Christmas time can be a time of joy and family celebrations. However, it can also be a time of overspending if you are not careful. Money spent on gifts, Christmas decorations, food for holiday parties or get-togethers, and other miscellaneous items can add up quickly.
How many of you sometimes over spend at Christmas time? No judging here because I am guilty of overspending too. However, the last thing that I want to do this Christmas season is get caught up with Christmas debt. You know, the debt that sticks around until March.
However, there is hope! You can have a debt free Christmas by using these simple and practical tips.
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Set a Christmas Budget
A Christmas budget is how much you can AFFORD to spend for Christmas. I break down my Christmas budget into different categories: gifts, decorations, food, miscellaneous. Sticking to this Christmas budget is one of the most important steps in having a debt free Christmas.
Make a list
Make a list of all the people that you are required to buy gifts for. This list will help keep you focused when you are buying gifts. You will also want to make a list of what you will need to buy with regards to decorations and food for the Christmas holiday. Once you have your lists, you can move onto the next tip.
Set a Spending Limit
Looking at your lists, set a spending limit for each person, decorations, and food. Spending limits for each person may be different. For instance, I spend more on my kids than I do my nephew. The amount you choose to spend on each person, decorations, and food should be within your Christmas budget. No matter how difficult it may be, you cannot go over the spending limits. Sometimes you may be able to spend less in certain areas which is a great bonus!
Another great way to save money during Christmas is to draw names. In my extended family, the adults draw names and the children draw names so each person receives one gift. Let’s face it, most parents give their children plenty of gifts during Christmas so one gift from the extended family is sufficient.
Use only Cash
When buying gifts, use only cash. This will help you stick to your Christmas budget and not over spend. However, if you shop online, you will have to make sure that you pay off credit cards as soon as you use them in order to stay on budget. It is easy to overspend when using credit cards so stick to using cash if you can.
Shop During the Sales
You should always try to buy all of your Christmas items on sale. Check the Black Friday sales or if you like to shop online, use Ebates to shop. Ebates is a FREE money saving program that can be used with many retailers that you will probably be shopping with anyway. Sign up with Ebates today to save on every Christmas purchase.
Make Homemade Gifts
I love homemade gifts! The great part about homemade gifts besides the fact that they have been specially made for you is that they are often less expensive than buying a gift from the store. You don’t even have to be a baker or crafter to make homemade gifts. Check out this post from Passion for Savings, The Ultimate List of Christmas Gifts in a Jar. You might also find some ideas for homemade gifts from How to Build It, 15 Homemade Christmas Gifts That Aren’t Cheesy. Also check out Savvy Honey’s post, 10 DIY Cheap Christmas Gift Ideas from the Dollar Store Under $10.
Layaway is a great resource when you don’t have the money in your Christmas budget up front. You can still shop for Christmas gifts, but you don’t have to pay for them right away. You can pay a small amount on the layaway every week until it’s paid off. Some stores that offer layaway are Walmart and Toys R Us.
Give a Free Gift
You might be wondering what a free gift is. Basically it’s your time or effort. For instance, you could give a certificate for one month’s worth of housecleaning, two evenings of babysitting, or a weekend of house-sitting. Be creative. Many people appreciate these practical gifts.
Christmas truly is a time to celebrate with family and friends. With some planning and determination, Christmas debt doesn’t have to be part of your holiday season. Try these simple and practical tips to stay debt free this Christmas season.
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