Top Tips to Avoid Crippling Christmas Debt

Tue, Nov 27, 2012

Budgeting, Financial Advice

For many of us, the holidays are the most expensive time of the year. Dining out, entertaining guests, gift shopping, and the hundred other unexpected expenses that inevitably arise during Christmastime can spell economic disaster for anyone. Worst of all, over-spending in December means starting the New Year with an empty bank account and a heavy burden of debt. Fortunately, there are many money-saving techniques you can use to escape the holidays without breaking the bank. Here’s how to survive Christmas debt-free:

Planning is Essential

The most important way to save during the holidays is to simply put together a careful budget. Figure out what you can afford to spend, make a list of the necessities, and keep track of your expenses. The little things add up fast, so keeping tabs on every pound spent is a great way to avoid unexpected debt.

The Web is a Budget Hunter’s Best Friend

There are countless great deals to be found online. Between auction sites like Ebay and Craigslist, voucher sites and the myriad sales and promotions being offered you can make some massive savings. Shopping online also helps you compare prices, save time, and avoid the expense of petrol.

Be Aware of Buy Now Pay Later Schemes

There are many companies offering buy now pay later deals. This is extremely enticing, but you are only pushing your debts into the future, you still need to be able to pay for the goods your purchase, so make sure you don’t line yourself up for trouble in the future. It’s better to start a new year financially stable.

This advice also relates to pay day loans. Taking out short term loans to purchase presents is a terrible idea. The interest is huge, and you will only set yourself up for debt. If you are struggling to find the money for gifts, then step back and analyze your options, could you make gifts, find them second hand or buy second hand and alter them or up cycle? Or is it simply best to be honest with your friends and family and suggest other more affordable gift ideas as a group such as secret Santa? This means purchasing one gift and it can also be quite a fun idea.

The Early Bird

By doing your shopping gradually over the course of the year, you can capitalize on seasonal deals and help eliminate the heavy strain of the holiday season. Start stockpiling those presents early, and you will thank yourself when Christmas arrives.

Image: Annette

Get Creative

You don’t always have to buy presents, make them. Not only will you save money, you will also give something much more personal and intimate. Turn your favorite hobby or craft activity into a boost for your holiday budget. Consider things like framed photos, handmade jewelry, personalized stationary, and home-baked sweets. Even if you aren’t especially artistic, you can find tons of easy tutorials online for making great gifts.

Another idea is to make your own vouchers; perhaps you can offer a day of babysitting, gardening services, or house cleaning to friends and family who lack the skills or time.

Don’t Indulge

Probably the hardest part of sticking to a holiday budget is dealing with the enormous pressure of seasonal indulgence. Advertisers and retail stores use every strategy they can come up with to tantalize you into making spontaneous purchases. Don’t do it! Stick to your budget and overcome those temptations.

Holiday budgeting doesn’t mean making major sacrifices. Ultimately, it is about practicing self-control, keeping the big picture in perspective, and making responsible choices. People completely understand that money can be tight, and many would prefer your company or a thoughtful token than watching you struggle with debt in order to purchase gifts. Remember, the holidays aren’t about spending money; they are about spending time with friends and loved ones. Fortunately, the latter is free.

Kirsten is a writer for Voucher Cloud, she loves everything about money saving and finding good deals.

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