The holiday shopping season is here and with it, its inevitable companion, debt! Who doesn’t overspend during the holidays? Does it make it any better if that overspending is to the benefit of another? We tell ourselves that it’s okay if our spending during the holidays is a little “out of control” if the end-result is a happy child, friend or family member AND we didn’t spend it on ourselves. But is this really healthy?
So what can you do? How do you give your loved ones that “Christmas to remember” without getting yourself into knee-deep debt in the New Year? Consider these 6 tips to debt proof your life this holiday season and start your holiday season out on a solvent foot.
1. Cut your spending: Seems simple enough. If you spent $2000 last year, try to spend $1000 this year.Â Not that easy to do though is it. Mom and dad must have that new top of the line juicer and who is going to buy little Johnny that PS4 if not you? Don’t consider eliminating the purchases all together, but if you can’t find a great comparison shopping deal on the items you’re looking for, then maybe something similar and cheaper may be the way to go. Buy mom and dad a mid-range juicer and get little Johnny a Nintendo Wii – it’s cheaper and the better system anyway.
2. Get organized: So how many presents do you really need? If you’re anything like me, I tend to always be surprised with unexpected gifts that need buying on a regular basis. Uncle Larry and his 4 kids are going to be visiting this year, no kidding? Learn from my mistakes. Make that list and check it twice – cut some people if you have to. Plan a budget and stick to it and find out now who is coming and what needs to be bought if anything. As for Larry and his 4 kids, consider a fruit cake or a popcorn variety mix can. That will work well within your budget.
3. Give an experience: Thing outside the box this holiday season. Give your loved ones the gift of time. Be creative and watch your holiday expenses plummet. Give mom and dad a weekend of your undivided attention (or if they are like my parents, offer to disappear for a week altogether). Take little Johnny to the zoo or plan a family holiday outing to the bowling alley. Get creative and slice your expenses in half and reduce your gift giving stress at the same time.
4. Save the Planet: Give the gift of humanity. Make a donation to a charitable cause in the name of your friends or families. Do you have kids who like animals (who doesn’t)? Then adopt an animal from the San Diego Zoo or any zoo in your local city. Donate as little as $35 and receive both a digital photo AND a snazzy adoption certificate. Want to do something on a global scale. Then consider donating money to feed a 3rd world child for a month or buy a goat for a needy rural family. Make a difference this holiday season and keep yourself out of debt at the same time.
5. Work that discount: If you can find it, you can probably find it discounted as well. Shop online if possible and remember, the closer you get to Christmas, the bigger the discount. As my wife will attest, I do not shop in the malls. If I can’t find it online (and already gift-wrapped for that matter) I don’t get it. Do some comparison shopping, check out bizrate.com or shopping.com before you pull that trigger. That may save you an additional 10-15% off the top and get you free shipping in the process. Finally, there is also that “no tax” thing with regards to internet shopping. If you live in CA and pay 8% like I do, this is a big savings motivator right there.
6. Don’t shop for Numero Uno: This is a tough one. You worked hard all year; don’t you deserve a little something in that stocking from Santa as well? Who’s going to buy you that new Bass boat or limited edition 1987 vintage Asteroids Arcade Standalone Game if you don’t? Unfortunately, if you want to stay out of debt this holiday season, the buck really does stop with you. Channel those funds back into the people on your gift list and let that good karma flow. Who knows, maybe that Bass boat is on someone else’s gift list for you?
We all want to give our families and friends the very best this holiday season. Doing so without going into debt though appears to be a problem that millions of us struggle with on a yearly basis. Following the above six tips may help limit your normal urge to overspend during this holiday season. It certainly couldn’t hurt.