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How to Avoid Debt During the Holiday Season

Author: Financial Success | Image: Financial Success

We haven’t even had a chance to indulge in traditional Thanksgiving turkey and stuffing, but with the holidays fast approaching, many are gearing up for their holiday shopping. Hello, Black Friday deals?! Between decorations, gifts, and other expenses, the holidays can take a toll on a person’s finances if they don’t plan carefully. Overspending may leave you feeling like a Grinch long after December 25th! Avoid debt troubles this holiday season by keeping these smart budgeting tips in mind:

1. Monitor your discretionary income and keep the personal spending low. Your holiday budget should be determined by how much money you have left over after paying all of your other monthly priorities, like bills, rent, and savings. Review your budget to determine exactly how much you will be able to spend on extras. It’s tempting to buy something for yourself too while holiday shopping but try to resist the urge! You can always add it to your own Christmas list.

2. If your holiday budget is lacking, consider selling things on Craigslist or Ebay. It’s easy to forget saving for the holidays in advance, along with the other commitments we have throughout the year. Selling some of your belongings for cash is a great way to supplement that gift fund. Take advantage of this opportunity to do a little house cleaning!

3. Draft a budget for each person on your list. As listed above, the first step is to always analyze your cash accounts and see how much you can afford to spend this holiday. This will help create your spending plan for each person. We love setting price limits on gifts. It’s a great way to keep the monetary value consistent, and prevents the feeling of being “out gifted” during gift exchanges.

4. Comparison shop online. With Cyber Monday fast approaching, don’t forget to price check before you commit to buying. You may find that certain household appliances and other goods are usually listed much cheaper on Amazon. However, be careful not to blow your budget by paying for shipping. Look for the deals that offer free shipping before racking up that shopping cart!

5. Don’t rely on credit cards. Yes, the meaning behind this post is how to not go into debt during the Holiday season, right? Well let’s get right to the point. Buying gifts on credit will end up costing you more in the long run, no ifs, ands or butts about it! It’s all because of a sneaky thing called interest. Add in months of finance charges and you’ll ultimately pay more for your gifts than you would if you used cash. Credit cards have a tendency to feel “limitless” and those without self-control may find it easy to overspend. If this sounds like you, refer to all of the above points! Implementing a savings plan into your budget ahead of time for your holiday gifts can make all the difference. If you do use your credit card during the holidays, be sure to have a plan in place to pay off the balance in a timely manner.

6. DIY while there’s still time. Some of the most meaningful gifts are homemade gifts. They’re not expensive, but certainly can take time. If you have a crafty talent or hobby, such as knitting or scrapbooking, you could create gifts for a least a few of the people on your list. These gifts are more likely to show how much you care and are more personable! Foster your inner Pinterest-ey spirit 🙂

7. Remember the Reason for the Season. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, keeping the holiday’s spiritual message front and center is a good antidote for the holiday gimmies. It’s the holiday memories your loved ones are going to remember the most, not that fancy gift. It is a time for us to spend with our families and to be thankful for all we have been given!