HOW TO AVOID HOLIDAY DEBT

Have you ever stayed up really late on a night where you had to wake up early the next day? Did you totally regret it? Maybe it was fun in the moment (sometimes it’s not even that fun in the moment!) but didn’t you fully regret it the next day when you had to wake up at the crack of dawn? To me that is exactly how it feels to overspend during the holiday season. It’s kind of fun in the moment, getting caught up in all the festivities and just choosing not to worry about your finances. But then after the holidays are over, you have to live with the consequences of your choices and somehow deal with all of that overspending. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could avoid that holiday hang over to begin with?? You can celebrate the holidays to the FULLEST without going into debt. I promise! Here’s how .

HOW TO AVOID HOLIDAY DEBT

SET A BUDGET (AND STICK TO IT!)

I think the best and easiest way to avoid holiday debt, unsurprisingly, is to create a budget and then stick to it. If you’ve had trouble creating and sticking to a budget in the past, make sure you download our FREE Debt Payoff Starter Kit, where it teaches you how to start this process. [Related: How to Create a Budget That Actually Works]. One thing I like to do is grab a Visa Gift Card, load it with however much money I have budgeted for Christmas, and then I’m forced to stick to my budget! Some people like to use cash for the same purpose. (I personally find cash too germy for my own personal use). 😉

SHOP SALES

Another great way to avoid holiday debt is to make sure you are shopping sales (and to make sure those “sales” are actually good deals. So compare prices between stores, and wait for the best sales to make your purchases!

EARN CASH BACK 

Did you know you can earn cash back for all kinds of holiday shopping? Not only for the gifts you intend to buy, but for food and holiday decorations. My favorite cash back website is Ebates. My favorite web browser extension is Honey (it automatically enters the best coupon/promo codes at check out when you shop online). And my favorite app is Ibotta. Read more about how to use them here.

GIVE YOURSELF A DEADLINE

Giving yourself a deadline of when your holiday shopping must end will help you avoid holiday debt. For example, I always say that by December 15, I won’t buy any more Christmas gifts. Otherwise, every year without fail, as Christmas gets closer I feel like I haven’t done enough and I go out and buy more unnecessary things/gifts! It’s just too tempting. But when I give myself a hard cut off, it is so much easier to avoid falling into that trap.

GIVE MEANINGFUL GIFTS

The older I get, the more joy I find in meaningful gifts. I care a lot less about cute clothes or the coolest techy things coming out than things that will last me for years to come or that otherwise have deep meaning, like last year, Danny bought me this $15 necklace with his and M’s initials that I wear every day! Meaningful does not mean expensive, but rather, something that you have put time and effort into, such as writing a loved one a love note, making a photo calendar, etc.

POTLUCK HOLIDAY MEALS

Another way to avoid holiday debt is to potluck your holiday meals. Hosting lots of holiday gatherings can get expensive really quick, but if you delegate out some of the work, you’ll save money.

DON’T TRAVEL (OR BOOK IN ADVANCE USING CREDIT CARD REWARDS)

The holidays are the most expensive time to travel. Not only that, but it’s also the busiest time to travel and you can basically count on experiencing bad weather, meaning flight delays, etc. Plus, people tend to be sicker this time of year, meaning you’re more likely to encounter nasty germs and fall sick! That’s why waiting to travel during a non peak time (even one or two weeks after Christmas) will help you steer clear of holiday debt. Sometimes not traveling is simply not an option, and if that’s the case, make sure you book your flights about 50 days in advance since that is when flights are generally the cheapest. Another idea would be to save up your credit card rewards points to travel during the holiday season, but you’ll likely have to be a little more flexible with your dates since that is a peak travel time.

INCREASE YOUR INCOME

Another great way to avoid holiday debt is to make a little extra money that you can stash away for Christmas purchases. There are tons of things you can do. Literally just this week I took 5 surveys using a website called Capterra. I reviewed some Google and Microsoft products that I routinely use (like Google Docs). It took me less than ten minutes to complete ALL 5 surveys– and I earned $10 per survey, which I cashed in for an Amazon gift card, which I’ll use on Black Friday (because I’m shopping sales… see above) to buy my son a few Christmas presents.

Some other ideas: you could take a part time job in the evenings or early mornings, sell things around the house that you are no longer using,

PLAN AHEAD

The key to not overspending during the holidays is to plan ahead. That means you’ll need to know who you are buying gifts for, what events/festivities you will host or attend, and what you need to purchase. Plan your budget, make a shopping list, and go to town! It’s not that you don’t have to spend ANY money at Christmas, it’s just that you want to live within your means and not overspend and go into debt over it.

What are some things you’ve done to avoid holiday debt? Comment below. 

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