11 Ways to Have a Debt Free Christmas

11 Ways to Have a Debt Free ChristmasIt may still be several months away, but Christmas will be here before you know it.

From office parties, school parties and of course family parties and gifts, the additional costs will lead many to happily break out their credit cards to fund the holidays.

1. Set a budget

Decide on a total amount you want to spend, then break that down into categories.

Remember to include the costs associated with holiday festivities such as your annual Christmas party, white elephant gifts, etc. with your gift giving budget.

Be reasonable in your gift giving. It truly is the thought that is more important than the gift itself.

2. Shop the clearance racks

Savvy shoppers will avoid the “holiday season” mark-up on gifts by purchasing them throughout the year.  

Then, while Ol’ Saint Nick is polishing his boots, they’ll wrap them up, tag them and slip them under the tree…easy breezy!

3. Shop online…before you hit the stores…or not

Avoid the mad holiday shoppers and cruise the online deals first…then head out into the fray if you want, armed with the online cost of everything on your shopping list.

Some stores will match the price you’ve found online, so be sure to ask. If not, then it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it to you to buy online or local.

While it’s always a good idea to support local businesses, sometimes they simply don’t have what you’re looking for, or their prices are much more than what you could pay for it online – potentially affecting your Christmas budget.

That said, there are some situations where you might be more comfortable buying local for the convenience of an easy return should you have any issues with the product.

4. Don’t shop Black Friday…unless you know it’s really been marked down

Don’t fall for the typical retail marketing ploy known as Black Friday.

Often, the products that are marked way down are things that you wouldn’t have normally purchased…or in some cases they’re marked up before they’re marked down again (to what is really the original price).

Always, always, always comparison shop…especially for bigger budget items.

5. Take online surveys

If you have the time and/or desire to make some spare change to help fund your Christmas, take free online surveys.

For best results, start early and join a number of sites to help pile up the cash faster.

6. Shop early…or after Christmas

Don’t wait until after Black Friday because prices always go back up. If you don’t purchase gifts after Christmas (for the following year) at least buy your gifts early.

Start online shopping around Columbus day for some ideas and sources of gifts you know your family will love. This ensures you’ll know where and when to find the best deals.

7. Leave the credit cards at home…or in your wallet

Research has shown that we spend less when we’re paying with cash than we do when using plastic because our subconscious feels a loss when we hand over money and don’t get it back.

However, when we pay with plastic, we get our card back, and the merchandise, so in effect we distance ourselves from the purchase and spend more than we’d planned.

To make sure you don’t spend more than you’ve budgeted, pay for everything with cash as opposed to credit.

8. Draw names

A common practice among many families is the idea of drawing names among extended family members.

It reduces the costs for everyone if they only have to buy a gift for Uncle Jim instead of every aunt, uncle, grandparent and cousin in the family.

9. Make homemade gifts

Nothing says “I think you’re special” like a homemade gift. But you don’t have to be a crafter, there are countless ideas across the web for gifts that will mean something special to the recipient.

Check out Pinterest for links to get the ideas flowing.

10. Use store layaways

Take advantage of layaway options which are still available at some stores. The cost – if any – is very small and is a good option if you don’t have the budget up front for Christmas gifts.

11. Hold a potluck party

You don’t have to foot the entire bill for your annual Christmas party…ask everyone to bring their favorite dish to share.

This will drastically cut down on your expenses and give everyone the chance to try something new.

Make a plan

Whether you choose one or all of these suggestions, the most important thing is to choose.

When you decide ahead of time how much your spending will be this Christmas, and how you’re going to pay for it, you buy yourself the one gift that you can’t find in a store…peace of mind.