While shopping in my local department store, I overheard a worried conversation in the checkout lane about Christmas spending. A sudden fear gripped me for a minute and I had to pull out my phone to check the date. Not even October, yet—phew.
And yet, the worry those two shoppers expressed is not uncommon, even this early in the year. Many people start their Christmas shopping as early as October, and some even earlier than that—and as much as I’d like to call them crazy, I can’t. Christmas shopping can be a real stress for a lot of people. The spirit of giving sometimes possesses us a little too enthusiastically, and we are left in a financial hole of debt come New Year’s.
But Christmas doesn’t have to be the money mess that it can be. This year, follow these tips to make Christmas the joyful season it is supposed to be, and to keep you out of debt this New Year’s and for many New Year’s after that.
Set A Budget
One of the most dangerous Christmas-time pitfalls is buying everything on all of your loved ones’ lists, without regard for the cost. As much as you want to please everyone, this isn’t a sound strategy. Before you go shopping this year, create a budget that limits your total spending, as well as your spending per person.
Stick To The Budget
Setting a budget is a great idea, but doesn’t do much good if you give in as soon as you hit the stores. Try to prioritize the gifts on each list and get the ones that are highest on the lists. Also remember that, cliché as it is, Christmas is not about gifts.
Avoid Using Credit
Credit is misleading because it makes you think you have more to spend that you actually do. If you can manage it, use debit or cash for all your Christmas purchases.
Silly as it may seem, starting your Christmas shopping early will help stagger the expenses, instead of just making them all at once. Furthermore, shopping early allows you to find great sales that otherwise you couldn’t find. (A good thing to remember: prices tend to go up during Christmas-time.)
Do Your Shopping Online
Doing your shopping online will keep you away from big Christmas crowds, and will probably also save you money, as many online vendors offer discounts. However, if you do shop online, definitely do it early, as shipping times will get increasingly longer as more and more people shop, and be extra careful with your money. You can’t use cash online, so use debit where you can, and pay off any credit charges you make as soon as possible.
If you follow these rules, you’ll be on your way to a merry Christmas, full of happiness, warmth, and all the other good feelings that go along with not being in debt.