Did you manage to achieve a debt free Christmas last year? If not, would you like to this year? Yes? Well, with just under six months to go until Christmas is here again, now is the time to start planning for not just a debt free Christmas but a stress free one, too.
Get Started on a Debt Free Christmas with these Tips
Create a budget
Decide now how much money you want to spend on the holidays. Think about more than just gifts when putting together your budget. For instance, give some thought to the following questions:
- Will you be hosting guests over the holidays? How many and for how long?
- Will Christmas dinner include more than just immediate family? How many?
- Will you be travelling to visit family? How much will it cost to get there?
- How many people will you be purchasing gifts for this year?
- Will there be school or work related functions you need to attend? What will they cost?
- What about Kris Kringle gift swaps at work or school?
- Do you give a gift to teachers?
As you answer each question put a dollar value to your answer. This is money you’ll need to add to your overall Debt Free Christmas budget. All too often it’s the not so obvious expenses that are the ones that send us into debt at Christmas time. See how many of them you can catch now so there are no expensive surprises later.
Make a List
Start putting your shopping list together. If you have a list you can start looking for deals and/or coupons now; gingerbread spices on sale, stocking fillers, cheap airfares. Once you have that list, you’ll be more aware of special deals when they present themselves. Plus, if there’s someone on your list you just can’t think of a gift for, you know you need to start actively listening for hints. A $20 gift that is wanted and needed is always better than a $100 gift the recipient has no idea what to do with.
Map Out a Plan
How are those dollars adding up? Scary yet? Scary or not, you’ll need a plan for putting that money away. Firstly, where will it come from, will you need to add to your income to cover it? Can you make a little more cash by selling unwanted stuff? Can you cash out credit card rewards for prepaid gift cards? Will you need to cut back on some other spending in order to create a Christmas budget? Now’s the time to work out how you’ll fund your debt free Christmas. Even if your plan isn’t perfect, it’s better than no plan at all. And, no plan inevitably means lots of stress and last minute shopping. No-one wants that!
Christmas Shopping Apps
Don’t forget to put Smart Phone technology to good use and check out the free apps available to help you manage your Christmas shopping. A good plan involves working smarter, not harder so make the most of the tools that are available to you, your debt free Christmas is worth it.
Some examples are:
- iOS – Gift It, Santa’s Bag
- Android – Christmas Gift List, Christmas List Snowball.
Have your list with you wherever you go and update it as you find each gift.
If you’re looking for free apps to help find deals or the best price, check out Top iPhone Christmas Shopping Appplications.
Start Saving Now
Don’t wait to start saving for Christmas. Do it now! The longer you have to save for a debt free Christmas, the more chance you’ll have of attaining it. Get yourself an envelope, piggy bank or additional online account (make sure there are no fees attached) and start putting a regular amount away each pay day. Revise your budget to include this amount, while you’re at it, check to make sure you have other gift giving occasions included in your budget: birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
Set Your Family’s Expectations
This is a big one. If money is going to be tight, make sure your family knows all their Christmas wishes (at least for tangible gifts) will not be coming true this year. Set their expectations now and take a whole heap of pressure off yourself. The other thing to consider is that you don’t need to pile up a mountain of gifts for each family member.
If you’ve ever seen the fulfillment curve in action you’ll know what I mean. Kids squeal with delight as they unwrap the first, second and probably third gift but after that the excitement wanes and by the end, it all begins to look like a chore. Stick to a maximum of three gifts, your kids will appreciate them more and you’ll be less stressed.
When you’re sitting down to plan your shopping list, think about each person on your list and consider what they value most. We tend to think about gift buying from our own point of view, that is, what we want to give, rather than purely from the recipient’s side. So, think about your giftee’s values first. Will they appreciate something flashy or indulgent or trendy or will they appreciate something simple like homemade treats or some flower seeds or an activity you can share? You might be surprised how little you need to spend to show your love and appreciation to those closest to you. And, isn’t that what all this gift giving is about?
Related Post: Did you know it’s only 10 weeks until Christmas?
Your Debt Free Christmas is Attainable
It’s easy to be caught in the exciting swirl of Christmas, spend more than we should, and instead of counting our blessings we find ourselves counting the cost. That’s no way to spend the holidays. This year, make a commitment to a debt free Christmas so you can relax and enjoy the time with family and friends knowing the only thing you need concern yourself with is this: who’s washing the dishes?!
Does the holiday season usually leave you in debt?
Have you given any thought to planning this Christmas yet?