We’ve always just assumed that we would use credit cards for Christmas, and accepted the fact that there would be a mountain of debt to pay off in January and February. Can you tell us how to make it through the Christmas season next year without accumulating debt? — Carol
Giving is a wonderful thing if your intentions—and your finances—are in the right place. But don’t let yourself get trapped in the shopping bonanza just because everyone else is doing it. It’s all too easy to try to justify overspending in the weeks ahead just because it’s a gift.
It’s pretty simple. Look at your budget, and see what you can afford to pay cash for during the holiday season. Once you and your spouse agree on this amount, make a list, check it twice and stick to it! Include the names and amounts you are going to spend on each person or charity. It’s just common sense, but it’s easy to find something in the mall you “just have to buy.” That’s where problems start.
Giving is not meant to be stressful on your finances. Give with the right intentions, and give with a financial plan in mind that does not include debt. Another thing to remember is Christmas always falls on December 25th. Don’t wait until Thanksgiving to realize it’s right around the corner. You could even get a real jump on things, and set a little bit aside each month toward Christmas starting right now! — Dave