How to have a debt free Christmas in 7 easy steps.
Where has this year gone?
It seems like no matter how prepared I try to be for the holidays, they always manage to sneak up on me faster than I expect.
Is it just me, or does anyone else feel like we should still be in those warm summer months, basking in the warm air and sunshine?
Don’t get me wrong – I do love this time of year when the air has a chill and it’s time to drag out that big box of winter clothing, but it seems like every year is going by faster than the last, and sometimes all I want is for time to slow down a little.
But, since I can’t control how fast time goes, it’s time to start thinking about that holiday season that is quickly approaching.
Do you struggle with overspending during the holiday season?
With Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas back to back to back, this time of year can quickly become a very expensive one.
Whether it’s buying candy for Halloween, going grocery shopping for Thanksgiving dinner, or buying gifts for Christmas, it can all add up.
If you’re here, I’m willing to bet you don’t want to overspend this holiday season, and you want to have some spare money coming out of it.
A lot of the overspending tends to happen just before Christmas when it’s down to the last few days and you still have a long list of gifts and supplies that need to be bought.
When things get left until last minute we run out of time, and when we run out of time we tend to spend way more on certain items than we had budgeted for – just because we need them, and we need them now.
The average American family will spend just over $900 on Christmas gifts, so unless you are able to drop that kind of money on Christmas, here are 7 ways to have a debt free Christmas.
HOW TO HAVE A DEBT FREE CHRISTMAS IN 7 EASY STEPS
1. BUY GIFTS FAR IN ADVANCE
When it comes to buying Christmas gifts, it can be expensive enough to get something for everyone on your list. Never mind if you wait too long and end up having to pay more money for something just because it’s so close to Christmas.
Starting to buy gifts a few months before Christmas will give you plenty of time to watch for sales and get ideas of gifts you want to get for the people on your list.
Buying the gifts in advance will also help you not be quite so stressed out on those few days leading up to Christmas.
Rather than getting close to Christmas and remembering that you still have to buy gifts for several people, you’ll already have those gifts bought, wrapped, and ready to go.
2. MAKE YOUR OWN GIFTS
Starting your gift shopping far in advance also gives you time to make your own presents as a cheap alternative to buying gifts. If you do decide to make your own presents, be sure that it truly is cheaper than buying the item from a store (some DIY projects can get quite pricey and actually end up costing you more than what it would have to just buy it from the store), and also make sure that you have enough time to complete the project.
The few days before Christmas are already busy enough with getting everything organized and ready for guests, never mind having a DIY project on your hands that also has to be finished.
To ensure you won’t run out of time if you’re making your own gifts, look at the directions of the project and approximately how long it suggests the project will take to make, then triple that number (at least), to give yourself lots of spare time to get it done, because we all know DIY projects don’t always go as planned, and sometimes they look nothing like they are supposed to.
Give yourself lots of time to fix any mistakes that may get made.
3. MAKE A CHRISTMAS BUDGET
Whether or not you already have a normal monthly budget, you should most certainly have a Christmas budget.
It’s all too easy to spend more money than you have if you don’t know how much money you have to spend.
You still with me?
While I am a huge advocate of budgeting, and I strongly believe everyone should create and have a budget, I realize that not everyone does. And that’s okay. But if you are here and you are serious about having a debt free Christmas, having a Christmas budget should not be optional.
A budget will help you figure out exactly how much money you can spend on all things Christmas this year, while still being able to pay your monthly bills and put money away in your savings account.
That sounds a whole lot more inviting than having a Christmas where your bank account sinks down to the negative numbers, doesn’t it?
When you create your Christmas budget, you can either just figure out how much you have as a whole to spend on all things Christmas, or you can break it down even further (what I recommend you do) so you know exactly how much money you have to spend on Christmas dinner, Christmas gifts, Christmas decorations, and more.
If you really want to commit to this (yes. yes you do want to) then I suggest you go as far as, once you’ve made your Christmas budget, going to the bank and taking out exactly how much money you have to spend on Christmas in cash.
This way, anything you buy that is for Christmas, you make sure you buy with cash, and you can ENSURE you will not go over your Christmas budget (because when you run out of money, you’re out. Then it’s time to get really creative).
How to create a Christmas budget
When creating a Christmas budget, many people like to start with the gifts they want to buy, add it all up, then say “okay, I need this much money to cover my gift expenses this month”, which is an okay way to do it – as long as you are sure you have as much money as you need and that you won’t be going into debt to buy all the gifts.
