Kelly Blodgett launched Money Gal Coaching with a goal of serving people who, like her, were burdened by debt. You can get her tips for paying down debt on a regular basis at Bring Me The News, in addition to the Money Gal Coaching website and Facebook page. Here is her latest story:
I am not sure about you but how the heck is it Thanksgiving week with Christmas just around the corner? It’s really easy to have it sneak up on us which is why I encourage clients (and everyone I speak to) to save for larger items like the holidays year round.
Thanksgiving is so much more fun when we don’t have to follow our normal grocery budget and Christmas can be a little more jolly when we aren’t worrying about credit card debt come January. Here are four tips to avoid going into debt during the holidays.
Calculate what you can truly afford to spend
We are going to start off with a free tool because it helps so much! When I started budgeting I needed something to break down the scary task of “saving for Christmas” into a realistic, manageable number. This tool will help you answer all your questions like “how much do I need to save each month?” or “how much do I have to spend on gifts?"
Following a spending plan, or a budget, is so much easier when we have actual numbers that were created based on what we truly want. So if gifts is your love language, boost spending in that area of your Christmas budget a bit. Maybe you have the best cookie trays and it requires multiple (spendy!) trips to the grocery store, you can choose to add money there instead.
Create your gift list
When we open that Amazon browser, the sky is the limit and it’s easy to overspend. Does your spouse actually want another wireless speaker? When we write out specific gifts for specific people not only does it make shopping easier, but we can search around for deals.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t need to buy a present for everyone you know. For some people a simple hug and a Merry Christmas is enough. Maybe you grab a bottle of wine that you haven’t opened yet from the cabinet or write a handmade note that says “drinks on us” for a future date. Get creative and remember that gifts don’t always have to come from a big retailer.
Reduce regular spending in your budget
The best part about the holidays is that spending in other areas of our lives tends to be reduced because the holidays consume so much of our time. I know for us we don’t need nearly as much money for restaurants because we have holiday parties budgeted for already and we tend to go out so much that a night in sometimes is a real treat.
Another way you can save in your budget is with clothing. If you are really looking for something add it to your wishlist or buy it for yourself out of your Christmas budget.
I know this may seem a little bit like robbing Peter to pay Paul but if you are saving for the holidays throughout the year you will have plenty of money by the time Christmas rolls around. Not having to fund the normal clothing category in December will seem like a bonus!
Determine your needs versus wants this year
If you are late to the game (no shame in that!) and are just now making a commitment to save for Christmas, you will want to have some real conversations with yourself around what’s a need versus a want this year.
When you have more time to save you can have more wants in your budget because that extra spending is spread over a longer period of time. But when we only have a month or two to save, we most likely won’t have enough room in our paycheck to have an extravagant holiday without going into debt.
So I challenge you, just this year, to ask yourself if it’s a need or a want every time you go to checkout. Yes, that includes that new decorative Santa Claus or those earrings for yourself on Black Friday. Let’s pay for everything in cash and make a commitment to ourselves to start saving in January for an all-in holiday next year.
Ready to learn more or get started? Book a free call with me and let’s put financial clarity on top of your priority list this year.
Disclaimer: Bring Me The News will receive a portion of the proceeds from readers who purchase a service from Money Gal Coaching via our articles.