Michelle’s 7 Steps to Enjoying the Holiday Season Debt-Free
The time of giving is also the time for extreme budgeting to meet everyone’s expectations.
If I told you that Christmukkah is almost at the door, would you freak out? Don’t pull out your credit card yet – there’s still plenty of time to plan a debt-free holiday season 2016!
I’m in the process of paying off debt, and I absolutely love giving gifts. The reality is that I’m on a budget and have decided that I can only give so much. Because of this, I’ve spent some time setting clear expectations with my family and friends about what to expect from me this year.
The conversation doesn’t have to be too heavy. Use some humor and just be honest about what you can and cannot do.
LET THEM OFF THE GIFT-GIVING HOOK, TOO, AND SHARE IDEAS ON GIFT GIVING THAT WILL MAKE (ALMOST) EVERYONE HAPPY.
Sometimes people are made to feel uncomfortable with their generosity. You can let people be generous, but lift the pressure off of them by suggesting the following: homemade gifts, white elephant party, or even a no-gift holiday season. Spend more time with your friends – throw a potluck, a game night, or run in a Turkey Trot event.
Set a Budget
If you’re unable to change other people’s minds about gift giving this holiday season, then be clear with yourself about what you can and cannot do financially. Take a close look at your budget and set a giving budget and stick to your plan.
If you have 12 people who you normally purchase gifts for, maybe this is the year that you make the gifts for the older recipients and friends and continue to purchase items for the younger relatives and family friends.
Check Your Inbox
This one may seem a little random on the surface, but did you receive: rebates, refund codes, or gift certificates that were emailed to you and that you haven’t had a chance to use yet?
I was emailed a voucher from an airline, and I almost forgot about it because it was buried in my inbox. I may put that voucher toward a plane ticket purchase for my mom’s holiday gift. That voucher is for a low-cost carrier, so it will drastically cut down the price.
It’s amazing how many deals you can find via social media from your favorite retailer at this time of year. I’ve already noticed that the bike I would like to purchase is on sale.
LOOK ON FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, OR ON YOUR FAVORITE RETAILER’S WEBSITE FOR COUPON CODES OR UPCOMING SALES.
Don’t pay full-price for your items.
Trim the Fat
How long has it been since you took a good look at your monthly expenses? Look for monthly subscriptions that you aren’t using, monthly services that you don’t like, or automatic debits for forgotten bills or purchases.
Did you discover that your grocery, electric, and fun budget line-items have increased significantly since the last time you took a hard look at your expenses? Have you been meaning to download that great grocery app that everyone has been talking about, but keep forgetting?
Sock away as much of your freed up cash as possible so that you can use cash for your future purchases. The holiday season is fast approaching, but there is no reason to go into debt.
Ebates works like this: create your profile, and then each time you plan to make an online purchase from one of your favorite stores, just log into Ebates and type in your favorite retailer’s name. Another window will open up on your computer and you will begin shopping. Don’t worry if it’s your first time shopping with that retailer. A cookie is created when you go from Ebates to your favorite retailer.
Go through your home and look for items that you’re no longer using. If they are in good condition, sell them online! Use eBay or Craigslist, or throw a garage sale. if you’re in a warm-weather state.
Caution: if you sell on Craigslist, meet at a police station safe zone to exchange the items. Google “Craigslist Safe Zone” and add the name of your town to find the best station to meet at.
The holiday season is fast approaching, but there is no reason to go into debt. Spend some time creating a plan, looking for savings opportunities, and setting clear expectations with family and friends about what they can reasonably expect from you this year.