How to have a debt free Christmas

I don’t mean to alarm you, but it’s now less than 3 months until Christmas…
Christmas is one of those expensive times of the year, that often leaves many of us entering the new year with baggage in the form of debt. This year can be different, and debt free (creating no additional debt), if you follow some of my tips below.

Make your list…and check it twice

Santa makes a list and so should you. Keeping a list will help you stay organised and also helps when it comes to working out your Christmas budget. When working out your gift budget consider each person in your life that you may be buying for. This could include:

  • Parents and Grandparents
  • Your children
  • Nieces and Nephews
  • Friends
  • Colleagues
  • Your children’s teachers
  • Pets

You’ll also need to gather a list of other supplies and considerations. This will vary depending on your plans and whether you need to travel or not. Things that could be included are:

  • Decorations (tree decorations, lights, home decor)
  • Wrapping items (paper, scissors, tape, ribbon)
  • Cards & gift tags
  • Postage fees for presents or cards
  • Groceries for your Christmas meal (drinks, food etc)
  • Travel (fuel, plane tickets, accommodation)

Shop the sales

A good way to save money at Christmas is to start your shopping early and shop the sales when they’re on. Even if you’re shopping later in the year (like now), it pays to check several stores before buying an item. Don’t just assume one place is the cheapest. You can also ask stores to price match or offer a discount. This won’t work in all stores but it doesn’t hurt to try. The worst they can say is no…
To save yourself lots of driving around, use google to search items you are considering, so that you can compare prices before you get to the shops.

When shopping online, consider using a service like Shopback or Cashrewards to save money on your purchases. These sites allow you to receive a % of your purchase back, meaning you get some of your money back later. Honey is a service which scours the internet to find discount codes and automatically fills them in for you, so that you get the best deals.

Get creative

Sometimes the best gifts are the ones you make yourself. If you’re stuck for an idea search Pinterest. It could be as simple as baking a festive treat, making some bath salts, potting a special plant or even putting together a gift basket. If you’ve got children get them involved with creating cards and gift wrap.

Have a minimal Christmas

We all know that Christmas can be a time of ‘plenty’. We’ve seen the stories of children with piles of presents and we’ve all felt the pressure of trying to find the ‘perfect gift’ and the guilt that goes along with feeling like we haven’t bought ‘enough’.

How about this year we try and have a more ‘minimal’ Christmas? Christmas doesn’t have to be about abundance and material items. After all isn’t Christmas about spending time with those we love?

When shopping for children it can be hard to limit yourself. Children don’t always understand the value of money and how much things can cost, let alone the impact our materialistic society has on our planet.
For children you might want to start small and employ the strategy of 4 gifts which include:

  • Something they want
  • Something they need
  • Something to wear
  • Something to read

For adults, another idea is to gift ‘experiences’ rather than ‘things’. This could be tickets to the movies, an adrenaline experience, admission to theme parks etc. Use sites like Groupon to find great deals in your area.

In my family we do ‘Secret Santa/Kris Kringle’ for the adults and have a limit of $50. This means that we only have to buy for one adult and the children. Limiting the amount of people we buy for saves us all a lot of money.

Make do with what you already own

When it comes to decor or even items like your Christmas tree and tree decorations, see if you can make do with what you’ve already got. If your tree isn’t broken or damaged, what’s the point in buying a new one?

Save yourself the money (and save goods from going into landfill) by using what you already have and limiting purchases of new items. Don’t get caught up in the hype of having to buy something new every year.

Start saving now

One of the keys to having a debt free Christmas, is to plan ahead and start putting aside some savings as soon as possible. The earlier, the better!

Once you know your Christmas budget, plan ahead and work out how much you need to put away. As a guide, if you’re looking to spend around $1,000 then you’ll need to set aside approx $83/week. You can adjust this figure depending on how often you get paid and how many pay days you have left until the big day.

I’d love to hear from you!
– What are some of your tips for saving money this Christmas?
– What have you done in the past that’s worked?
– What’s your budget this Christmas?

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