Five Tips for a Debt Free Christmas

Five Tips for a Debt Free Christmas

Christmas 2017 was memorable for many Americans, but for more than 40 percent it was memorable because they went in to debt for an average of $1,054.1

What can we do to make Christmas “the most wonderful time of the year”? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Have a Plan. The first plan is a budget—and stick to it. The majority of Americans last Christmas didn’t stick to their budgets, with 74 percent saying they underestimated costs.2 You may find this budget form and a Master Gift List useful.

2. Online Shopping. Check online before shopping in-store. I’ve just Googled items in the past to check my options. However, there are numerous apps for this purpose. I found ScanLife (iOS, Android) user-friendly. Also, I just use my regular QR Reader. It gives price options and other information about the product.

3. Save. If you start right after Christmas and save $1 a day (or more, if you’d like), you will have a great head start on the upcoming holiday season with very little impact on your budget. You can also open a savings account specifically for the holidays and contribute to it year-round. And if you decided to go through your closets and sell stuff you no longer need, you can put that into your holiday account as well.

4. Ditch Santa Lists. I overheard a woman in a restaurant many years ago talking with her friend. She said, “I don’t allow my children to make lists for me. Christmas is about gifts. The giver chooses the gifts.” That made a huge impression on me. I stopped lists shortly afterward. Often, my husband and I give edible gifts that we know they really like but don’t always buy for themselves. Perfect size. No returns.

5. Use cash. Research tells us that people spend 18 percent more using credit cards than cash. While credit cards have some benefits, if you know you have a difficult time staying within a budget for the holidays, it’s best to use cash.

1 Taken from on September 6, 2018.

2 ibid.