Is a debt free Christmas possible? Absolutely! Planning is important because that will help you truly reach your goal of being debt free.
It is about that time of the year again. It is time for the holiday shopping frenzy to begin!
While you might think about everything you want to give to everyone else, why not think about what you want. I’m not talking about something under the tree. I am talking about a debt free Christmas!
Just imagine how wonderful it will feel NOT to have those bills coming in the mail in January. Wouldn’t that be the greatest gift for yourself? Here are things you can do.
1. Make a List
o start, make a list of those people you need to purchase gifts for. It should include absolutely everyone. Some people to keep in mind include:
- Family members: Spouse, children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws (and maybe out-laws).
- Friends: Church, social groups, PTA
- Service providers: Mail carrier, newspaper delivery, yard service, trash service, beautician, teachers, coaches.
- Anyone else who may not fit into these categories.
Don’t worry that your list may be too long, we will go over that in a little bit. This is your “in a perfect world” list.
2. Determine how much you can spend
Take a look at your savings. This will be every penny you’ve stocked away all year long, so you can pay for Christmas. Don’t forget any additional money you will save between now and December!
Don’t increase your budget to match your list. That is not wise. Instead, just determine how much you can afford to spend this year.
If you did not set money back this year, it is OK. Just start off doing so on January 1st, so you won’t be up against the same issues next Christmas.
3. Prioritize your list
Now, you will know exactly how much money you have to spend this year. Go back to Step 1 and grab the list of the people you need to buy for.
Create three new lists with the titles: Buy, Homemade, Skip. Review every name on your master list and move each them to one of the three lists you’ve created.
As you do this, you may realize there are people you purchase gifts for out of guilt. Instead of spending a lot of money, make them something instead.
If you see someone you really want to buy something for, but there is no room in the budget (or time to make something) a small handwritten note to them may work instead. Let them know how much you appreciate them and that you are thinking about them this holiday season. Most would rather have that anyhow.
4. Determine your budget per person
You now have two lists of gifts: buy and homemade. Next, you need to determine how much you want to spend on each person. Start with the total you want to spend.
Take a look at the homemade list and decide what you will make. It might be cookie mixes in jars, homemade fudge or something else. Try to find a way to make one item that can cover 4 or more people (to save yourself time and money). If you need inspiration, check out Pinterest for 100’s of homemade gift ideas.
Finally, look at the no gift list. Take time to make sure that these people are on your Christmas card list. That way, you are still remembering them during this time of the Make sure you include those people on your Christmas card list so that they are still included and remembered this time of the year.
5. Shop with cash. The best way to make your money work is to make sure you do not set yourself up for failure. Decide to use cash to pay for all of your gifts so that way, you do not overspend. In fact, it is impossible to overspend. If you set aside $25 for Uncle Joe’s gift and walk into the store with only that amount, there is no possible way you can spend more than you intend to.
Just always remember the reason for the season and don’t allow yourself to get caught up in the overspending frenzy. Trust me, come January, you will thank yourself!