For many, holiday debt has become another seasonal tradition, but it doesn't have to be! You don't have to break the bank gifting your loved ones. If you spend all year trying to get out of debt, just to climb back into the debt hole come Christmas, these tips will come in handy. Fifty-seven percent of American adults say they’re willing to take on debt to make their children & family happy, says a recent study. Lingering debt can hurt family finances, and yet many people simply get caught up in the emotional tug of gift giving or get lured by those one-time deals. Consumers who take on debt over the holidays end up paying extra for it in the new year if they can’t pay it off by the deadline. Especially for credit card users with higher rates, the amount owed on interest builds rapidly when debt lingers, effectively negating all of those so-called savings. Prepare yourself with these helpful tips.
Set a holiday budget & stick to it!
Look at your savings and see how much you can afford to spend this holiday. Then make a list of your gift recipients and calculate how much you can spend on each person. Stay on target - don’t exceed your budget. This should include everything you plan to spend money on: gift purchases, travel, restaurants, parties and so on. Look at the final number. If it exceeds your budget, find ways to get discounts or trim spending. Cancel the hotel reservation and stay with friends in the area.
Nice vs. Price
People often appreciate thoughtful presents that focus on experiences, memories or quality time with loved ones. Make a scrapbook commemorating your family’s 2018 milestones. Create a coupon book for your gift recipient, offering help in ways that will make life easier for them. That could mean anything from cooking meals, setting up their website/social media accounts, cleaning their car/house or every parent favorite, babysitting.
Plan a gift exchange
Instead of everybody buying gifts for everybody this year, especially for the adults, plan a family gift exchange. This way, instead of buying smaller items for each family member, there’s financial flexibility to splurge on just one person.
Make it a family Christmas potluck
Let's be honest, the cooking usually tends to end up all on one individual or maybe you’re used to cooking an elaborate meal for the big family gathering. You can still provide the turkey or whatever centerpiece dish your tradition calls for. But take a load off this year (and trim your expenses) by asking everyone to bring a different dish and some beverages to share.
Remember that not every deal is a bargain
Retailers use crafty tactics to entice buyers. They inflate original prices to make sales seem more deeply discounted. They offload lower-quality products. They market sales as “one-time-only” even if identical sale prices have circulated earlier in the year. Don’t fall for the many holiday shopping ploys out there.
Nowaways, you don't have to flip through your flooded emails or store ads to compare prices. You can compare prices by using the search engine of your preference to look up other competitors pricing. Most stores, believe it or not, will "price match" an item to ensure a sale. You just have to ask. If you make the purchase online, but see it at a lower price elsewhere, take the item in store for a "price match". Another online trick is to use your handy search engine to find discount/promo codes for the site you are browsing. And remember, most sites this holiday season offer free shipping!
Take on a seasonal job
This is the best time of the year to find a side job to earn extra cash. Demand for labor is up, especially at retail stores. If you need more flexibility with your busy life schedule, try the popular app jobs like uber, lyft, postmates, doordash, etc. Working during the holiday season may sound like a drag, but think about the upside. You can work part-time and be done after a couple weeks. After a few 15-20 hour work weeks, you’ll have earned enough money to cover your holiday expenses and start the new year debt free.
Sell the things you no longer need
Is your house cluttered with items you no longer use? Make this an opportunity to clean up your house and earn extra cash selling these items online, through apps like Letgo, OfferUp or to local thrift stores. If you make cute crafts, consider opening an Etsy store and selling your goods there.
Unused gift cards
You may have a stack of forgotten gift cards burning a hole in your wallet. That’s a stack of extra money right there! Use them up before they expire.