Have a Debt Free Christmas This Year

We can all relate to how frustrating it can be to start a new year with last year’s Christmas bills.  With Christmas being only a few more weeks away, we can be prepared for shopping season by planning ahead and creating a budget to work off of.

Here are a few tips to help you stay within your budget this Christmas:

  1. Create a Budget – if you shop without a list, it is easy to overspend or give in to impulse shopping.  Download our Holiday Gift Giving Planner that can help you get organized.
  2. Comparison Shop – starting Christmas shopping early also means you have more time to shop around and check prices at different stores.  Many online stores offer discounted prices or one day only sales.
  3. DIY Gifts- there are many gifts that you can make to give as gifts that won’t break your budget. You can tailor the gifts to the person you’re making it for – all the more thoughtful!

Careful planning can help you debt free – you just need to invest some time now to get organized.

Christmas Shopping on a Budget

With Christmas just a few weeks away, we have abruptly entered the “shopping season” that special time when you look at all the people on your Christmas list and compare them to the amount of money you have available. It’s time to create a budget and stick to it. The following ideas will help:

Comparison shop: Check prices at different stores, and don’t forget the online stores. Many online stores have great prices, but be sure to figure in any shipping costs in the total price of your gifts.

Making a list, checking it twice: Christmas shop in the same way that you grocery shop: create a list and stick to it. If you shop without a list it’s too easy to get caught up in the hype and you’ll buy items you hadn’t planned for compromising your budget. Download our handy holiday gift budget planner to help you get organized.

Plan a “homemade” Christmas: instead of buying the fancy cookies this year, buy the ingredients and make your own. Homemade goodies generally taste better and are less expensive than store-bought varieties. But, don’t stop with just baking. There are hundreds of things that you can make to give as gifts that won’t break your budget.

Time: Elderly persons would love to receive a gift card stating you will clean their house for them once a month (or once a week), while a young couple with children would consider free baby-sitting services for an evening (or weekend!) away, to be an extra special treat.

Bartering: Basically, you offer a product or service to someone who offers a product or service that a person on your gift list would enjoy. For example, your mother gets her hair done on a weekly basis. You could barter a certain number of up-do’s for a couple oil-changes.

With careful planning, you will be able to provide gifts for everyone on your list this year without breaking your budget.

Holiday Gift Budget Planner

Knowing how much money you have for shopping is one thing, being able to allocate where that money goes, when contemplating your holiday shopping is something else. That’s where a planner can help.

Start with a general statement of how much money you will spend. Or rather your limit, such as: “I will spend NO MORE than _____________ amount of money on Christmas.” Then you may want to allot different amounts of money for different categories such as gifts, food, decorations, other entertainment, etc.

Once you’ve decided how much you will spend on gifts you can create a list of gift recipients.
This can be tricky; do you give a gift to each person in your sister’s family or do you give a “family” gift? Or, maybe you give a “group” gift just to the kids and individual gifts to the adults. Whatever you decide, while taking your budget into consideration, it’s a good idea to write it down so you don’t get side-tracked while shopping.

Once you’ve decided the “who” on your gift list, you need to decide the “what.” Here’s where you pull out that hidden wish list you’ve written on every time you’ve heard someone say they “like” something or “want” something—right? The ongoing list notwithstanding, you’ll need to brainstorm ideas and maybe come right out and ask your gift recipients what they would like.

Then it’s on to the “where” can these items be found. List stores and their locations; don’t forget online options and the actual shopping begins.

You might also want to include on your Planner a space to write where the items you have bought are “hidden.” This is especially important if you tend to shop for gifts all year. You don’t want to forget where that special gift is stored and buy duplicate items in December.

Feel free to download and use our Holiday Gift Budget Planner. Keeping lists of recipients and ideas together will make your Christmas shopping easier, fun and budget “friendly.”