Well, the holiday season is upon us! Did you hear that Walmart is beginning its Black Friday deals 2 hours earlier than last year?
That news gives me heart palpitations.
Soon we’ll be expected to give our “thanks” at the mall food court! (Ironic to say the least).
If you’re like me, and you prefer to live an intentional and simple life, the whole holiday gift-giving thing can be overwhelming. Hopefully, this post will give you some comfort.
The bottom line is: We don’t have to buy anything! (It’s very freeing when you finally, truly believe this. I don’t know if I’m totally there yet, but each year I’m getting closer.)
How to Have a Debt-Free Christmas
It’s almost expected that we will go into debt during the holiday season and then work to pay it off in the new year. But this doesn’t have to be the case. We can choose to avoid debt at Christmas instead:
- Stop buying gifts you can’t afford.
- Stop feeling obligated to buy expensive gifts. In fact…
- Stop feeling obligated to buy any gifts.
- And stop feeling embarrassed about the gifts you do give. There is nothing embarrassing about giving gifts that are within your budget. There is something embarrassing about spending all of your money (or going into debt) just to impress others.
- Give in other ways all year. Being reliable, helpful, and kind all year is worth much more than a single gift at Christmas.
You and I are under no obligation to overspend, ever. In fact, most gift recipients would feel terrible if they knew we overspent on their gift.
Are you feeling the weight of obligatory gift-giving leave your shoulders yet?
Good, now that we are feeling free we can focus on money-saving tactics for the gifts we are going to give.
Debt-Free Christmas: Plan Ahead
I like to sit down and decide how much I can afford to spend.
Based on my budget I will decide who to buy for and who not to buy for. Giving tips and bonuses to those you get services from (hairdresser, garbage man, babysitter, etc) is great if you can afford it, but if not, it’s okay to simply give them a warm “happy holidays” (or whichever greeting you prefer) or a holiday treat.
You could even approach family members and friends and ask if they would like to do a secret Santa exchange instead of buying everyone gifts. They might be relieved!
Start a list of gift ideas for close friends and family. I like to keep a running list throughout the year and then reference it when I need gift ideas. Having a list has helped me to know what I have bought for whom, which helps eliminate those last-minute did I buy this person enough? purchases.
Debt-Free Christmas: Research Purchases
When I have my list ready I will do some research to see where I can get certain items and where to find the best prices.
I have found that shopping online on Cyber Monday (the Monday after Thanksgiving) is the best time to score deals. It’s basically like getting Black Friday deals without having to brave the stores (I refuse to go anywhere near a shopping mall on Black Friday… or in December). You can save a lot of money as long as you stick to your list and don’t let the marketing sucker you (because, of course, the deals are a way to get you to their site ready to spend).
Here are some other ideas for getting gifts on the cheap:
- Buy used or vintage items – Remember your list? Maybe someone on there collects something you could find at a second-hand store.
- Make gifts – if you are crafty or otherwise creative you can make gifts. Think about what talents you have and what you could make that others would enjoy. Maybe make some vanilla extract, deodorant, or elderberry syrup?
- Edible gifts – Everyone loves something yummy to eat or drink. Whether it’s homemade treats or store-bought specialties, everyone loves an edible gift.
- Give an experience – tickets to a concert, show, or event.
- Give a service – free labor for a friend who is renovating or babysitting for a busy mom.
- Give something from your homestead — a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, or something made from a product you make (think wool sweater) is the ultimate gift.
Find other gift ideas in my gift guide for homesteaders!
Debt-Free Christmas: Remember the True Meaning of the Holidays
My sister and I once mentioned to my mom that a particular year was our favorite Christmas. My mom was shocked because that year was the year my parents had very little money to buy gifts. To compensate, my mom made sure she included us in as much Christmas related activities as she could. She baked cookies with us, decorated the house with popcorn garland and took us out to see the Christmas lights.
It just goes to show you that children are more interested in spending time with you than what you can buy them.
Now It’s Your Turn!
What are you doing to have a debt-free Christmas (or Hanukkah)?