Here's How Not To Go Into Debt This Holiday Season

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If you want to have enough cash to make it to 2019, here are a few tips to prevent you from going into debt this holiday season.
Kimberly Wilson Dec, 11, 2018

For many of us, holiday shopping can break the bank. In fact, in 2016 the average American shopper acquired more than $1,000 of debt during the holidays alone. Does this sound like you? If the answer is yes, then at least you can rest assured that you’re not alone. But with proper planning, and a game plan in tow, you can ditch your old money habits, and still make this holiday season one for the books.

If you want to have enough cash to make it to 2019, here are a few tips to prevent you from going into debt this holiday season.

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Limit the amount of gifts you get this year. Do you really need to get a gift for Becky in bookkeeping? Or your neighbor that you can’t stand? Or your trainer who you’re already paying your hard money 3x a week? During this time, it’s time to take a good look at your Christmas list, and determine the people who are worthy of receiving a gift from you. The first thing to do when taking stock? Think about gifts that will be reciprocated. If they aren’t checking for you, then why would you be checking for them when it comes to spending your hard earned cash? This year, find ways to trim the excess. Instead of buying gifts for neighbors, how about making baskets full of home-baked goods? You can’t please everyone, and if you want to limit your spending, it’s time to start somewhere.

Use credit card rewards. The best way to pay for your holiday spending? Using other people’s money. Well, kind of… but not really. But you definitely can reap the rewards of the spending that you’ve been doing in all year to cash in on rewards points that can go towards gift cards, travel and more. Lucky for you, if you’re one of the few Americans who can use credit cards responsibly and pay them off in full every month and reap the benefits of credit card rewards, who said having a credit card was a bad thing?

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Set a spending limit for each person you’re shopping for. We know, we know. You’ve got to get gifts for ya’ mama, ya’ sister, and ya’ God babies. But once you have gift ideas for every person on your list, write down the amount you’re going to spend on the gift. There’s no need to spend hundreds of dollars on everyone because it’s the thought that counts, right? Make sure you shop the sales and research the lesser-known alternatives that might work just as well but cost less. Stand firm on your budget, and don’t let yourself add extras here and there for each person — no matter how special they might be in your life.

Limit your gifts for yourself. We all deserve to treat ourselves, because it’s an act of self-care and once wrapped up in the holiday spirit, you may find yourself tempted to ditch your list to fulfill your own needs. And while you can still put yourself first, think of a minimalist lifestyle and focus on only getting yourself the essentials or something you’ve wanted all year long. Limit yourself to a need. If it’s not a must-have, it can wait. Stick to your spending plan and reward yourself with something in the new year, after you’ve recovered from the hit your checking account took from the holidays.

Make your gifts instead of buying them. Have you mastered the art of DIY? Do your projects often look better than store bought items? Well it’s time to take these talents to use. Ditch the big ticket gift item and make something unique curated to the person receiving the gift. Whether or not it’s an old dresser that you’ve spray painted to fit your girlfriend’s new home decor, or homemade candles or lotion, these gifts are always sure to leave a long lasting impression.

Suggest alternatives that will cut down on shopping. Have you heard of a white elephant gift? Or a Secret Santa? For example, instead of getting a gift for everyone in your family, do a gift exchange where everyone gives a gift to one person attending your holiday celebration.

Lastly, a tip for next year because yes, the key to successfully saving is planning for the future… Save throughout the year

Prior proper planning will make this holiday season much easier for you. By setting aside a small amount throughout the entire year, it will cause less of an impact then splurging once the holiday season begins. You can do so in a number of ways: designating a “Christmas fund” where you deposit extra cash that comes in, shopping for items throughout the whole year and not just waiting until November hits, or even donating a portion of each paycheck ($25-50) so that you can plan for the holiday of your dreams. This helps pay for all holiday-related items, such as decorations, the tree, Christmas cards, postage, and of course, gifts. Having around $1000 stashed away can help avoid the worry of wondering how you’re going to pay for everything, and better yet, helps keep the purchases off your credit cards.