If you haven’t committed to a debt free lifestyle and getting intense about paying off your debt. Perhaps your first step to test the waters would be to vow, not to incur new debt. If you typically place holiday spending on credit cards and then pay them off throughout the New Year. Perhaps this is the year, you say enough is a enough!
Maybe you have already committed to a monthly budget and are tackling debt with an intensity you never thought possible. Perhaps this will be the first Christmas that will be paid for in full before the big day.
No matter where you are in your financial journey. The holiday season is always a tricky one to stay within your budget. Depending on your holiday traditions extra expenses can add up quickly.
10 Ways to a Debt Free Christmas
Have a Plan
Christmas is 3 months, most likely 5 paychecks, away. If you don’t already have a “Christmas Fund” started you need to get one started NOW! Write out all of your expenses. HERE is my post from last year, to help you brainstorm all of your possible expenses. Write down the names of all the people you plan on giving gifts to this year. Next to each name give yourself a budget for the gift and possible gift ideas. Once you have an idea of your total budget, you will then know how much you need to save from each paycheck.
Look for Deals All Year Long
Once you have a list of recipients and possible gifts you will know what products you are to keep your eye on for a great sale. Know when items typically go on sale or to clearance. For example, if you have a gardener or someone who wants a barbeque grill, you know these products typically go to clearance late in the summer. If you have some electronics or small kitchen appliances on your list, you know that Black Friday is a good time to pick up deals on these products. Often you can find great stocking stuffers (accessories, nail polish, tools, small toys) in the clearance section.
Cherished Memories Far Out Way Any Gift
If funds are going to be tight this year, don’t fret. I know my holiday memories are more about the traditions and the fun things we did as a family, than any gift that was or was not under the tree. Make the holiday season special for your family by incorporating free/low cost activities.
The Season of Giving
Remember the true meaning of the season. A great way to make your whole family appreciative of all your family’s blessings is to give back to the community. Perhaps you can make it a family holiday tradition. Donate your time at a homeless shelter, food pantry, soup kitchen, or whatever charity/non-profit is close to your heart.
Great deals are to be had, but make sure you have done your research. You want to look into the quality of the product and make sure it is the absolute lowest price. Shop from home, you don’t have to deal with the crowds and waiting in line and you won’t make impulse buys due to lack of sleep or peer influence.
Make Homemade Gifts
Pinterest has millions of different ideas. You could make festive holiday cookies or candy, homemade bread. Make a home décor item to display during the holidays. You could do a family gift themed basket, such as “ice cream party” with all of the supplies (cones, sprinkles, hot fudge, candy, etc.) or “movie night” with some microwave popcorn and candy and a favorite family movie or Redbox rentals.
Give the Gift of Time
Perhaps you could talk with your friends and/or family members who you usually exchange gifts with and propose an idea to give each other “time” instead of gifts this year. Meaning, you do a fun activity together and make meaningful memories. Perhaps you could make sugar cookies or ginger bread houses together, go ice skating or sledding. The possibilities are endless!
Once your money is gone, it’s gone.
Don’t you dare pull out the plastic for last minute gifts! Once you have used up all of your Christmas budget you don’t buy a single thing more for the holidays. It won’t be the end of the world if there isn’t cranberries on the dinner table, or if your children have 2 gifts instead of 10, or if one of your good friends doesn’t get a gift. Everything will be just fine. The people who love you will still love you and you will still have many more blessings than you can count.
After Christmas Sales
Give next year’s Christmas budget a little head start. Typically you can pick up items such as gift wrap, bows, gift bags, Christmas cards, etc. for 75-90% off regular price. You can purchase all these items that may cause a $20-$40 hit to your budget next year, just for a couple dollars during these after Christmas Clearance sales.
Make January Count, Instead of Going Into Debt
If you are going to be short a paycheck to save up enough for your Christmas budget, make your January 1st paycheck count. NO, I don’t mean put it on a credit card and pay it in January. I mean you could easily purchase your last gifts in January. Maybe one of your children wants a movie or video game that isn’t released until after Christmas. Perhaps your teenager wants a new school outfit but would rather you not pick it out with your “horrible taste.” So you give them a future shopping trip to buy an outfit during the after Christmas sales. Maybe your spouse or teenager want concert tickets to a concert coming to your area in the Spring. Perhaps you aren’t going to see a friend or family member until after Christmas. Any of these possible gifts could be purchased in January or later. Simply print off a picture of the future gift and wrap up the picture for Christmas.