It seems like Christmas sneaks up every year. We are playing around at the beach in August and all of a sudden, it’s time to start thinking about presents?! How do we possibly have a debt-free Christmas?
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So many American’s go into debt for Christmas presents. They don’t plan for it the whole year, and then use their credit cards like mad when black Friday comes around. I have always been of the mindset that if you don’t have the money for it, you can’t buy it. My parents always taught me that. It doesn’t matter how much you want something. If you do not have the money for it, then you must wait until you get the money.
Have a Debt-Free Christmas
So how does that work at Christmas? How can we buy gifts for all the special people in our lives and not go into debt?! I have 5 tricks to stay out of debt and spend less on Christmas shopping!
#1 – BUDGET BUDGET BUDGET!
The only way I have been able to buy gifts for 13 people every Christmas is because we put it in our budget. The first year B and I were married, Christmas came a couple months after our September wedding. We had no money to buy gifts for anyone. I was the only one working at the time because Brandon was still in school. We had just spent money on a wedding, an apartment, furniture, etc. I love buying gifts for people, and blessing them during the Christmas season. So I knew that could not happen again. I wanted to give people gifts!
So when making our budget, we calculated how much we could reasonably spend on each person. We came up with the number and added it all together. So for example, you want to spend $50 on each person. That equals $650 if you buy for 13 people. That’s a lot of money to come up with in between black Friday and Christmas if you aren’t prepared. But since we need $650, we divide it by 26 paychecks for the year. That’s only $25 a paycheck people! That is TOTALLY DOABLE! $25 a paycheck?! I couldn’t believe it.
So we stashed away $25 every 2 weeks and were able to spend $50 on each person at Christmas. I think that’s pretty reasonable. It’s obviously too late to do that at this point in the game. But I would encourage you to start in January and try it out! See how much you can save each paycheck. If you want to find ideas on making a budget, CLICK HERE and get a FREE budget template.
#2 – BE REASONABLE
You cannot buy gifts for every extended family member every year. It’s too much! If you are buying gifts for 45 people every Christmas, then you might be missing the point. How can you give good, thoughtful gifts to 45 people?! It’s just not reasonable. We love spending time with our extended family. But now that we are grown adults and lots of us are married, it’s too much to buy a gift for every aunt, uncle, cousin, and cousin twice-removed.
A good idea is to think about how much you would like to spend on each person, and how many people you really want to buy gifts for. Then calculate how much you can realistically save in a year. Some people may be able to save $100 a paycheck because they want to buy their kids and parents really nice gifts. Or they save $100 a paycheck because they have a lot of people to buy gifts for. Some people, like us, who are paying off debt and student loans, will only be able to save a little. Be reasonable with the amount. Think about the people who you can spend quality time with instead of getting a cheap gift that they don’t even want. Sometimes the best gift is the gift of time. Or COOKIES! Haha. Which are easy and cheaper to make.
#3 – DON’T FALL FOR BLACK FRIDAY
I think most Black Friday sales are a scam. I’ve been watching over the last few years at sales a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales, and the weeks before Christmas sales. Let me tell you…. I can get a better sale on Columbus Day weekend and Veteran’s Day weekend than I can on Black Friday. A lot of stuff that goes on sale on Black Friday is junk! It’s the TV that you would never buy yourself any other time of year. It’s the cheap toys that kids do not want that are door buster sales. Granted. I still like walking around the mall sometimes on Black Friday after the crowds because it’s fun. And I may buy a couple of things on Black Friday. (Definitely online!) BUT… Bath and Body Works has a really good sale usually 1-2 weeks before Thanksgiving. And it’s better than their Black Friday sale!
Most of the time, it depends on what you are shopping for that determines good or bad deals for Black Friday. Electronics will never be a good deal. Clothing might be a good thing to shop for. A lot of stores have good deals on clothing and things like that.
#4 – SHOP EARLY
This kind of goes along with not falling for Black Friday deals. There are almost NO deals after Black Friday. It’s like the store knows that you forgot to buy your wife a gift and you need something last minute! They mark up prices. And even if something is on sale, it’s probably the full price since they just marked it up! If you can try to find deals throughout the year instead of waiting until the last minute, it’s very beneficial. If you know your kids want a specific toy, then watch for it to go on sale. It may go on sale in August. Buy it then, and store it somewhere your kids won’t find it! Haha. They won’t usually be suspicious in August. My brothers and I got suspicious after Thanksgiving, once the tree was up.
I start watching sales probably around Columbus Day. I usually scour Pinterest to find ideas and start planning my gifts. If you have an idea of what gifts you want, then wait until they go on sale! If you start early enough, you can save a TON of money! I try really hard to never buy gifts unless they are on sale. That way I can get the most out of the $50 I spend on each person. I can get them more gifts if I get things cheaper! And I LOOOOVE a good deal!
#5 – SHOP ONLINE
I usually love going into the stores and browsing. But sometimes you just get better deals online! I will usually browse the stores and their ads. Then I will go to AMAZON.com! Amazon will usually save you a couple bucks on whatever you want to buy. I always try to at least look online to make sure there isn’t a better deal than in the store. It doesn’t always work. But a lot of the time, you can get better deals. I like to find books that I give as gifts on amazon. Amazon has new books at cheaper prices. For used books, I go to thriftbooks.com. They always have good deals. Click the link and get 15% off your first order!
So think about ways that you can save money this Christmas! Don’t go into debt next year for Christmas. Start now with a budget! Let’s make next Christmas special and not stressful!
Any other ideas on how to save money at Christmas? I would love to know! Comment below!