tree rules for a worry free Christmas and New Year.
Leave your credit card at home
Where possible use cash
Avoid the big stores with their glitzy marketing temptations
Consider lay-buying presents during the year
To save for Christmas 2009 put a little away each week starting January
"If you start in January," says Diana "try to save maybe $10 a week to have a reasonable Christmas. If you leave it until October or November or December then you have to use your credit card and that's bad."
Debbie Baker is now using Diana's Money Tree program to get herself back into the black.
"It shows you how to prioritize your money and get rid of those debts as fast as you can," says a proud Diana Mathews. "There's 3 different amounts that you put aside and if you stick to it rigidly, I'm sure you can get out of debt."
For the former big spending Debbie it's a power trip in the best possible way.
"It's very important that you get your power back� cut up those cards."
The Money Tree
Phone: 1300 781 554
Or: 0431 247 422