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 of everyone you want to give something to. This 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. To help you create your list, grab our free Christmas Planning forms.
2. Determine how much you can spend. This is when you look at what you’ve saved all year long. It might even include the amount you know you can set back between now and Christmas.
As we talk budgets, one thing that we discuss is saving for Christmas all year long. That way, the money is set back and you never have to rack up credit card debt in order to purchase gifts.
Don’t increase your budget to match your list. That is not wise. Instead, just determine how much you can actually afford to spend this year.
3. Prioritize your list. Now that you know how much you have available to spend, go back through your list from Step 1.
Break this list down into three different lists: Buy, homemade, no gift. List each person under the new list. Instead of removing them from the buy list, move them to your homemade list instead. You might even realize that you buy a gift out of guilt only. Perhaps that person can move to your homemade list instead.
You might even just send some people a hand written note instead of a gift. For most people, just thinking of them is all that matters.
4. Determine your budget per person. Now that you have your new lists, determine the budget. You might want to spend $25 on your grandmother and then $75 on your spouse. Make sure that the budget by person totals the amount you have budgeted — and no more!
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!