Have you made it your goal to stay out of debt this holiday season, or are you already calling your credit card companies to raise your credit limit? My advice is to pay for everything with cash this holiday season. You won’t regret your spending come January and February, and you won’t pay for the items three times over by carrying a credit card balance on them. It’s one thing if you charge $1,000 on your credit card, but you make $6,000 or $7,000 a month. But if you make $4,000 a month, then you’ll probably be carrying that credit card balance for quite a few months. But, let’s stop thinking about the numbers, and start thinking about what debt does to your life. It adds more stress to your life, more risk, and it takes some of the fun out of owning something when it’s financed. So, don’t suck all of the fun out of Christmas, and pay cash for your gifts! Here are ten ways that you can stay out of debt this Christmas and still finish your shopping list.
- Sell some stuff on craigslist or ebay to help fund your gifts fund
- Prioritize your gift list and put a set amount of money you will spend on each person.
- Get creative and make gifts for acquaintances like bosses, co-workers, your hair dresser, or children’s teachers.
- Perform a service to someone as your gift. If you have your own company, give someone a free session of whatever service you perform or give someone a free pass to go out while you watch their kids. People will love this stuff, because they know it’s genuine, thoughtful, and worth a lot of money when you think about how much your time is worth.
- Use your bonus to buy gifts. I’ll be doing this. We get a Christmas bonus every year at my work, and I always set the whole amount aside for gifts.
- Spend time with loved ones. Setting aside a weekend at the beach or in the mountains might be the best gift you could give to a best friend, parent, or sibling. Pick a time later in the year for you both to go away, that way you can save up for that event and not go into debt doing it. Or, you can just plan a day to spend with loved ones if they live closer to you.
- Avoid the pitfalls of Black Friday. You can shop on black friday, but be strategic. Don’t buy stuff you didn’t plan on buying
- Plan holiday events that are cost effective. If you do less expensive things with your family around the holidays, then you’ll have more time for gifts. Picnics and parties are great things to do that don’t cost much.
- Buy stuff online. Most online retailers are offering free shipping, and if you order early enough, you’ll get the packages just in time.
- Do a secret santa with best friends. Instead of buying something for every best friend, pick names out of a hat, and get one nice thing for each person.
Please remember that spending a ton of money on gifts just to look like a good gift giver is not the reason for the season. Your spirit and intention for giving to others is the secular reason for this season. Remember that as you wade through a sea of shoppers Come November 23rd.