Christmas. Great time of year. One of my favourites. Except (and it’s a big except) that it tends to leave me feeling great in spirit and further in debt.
Relying on plastic to see us through the holiday season may the time-honoured approach, but that doesn’t make it the right one. Here are a couple of tips to make your Christmas a merry one, through and through. Cheer, love and no extra debt.
The Gift List
2nd cousins to not need to make your Christmas present list, unless they are people you regularly hang out with and love dearly. People you work with can probably make do with homemade cookies. Write out a present list of the people you really want to give presents to this year. Try and make it an obligation-free zone.
Once listed, put the amount you feel like you can spend next to each person’s name. Think frugally. Think creatively. The quality of the gift is not going to make or break a friendship and if it does, you are better of without them.
Revise the Gift List
Once the Gift List has been written and budgeted, add up the final figure. Shocking right? These are the things we do without thinking, and is one of the main reasons we get into debt. We never think about totals. Now revise the list. The people on it, the amount you are spending. Revise the list until the final number is somewhere below the amount you have saved in cash. Hard calls will be have to be made until this is done.
Think about making cookies, or photo frames, until the number at the bottom of your page is something achievable and will not require any plastic.
Reduce And Conserve
To avoid the plastic-fantastic dilemma, cut your spending somewhere else. Don’t use your car for a month, and use the savings as a Christmas budget. Spend some extra time hunting out bargains, and avoid buying yourself a present every time you buy someone else one. If you really want to keep your debt from exploding this Christmas, whatever you do, do not get involved in sales. Even if it’s an unbelievable bargain, if you can’t pay cash, don’t pay at all.
Christmas tends to snowball into something that involves a lot of guilt and status. This year, instead of increasing your credit limit to accommodate your expenses, why not just be honest about what you can afford? Don’t try and compete, just do what you can do. Chances are, everyone around you will be grateful too, that the mounting Christmas insanity is lessened for once. Everyone else might be thinking the same thing and just need someone to say it.
Plan For Next Year
Stave off the anxiety that hits at the start of every Christmas season by budgeting for it throughout the year. This won’t help anyone now (the year being at the guts of November already) but think ahead for next year. How much do you want to spend, and is it achievable to keep to that number? Then divide it by 12. At the start of every month, set aside that amount. By the time Christmas hits, you’ll be able to spend it fruitfully, not in a plastic-tinged anxiety.