The holidays are fast approaching and Christmas will be here in less than 8 weeks. If you haven’t already started shopping, you’ll probably start soon. But, many people get into debt during this holiday, with over 1 in 5 Americans bringing debt into the new year.
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There will be holiday parties, food to buy and prepare, travel expenses, store layaways for your gifts, and other expenses to consider.
It’s an exciting time, but it can put a huge strain on your wallet which can cause you to overspend. No one wants to start the New Year with holiday debt, so here are 3 ways to avoid going into debt this holiday season.
1. Plan Your Spending by Setting a Holiday Budget
It’s important to know how much you’re going to spend this year for the holiday. Map out your spending my listing who you will get gifts for an estimate for how much you will spend on each person.
Also consider other expenses like your holiday meal, the cost of travel if you’re going out of town, charitable donations etc. Do you need new decorations this year? Do you usually pay somebody to do your gift wrapping? Are there any annual traditions that cost money?
If you don’t set your own budget, you won’t know how much all these things should cost and when you’re overspending. Once you add everything up, you may come up with a number that is too high. In that case, you can either cut some expenses or move on to step 2.
2. Earn Some Extra Money
Since the holiday season is an expensive time, many people try to earn extra money in order to cover the added expenses. If you need $500 extra for the holidays this year, you can try to see if you can get more hours at your job, pick up a second job or establish a side hustle.
3. Say No When You Have To
Finally, you’ll need to feel comfortable with saying no sometimes. If you can’t afford something, don’t be afraid to decline the offer. If your kids are asking for something for Christmas that costs too much, set expectations and tell them you can save up to get it for them another time.
Leave your credit cards at home when you go shopping and stick to the budget you set even when things get tough and temptation kicks in.
Saying no to expensive things doesn’t mean you can’t still find a frugal option. If you can’t afford to buy gifts for everyone in the family, you can still organize a Secret Santa gift exchange so everyone can save money and still participate in the gift-giving process.
Don’t be afraid to voice your frugal alternatives to certain expenses because other people are trying to watch their spending as well and you never know who will want to jump on board.
Bottom line, the holidays should be all about celebrating, relaxing, and spending time with your loved ones. That doesn't mean you have to overspend.
These 3 steps will allow you to enjoy the holidays without added financial stress so you can start the new year off on the right foot.
How are you preparing your finances for the holiday season this year to avoid debt?