Your Guide to Getting through the Holidays Debt-Free

getting through the holidays wihtout getting into debt

It doesn’t seem to matter how committed we are to spending less, when the holidays roll around, it feels easier to justify spending money on credit cards or pushing our budgets to buy the next greatest gadget. We have had a tight budget over the last few years, but this year is going to be even tighter. My husband took a job that pays a lot less than his previous work so our holiday spending budget is slim this year. But, we’ve managed to have great Christmases in the past, despite tight budgets, by following a few simple rules for getting through the holidays without breaking our bank.

Do not buy for everyone

There is a misconception that you must everyone you know a gift for the holidays. If you include everyone from your neighbors to your mail carrier and personal trainer, your holiday bills will stack up. Even if you only buy for family and extended family, the bills can add up quickly. Trim your gifting list and consider drawing names (or family’s) with your extended family to trim your expenses even more.

Make your gifts

You can keep your spending low by creating gifts at home. Often these are more personal than gifts you buy at the store. This is particularly helpful if you really want to get your child’s teacher or neighbors a gift.

Buy at the right time

The easiest way to save money during the holidays is to not spend any money at all. If you plan and purchase gifts throughout the year, you can buy items when they are on sale and avoid missing a gift because they are sold out in the mad holiday rush.

 A holiday tip: Buy your Christmas trees, wrapping paper and other holiday items at the end of the holiday season and store them for next year. End of the season sales offer major markdowns on most holiday décor. You can save a lot of money by purchasing these items after Christmas.

Pay with cash

Leave your credit cards at home. When you use credit cards, you are likely to spend more, not to mention the interest on any balance you have left at the end of the month. Withdraw cash and use it to make your holiday purchases. When the cash is gone, so is your shopping time.

Be realistic

If your kids are anything like mine, they want a lot. But, maybe it’s not really the kids. I always feel like I have to buy my kids a lot because I have an image in my head of what Christmas morning should be like. In truth, they only play with a few of the things they get. The rest ends up being filler. So do not overspend to fulfill some idealistic version of Christmas, which leads me to my last tip.

Make a list and rank it

Ask your kids what they want for Christmas and have them pick two or three things they want the most. Then make your shopping list and rank the items by importance. Buy the number one gift for each member of your family and work your way down the list until your budget is spent. This will allow you to get the most important items and save money by not buying filler items.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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