My preferred way to make a Christmas budget is to write down our monthly income, all of it, then write down our monthly expenses, all of them, these are your expenses that recur every month like groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, giving, savings, and any others monthly expenses like those.
Take your total income for the month and minus off your total expenses for the month, then look at how much you have left over. If your number is already in the minuses, that’s no good, but it’s fixable.
If you have less money coming in every month than you do going out, the easiest and quickest way to fix that problem is to cut costs immediately. Look over your budget and get rid of any expenses that are not absolutely necessary. Another way to cover all your costs is to start a side hustle or sell your clutter.
Once you have taken your monthly expenses off of your monthly income, take the number you have left and put that money towards your miscellaneous expenses, including Christmas gifts. This would also be your “Christmas fund”.
When you have found out how much money you have available to spend per month on Christmas gifts, you can then decide if you are going to pinch pennies and scour stores for their best sales to get good Christmas gifts for cheap, or if you are going to find extra money in your budget to put towards your Christmas fund.
To find extra money in your budget, you can decide to take X amount of dollars from your clothing category, or you could decide to cut a certain expense completely out of your budget for the next few months (or for good), then put that money towards your Christmas fund.
Creating and following a Christmas budget might seem like a lot of work, but it will be worth it when Christmas is over and you’re entering the new year with money in your bank account, rather than debt piling up.
4. HAVE A POTLUCK CHRISTMAS DINNER
If you are in charge of organizing Christmas dinner with your friends and family, a smart way to bring costs down is to do a potluck style Christmas dinner.
There is no shame in asking everyone to bring a dish to dinner. In fact, I’m sure many of them will be honored and excited to get to show off their most famous meal.
It’s no secret that groceries.are.expensive and they just keep getting more expensive over the years. So what if you can’t afford to provide all the food for everyone? It’s the perfect opportunity to get everyone to chip in.
Not only will doing this lighten your grocery bill, but it will also significantly lighten your workload (and dish load).
Ask people that are attending dinner to each bring a salad, side, or dessert, or designate something to each person so you can be sure you’re not going to end up with 15 desserts and no side dishes or salads for supper.
Doing a potluck dinner is one of my favorite ways to take a load of stress off of myself (I was not created to be a host) and get to try a bunch of different dishes at the same time.
5. DO A CHRISTMAS GIFT EXCHANGE
It seems like Christmas is becoming all about the gifts, and less about what it’s really about…celebrating the birth of our Savior.
A fun and creative way to (hopefully) help everyone remember the real meaning of Christmas rather than getting wrapped up in the presents, and lower your giant Christmas bill, is to have a Christmas gift exchange rather than buying gifts for each individual person.
Christmas gift exchanges are a lot of fun and a great way to get some laughs. Set a price limit and have everyone go out and buy something they think people would like, or not like, wrap it up, and when Christmas comes put all the gifts together in a pile on the living room floor.
The fun part is not knowing who brought which gift – then choose the order picking gifts will go in (you can do this by having everyone pick a number out of a basket, or there are many other options and games to pick the order) and have a blast.
6. HOST CHRISTMAS AT YOUR HOUSE
Many families make a long drive or flight to go see their families during the holiday season. Plane tickets around Christmas can be incredibly pricey, and driving long distances isn’t always a much cheaper option when gas prices are high.
Rather than going away to someone else’s house this year, offer to host Christmas at your home and have your family all come to you.
Mixing up where Christmas is spent each year can be a fun way to get to experience the holiday season in everyone’s houses and towns over the years.
7. REPURPOSE OLD GIFTS
Have you ever got given a gift that may have just ended up in the back of a closet never being used? If so, ask yourself if there is anyone in your life who would appreciate and use the gift, since you haven’t.
If there is someone who would love this gift, regift it to them for Christmas.
Are you willing to sacrifice some things to stay out of debt this Christmas?
These are just a few of the many, many ways to have a debt free Christmas and save some money. Christmas shouldn’t break the bank – get creative when it comes to all things Christmas to find cheap alternatives.
What are your favorite ways to save money and have a debt free Christmas? I’d love to hear them!
Intentional Christmas Series
I have collaborated with a few other power bloggers in an Intentional Christmas series where we want to help you create a beautiful, intentional Christmas. Here are all the other articles, written by other passionate blogger friends of mine that will help you have a special Christmas! The kind that is full of unforgettable memories.
5 Senses Gift for Him (the perfect gift for the man in your life)
Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies (the best Christmas cookie recipe)
66 Cheap Stocking Stuffers for Everyone on Your List
How to do Christmas on a Budget in 14 Painless Steps
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12