The day after Thanksgiving thousands of people set out to get their Christmas shopping done. Many go overboard charging hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to their credit card. Then in January they make a New Year’s resolution to get out of debt.
While their resolution to rid their debt is a noble one, it makes little sense to accumulate debt only a few weeks before declaring to demolish it.
If this sounds like something you typically do it’s time to turn a new leaf. Here are six ways you can avoid credit card debt during the Christmas Season.
Create a Gift Budget
When someone gives me a gift that costs far more than what I spent on theirs I feel bad – really bad. And, I bet you do too.
You need to set realistic expectations and a realistic budget when it comes to purchasing other’s gifts. Talk to your family members and set a limit on what you will spend on their kids and what they will spend on yours. Stick to the limit!
Don’t Buy Adults Gifts
The older I get the less I enjoy receiving gifts from others. At times it’s just plain ole awkward. Like most adults, if there is something that I need I go buy it. The last thing I want is a family member who doesn’t have much money to purchase me something. It’s wrong.
I have talked to the majority of adults in my family and made deals with them not to buy each other gifts. The adults I do buy gifts for, like my mom and dad, receive inexpensive but personal presents like framed photos of their grandkids. It relieves so much stress and is better on your budget.
Earn Extra Income for Christmas
While I don’t buy most adult’s gifts I do love shopping for my kids. There’s nothing better than seeing the excitement in a child’s face when they wake up Christmas morning and see gifts under the tree. It’s priceless.
That’s why I’ve always tried to increase my income during the holiday season. Earning a little extra money doesn’t have to be hard. Here are a few ideas for you:
- Pick up overtime at your job
- Take surveys online
- Walk dogs
- Clean houses
There are limitless ways to earn extra money. All you have to do is take note of your skills, hobbies, and interests and turn them into a temporary side job.
Start a Christmas Savings Account
This tip is obviously meant to be implemented well before Christmas begins. Saving for Christmas gifts well before Christmas is the best way to avoid debt.
Many banks, and even some employers, offer special Christmas savings accounts – take advantage of them. However, you don’t necessarily need either of those to start saving for Christmas.
All you need to is determine how much money you plan on spending on Christmas gifts and set that amount of money into an earmarked savings account each week. I use an online savings account like Capital One 360 so that I can create several different, specific savings accounts. Example: You need a thousand bucks for Christmas gifts – start stashing $20 a week away for one year. Boom! You’ll be able to painlessly, guilt free and debt free shop for gifts once Christmas rolls around.
Shop Early (& Late)
If you start shopping early for Christmas gifts you’ll be able to snag awesome priced gifts for everyone on your list. The earlier you start shopping the better.
You’ll also be able to take advantage of several clearance sales by doing this. For example, my two daughters love to dress up so I decided to make them both huge dress up trunks for Christmas. When Halloween was over I went to all the stores and bought the leftover costumes for up to 90 percent off. You can’t beat that!
If you find yourself with a little shopping left as the holiday nears wait until last minute to finish up your gift buying. Retailers start marking down their merchandise as Christmas grows closer and closer. They need to clear their shelves of excess inventory making this the perfect time for you to finish up.
Leave the Credit Cards at Home
If you don’t have the cash to spend on Christmas gifts you shouldn’t be spending. Period.
Leave your credit cards at home when you set out to shop for Christmas gifts. Better yet, if you have a credit card debt problem cut those suckers up. Nobody expects you to go into debt over Christmas. It defeats the whole purpose of the holiday.
Don’t Go In Debt for Christmas
Christmas is a time for giving but it’s also a time for enjoying one another’s company. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t have enough money to lavish everyone with gifts. Nobody is expecting you to do that.
Focus on what really matters. Then when New Year’s rolls around and you set your resolutions you won’t have to worry about paying back all that extra credit card debt.
What other tricks do you use to avoid credit card debt during the holidays?