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There are so many simple ways to avoid debt this holiday season, there should be no reason to add present giving onto your financial stresses. As some of you know, before I became a SAHM, I was a loan officer at a pretty big financial institution. This is the time of year when people started asking for loans to buy Christmas presents for their loved ones. Most of the loans that came across my desk for Christmas spending money were around $1000. It would absolutely blow my mind on just how much people would spend on Christmas each year. It would blow my mind even further to know that most of these people would be paying on the loan for 6 months to 1 year later, or further in some cases. This is why I decided to write this post today. The holiday season is already stressful enough, lets not add money stress on top of it.
According to CNBC.com Americans racked up just over $1,000 in credit card debt over Christmas 2017. Half of those people surveyed said they plan to pay off their Christmas debt in less than 3 months, the rest said they will take over 5 months to pay it back.
If you were to put your $1000 balance on your credit card, and then make the minimum payment of $25 on that card, it would take a few years to pay it back, given you have a good interest rate. It would take longer if your interest rate is higher
Remember the reason for the season
Christmas isn’t about gift giving. It’s about Christ and being with family. It’s about remembering our loved ones. It’s about glowing lights, and cold nights. It’s about cozying up to the fire place, or grabbing a blanket to watch your favorite Holiday movie or TV shows. It’s about MAGIC and seeing joy on everyone’s face. Most of all it’s about that sense of cheer and love in the air.
So you have the WHY, here comes the HOW.
Set A Budget AND Stick To It.
YUUP, you heard me. Stick to your budget. I’m sure you already have a budget for your monthly expenses, if you don’t I have a great budget sheet for you included when you chose to get my emails. This would be another expense you need to figure into your monthly budget. Only add what you can comfortably afford without adding more debt. Remember to also set aside money you would need to spend on traveling expenses, wrapping gifts, or making those decorations.
Make Gifts and Decorations INSTEAD of Buying Gifts
Making gifts is not just for little kids making macaroni necklaces, it’s for you too! Really put some thought into what each person likes, or could use and make it. It could be as simple as their favorite baked good or as complex as you whipping out your amazing wood working skills to make them an ornament. Put some thought into it but don’t over think it. I have found the stuff I make for people, (usually wall decorations such as photos, lettering, paintings, etc.) tend to go a lot farther and last a lot longer than something I could buy them in the store.
Making decorations is always fun too. I loved making decorations for Halloween this year, and plan on also making decorations for Christmas. Check out my Halloween decorations below.
Make Extra Money
Lets face it, saving money can be HARD! A little job on the side may help you have enough to buy the gifts you want to give. What started off as a side hustle for me, now helps me pay unexpected expenses, grow my savings, and pay bills each month, yup, I’m talking about blogging. I also have an Etsy shop which helps too!
I know blogging is not for everyone and it does take a lot of time and effort to get things moving. There are SO MANY other ways you can make money without having a real job.
Check these money making posts:
For more information on blogging, check out my ♥ blog help and resource page.♥
Keep Your List Intimate
Pick a person for a gift exchange instead of gifting for all.
A few years back, as siblings, we decided to pick a name and give a gift to that person instead of having to buy gifts for everyone. This way everyone still got a gift but we didn’t go broke buying a gift for everyone. I have 3 siblings and my husband has 3 as well. So when we do give gifts, instead of buying 6 gifts we only buy 2.
Remove more people from your gift list
Do you REEEAALLY need to give individual gifts to your co-workers, or even your favorite Aunts or Uncles, or do you just want to? IF it is in your budget, go for it. If it isn’t you’re going to have to figure out who makes the cut and who doesn’t. You may also want to consider doing a group gift for your co-workers and extended family, such as bringing in a baked good, or a store bought box of doughnuts. This will save you money and time.
Only buy gifts for the kids
As we get older, our family keeps growing, so it gets harder and harder to add more and more gifts to buy each year. Instead of buying gifts for siblings, we have decided together that it would be best to just buy for the nieces and nephews. After all, we all enjoy seeing their faces light up so much. We can then focus more attention on what really matters instead of stressing over gifts.
Buy gifts early
Spread out your purchases
My Mother likes to get her Christmas shopping started in September. This way she can spread out her purchases and take less of a financial hit on her wallet. In fact, she is usually all done before Thanksgiving rolls around. I love this because then she really gets to get into the Holiday season and not worry about gifts, money, or stress. She just spreads Christmas cheer like a little fairy with pixie dust.
Continue to watch the sales
Have you ever noticed that when you buy something, it goes on sale literally RIGHT AFTER you purchased it? It happens to me all the time. I have also noticed that with most stores, if you buy something and it goes on sale within 30 days, IF YOU ASK FOR A REFUND THEY WILL GIVE IT TO YOU. I have done this a few times on bigger purchases but not so much on the smaller ones. You have to ask AND take your receipt. Remember, you will miss out on 100% of things you don’t ask for. SO ASK. The worst they could say is no and then you can either return it for a full refund, and purchase it at the lower cost, or just walk away.
Give the gift of presence
Like I said before, Christmas time is to me, spending quality time with family. Instead of exchanging presents with siblings we often just go to dinner or have a game night. I REALLY ENJOY MAKING MEMORIES INSTEAD OF HAVING THINGS. Don’t get me wrong, I like having things but, I could go without things to spend more time with people that I love and that love me back.
Save money ahead of time
Saving money for Christmas doesn’t have to be hard. You could go to your local bank and set up a certificate or savings account specifically dedicated for Christmas. You could also just save a little bit each paycheck as seen in this post ♥ Save $500 by Christmas ♥ if you start early enough. Saving up money ahead of time, as well as shopping early will definitely benefit you when it comes to not going over budget this Holiday season.
Give to Charity Instead
Charities don’t always need your money. There are plenty of items you could donate to your local good will, or food bank. If you don’t have items or money to donate, donate your time. Spend your time serving the members of you community, such as volunteering at your local food bank, reading to children at a local school, visiting a senior center, etc.
Do NOT buy yourself anything
I know I know, you see these amazing deals that you just have to get your hands on. When you are out shopping, just remember that everything you buy for yourself is just another expense that needs to be budgeted for. By all means, if you can afford it then TREAT YO’ SELF! If not, buy it for yourself in the new year, or as an award for achieving a certain goal.
Use credit card reward points
If you have been using a credit card all year long, you should have some pretty good points saved up by now. Use these points to redeem gift cards, or make purchases online.
If you do not have a credit card with rewards/ rebates CHANGE IT. You should be getting something back for spending money each month with your credit card. Remember, with most credit cards, if you pay off your credit card each month you will never be charged interest!
Ask for a lower rate or a balance transfer
While we are on the topics of credit cards, why not see if your financial institution can offer you a better rate than what you currently have. If they can not, I am sure there is a card out there that will do a FREE balance transfer with a lower rate than you currently have.
Remember your financial goals
Most of you have financial goals such as having an emergency fund, saving for retirement, saving for your next vacation, paying off that personal loan, or credit card, or simply just having cash and not using a credit card. Whichever it may be, keep these reasons in mind when you’re making your purchases. You should have that little voice in the back of your mind saying, “Do you reeeallly need that?” You’ll of course weigh your options, revisit your goals, and then proceed with your decision.
Did you like these easy ways to avoid debt this holiday season?
What was your ah-ha moment? Drop it in comments.
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