Have a Debt Free Holiday!newby.17 | November 20, 2010
If you are like a lot of Americans, January is the worst month for you. This is the time that all the credit card bills come in the mail for all the presents you bought in December. The glow of the holidays has worn off, all the presents have been opened and used and the reality of the debt slaps you in the face.
The good news is- it doesn’t have to be this way! You can start now to make a plan to remain free from holiday debt. Remember that this is not just about you. You are setting an example for your children and passing on your values about money. What does it say to them if you buy more than you can afford and then spend all January and February worrying about how you will pay for it? These are important tips for you, but they can also be important lessons to teach your children. Help them, and you, have a stress free beginning to the new year!
1. Make a budget. Sit down now, in November, and think about how much you can afford to spend. Keep in mind those last minute gifts for teachers, co-workers, or holiday parties. Include even the little things in your budget.
2. Plan ahead. Planning includes your budget, but you can also make a list of the people you need to buy for and some ideas for presents. This will give you a good way to map out your spending and go shopping with a plan! Be thoughtful about your gifts. Is this toy something that my child will really play with enough to justify the cost?
3. Start saving early. Hopefully you have already been working on this, but if you haven’t, START SAVING NOW! Use your budget to determine how much you will need to save from now until the holidays to be able to pay for the gifts you want to buy.
4. Be creative! Gifts do not always have to be things you buy from the store. If you are crafty, consider giving something that you make. Consider giving services or time– an hour of babysitting for your neighbor, or a special outing to your children. Sometimes these thoughtful gifts can mean even more than something you pick up at the store. This can also be a good gift idea for children to give. Encourage them to think about services they can give rather than material gifts.
5. Everything in moderation. When we are buying gifts, especially for those we love, it is so easy to go overboard. This is why it is important to think ahead of time of how much you have to spend and what you would like to give each person on your list. If you go to the store with a plan you are much less likely to go overboard.
6. Shop Online. There are many websites that can help you compare prices on any item you are purchasing. This allows you to “shop around” without having to do all the work. Remember to include shipping when considering an online purchase as this cost can vary a lot from site to site (some sites include free shipping).
7. Use Cash. Cash is a powerful visual. There is something that just feels different when you spend cash versus swiping a card. This feeling can help you not overspend. Also, if you go to the store with $100 cash to spend, it is impossible to spend more than $100. This is another way to keep track of how much you are spending. By using the cash that you saved for this purpose you will also save yourself from those credit card bills!
8. STICK TO YOUR PLAN. This is the key to being debt-free. Why invest all the time of making a plan if you do not have the discipline to stick to it! It can be tough, but it will all be worth it when you get to January stress-free!