7 Tips to Avoid the Holiday Debt Trap
Guest post from Rachael of Thriving on Thrifty
Now that the weather is getting cooler and the leaves are beginning to fall, I can only think of the joyous season ahead. Holidays full of turkey, pies, lights, mistletoe, debt, tinsel, caroling…Wait, HUH? Debt? That must be a typo, right?
Unfortunately, it seems that debt is becoming about as common in the holiday season as Christmas trees and turkey dinners. So how do we take this joy zapper out of such a joyous season? Well, I have 7 ideas below that have helped me enjoy my holidays without dreading the credit card bill in the weeks to follow:
1. Make a gift budget and stick to it.
Christmas comes the same time each year, and yet somehow it always sneaks up on us financially. However, if you include it in your budget and save throughout the year, by the time it’s time to shop you already have your money set aside.
Also, be sure to stick to your budget. It’s so easy to just go a few dollars over here and there, but those dollars can really start to add up. Make a budget and stick to it!
2. Shop early.
You may be wondering why I wrote this post now. We still have over 2 months until Christmas. Well, the earlier you shop the more time you have to look for deals.
I started shopping for Christmas presents back in the spring so I could catch great deals as they came along rather than waiting until the last minute and settling for whatever prices are available.
While it’s no longer spring time, you still have plenty of time to find some awesome deals… and then next year you can start even earlier!
3. Be practical.
I know it’s so easy to want to buy every toy that your kid puts on his list. However, they truly don’t need every toy.
Guess what? In a few months, they will probably have forgotten about that toy and will be wanting something else. While it’s fun to get a few things that your kids are longing for, use Christmas as a great time to get the stuff they truly need.
When I was about 10, my parents got me a mattress. Yes, you read it right…a mattress.
The funniest part is that I actually asked for the mattress (I was obviously a very practical child). I still remember that gift. You know why? My husband and I are still using that mattress.
While I may remember a few other presents from my childhood, I can truly say that very few of them have lasted me 15 years. That’s why we are using this year as an opportunity to upgrade my son’s baby room into his “big boy” room and get him some stuff that he really needs.
4. Be honest with yourself.
Just because you’ve gone all out in the past for Christmas doesn’t mean you have to meet or out-do it this year. Really analyze your situation and do what you can truly afford according to your income and budget.
5. Be creative.
Try finding creative ways to use your talents to make presents. For example, if your talent is photography, use this talent to make family portraits for someone.
If you are like me, maybe you really like couponing and finding free or inexpensive deals. Take those items and make a gift basket full of toiletries and pantry items. It might be practical, but I have a feeling it will get used.
6. Look for extra ways to save for Christmas.
Try looking for small ways to supplement your income to help pay for Christmas. Below are a few things I am using to help earn a little extra money here and there. Trust me, the little amounts can add up if you stick to it.
- Viggle: An app that gives you points for watching television that you can redeem for prizes like gift cards.
- Ebates: A rebate-style site that pays you to shop online.
- My Points: Get points for completing task, taking surveys, shopping online, etc. that can be redeemed for rewards like gift cards.
- Inbox Dollars: Earn money while completing task, confirming paid emails, and more.
- ExpoTV: Get points for making video reviews of various products which can be translated into rewards like Amazon gift cards.
7. Enjoy the season.
After all, the true meaning of this season is NOT about seeing how much debt we can accrue.
With these relatively simple tips, I hope you’ll have a wonderful holiday season filled with all that good stuff I mentioned above… and without all the debt!
What are your tips for having a debt-free holiday?
Rachael Lachniet is a stay at home mom who enjoys learning ways to save money for her family and tries to share these ideas with others on her blog, Thriving on Thrifty.
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