Special occasions are a great excuse to get family or some friends together to celebrate. But costs can quickly mount and turn a joyful experience into a stressful one if we’re not mindful and keeping track.
Between different events, such as significant birthdays or children’s birthday parties, communions, and confirmations, your social calendar can fill up quickly. Leaving your wallet feeling very light! This is why it’s a good idea to plan and budget accordingly.
In this blog, we are focusing on three specific occasions – Christenings, Communions and Confirmations. Special events can be a big expense for you and those attending. Our tips can apply to any family occasion on your calendar.
By the end of this blog, you will have a better idea of how to plan, budget, and save for these big days.
Planning for a special occasion
Take some time to work out how many special occasions you have coming in the next 12 months. When it comes to confirmations and communions, these usually take place in March – May.
Have you received an invite to a christening, communion, or confirmation? Perhaps one of your children has a special occasion this year. Make a note of the date – either on your phone or a physical calendar – so it is recorded, and you have a goal to work towards. It is easier to plan for such events when you calculate the number of days or weeks from now until the event itself.
Using a physical calendar can be a better way of keeping track. It’s easier to see at a glance, and each month is presented in an overview. Also, everyone in the household can see what’s coming up, and saving can be a family affair.
It is important to note that it’s okay not to attend every event you’ve been invited to. Missing out on events can be upsetting, but there can be some that you just feel obligated to go to or spend money on. Do not feel you need to do so if this means you may end up short of money when it comes to your essentials, for example, household bills, food shop, or fuel.
It is important not to put any extra pressure on yourself to say yes. Hosting an event could be done on a budget. Host at home and ask family and friends to contribute to the catering or other gifts. Or creating a vault or ‘envelope’ on apps like Revolut or An Post, or open a notice savings account that restricts the accessibility of the funds at the drop of a hat. Try not to put the costs of attending or hosting an event on the credit card because it will cost more in the long run with high-interest rates.
We know not everyone will have the option to put away money every time they get paid. But if you can start small with €10 per week or when you get paid, you can avoid borrowing or reduce the need to borrow to cover costs.
As with any budget, you need to start by outlining what you can afford and what you need to buy. Listed below are some questions to get you started on what costs you might need to consider:
- Do you need to buy a gift or set money aside? Can you partner up with family members to buy a bigger gift?
- If you are hosting, do you have decorations already? Can you borrow some from family or friends? Do you need to hire a venue? If so, do you know someone who works there who can get you a good deal?
- Do you need an outfit/suit, or can you wear something you already have? Can you swap an outfit with a friend/family member or change it up with accessories like a belt, shirt or tie?
- Is it a one-day occasion?
- Do you need to travel and book accommodation? Can you partner up with family members to share accommodation costs?
- Do you need to book childcare or activities?
- If you’re the parent of a child, do they need new clothes for the occasion?
– Communion dresses or suits can be a big cost these days. Has a family member’s child or friend’s child recently had their communion? Can a dress be borrowed for the day?
– For confirmations, will they wear their uniform or is an outfit needed?
– Check out our page for further information on planning for communions and confirmations
There can be a lot to consider, but making out a plan and setting a budget can help you take control. Remember, MABS is here to help. Our advisers are here to help you get started, and best of all, the advice is free.
When creating a budget, it’s good practice to exclude the month or weeks before (depending on if you do a monthly or weekly budget) as you’ll be using it to pay for the occasion itself. E.g. If you’re budgeting for a communion at the end of April, don’t include the money you’re setting aside in April.
Where to make savings?
You have made a great start now that you’ve created your plan and your budget. If you have to pay deposits for venues, accommodation, or even occasion wear, set aside part of your budget for this. This will mean you’re not paying for it all in one go or leaving yourself short!
When you have a reasonable amount saved, keep an eye out for sales or special offers on gifts, accommodation, or occasion wear. Only buy if it is what you wanted to purchase, and don’t get carried away by big sales. It’s only a bargain if you were going to buy it when it wasn’t on offer.
Check out our tips on reducing your online spending to potentially save even more.
Remember, for occasions like christenings, communions, or confirmations, it’s about spending time together and making memories. It’s not about how much you spent trying to make the day perfect.
If you know someone that’s good at baking, ask if they would make a cake or cupcakes, and that can be their gift. You could get the kids involved in baking or, as an activity at the party, get them to decorate their own cupcakes!
We hope our discussion on special occasions has been helpful. Have you got your own top tips you’d like to share with others? Feel free to send us a message, and we can include these in our next blog.
If you have a specific question about this blog or about money, budgeting or debt, please call the MABS National Helpline on 0818 07 2000 Monday to Friday, from 9am to 8pm, WhatsApp 086 035 3141 or find the contact details for your local office.
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Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure this information is current and correct. The details of each case can be unique. As a result, the outcome can be different to what has been described in this blog.
Note: We welcome references to and use of the content in this blog. However, please reference MABS and link said content if you choose to do so.