All of my adult life, I have watched good friends and family create physical, mental, and financial tornados for themselves around Christmas. Rushing to get everything done. Feeling like they are drowning in wrapping paper, candy canes, and credit card debt. Have you ever dreamed of a debt-free Christmas?
And all of my married life, we have done it differently (22 years). So how can I help? Besides creating a Christmas Planner (link here) to make Christmas less stressful, including all of my hacks, I wanted to share some secrets to pulling off a debt-free Christmas.
Table of Contents
Debt-Free Christmas Baby Steps
When you are jumping on board with this entire concept would depend on how helpful these tips in Baby Step One are. It’s always better to start this sooner or later. I usually start when kids return to school here in Upstate NY (after Labor Day). The planner mentioned above starts you out on October First to be ready for Christmas by December First.
This is the most important advice I can give you. It is always better to start earlier than later. It not only gives you peace of mind knowing you are not waiting until the last minute, but it also gives you complete control over what you are spending and buying. Having more time will allow you to put more thought into the gift itself and find the best deal on it.
If, for some reason, you haven’t started in October (by the way – I have a pretty fantastic planner to help you to be ready for Christmas by December first. You can take a look at that HERE. Jump in right now where you are.
Open Up A Savings Account
Opening up a designated savings account specifically for Christmas is a smart idea. Or get a safety firebox and start putting money in it each paycheck. Just someplace to start stockpiling cash. Because you know when Christmas is. Same day every year. It won’t be a surprise.
There are some great online savings accounts. If you are worried that your bank’s savings account is too easily accessible (me over here, raising my hand), I have a great blog post about savings accounts here.
Set An Amount
Decide a specific amount to add to your savings every week or month. And then actually follow through without fail. All in. Commit. Consider direct transfer to make your life easier. Anything that can be automated where I don’t have to think about it makes my life a little bit better. I named my Debt Free Christmas Money account because everything must have a name. Ruby is the name of my Roomba robot floor cleaner.
Make A List And A Budget
Then check it twice (Christmas humor right there!).
When you are configuring your debt-free Christmas plan, you make a list of all the people you want to give gifts. All of them. From your mama to the mailman. I use pen and paper, but some great apps can even be password-protected, so snooping people cannot snoop.
Assign a dollar amount to each person.
Then stick to it.
Tips For Not Spending Too Much This Holiday Season
Set A Holiday Budget
After you have set a budget for gift-giving per person, let’s set a budget for everything related to the holidays, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
An overall holiday budget needs to include everything. The money saved needs to include gifts, food, decor, and travel. Even that extra gas money you will need going from house to house should be included.
Cut Back Where You Can For The Season
We all have areas in our lives that could use a little trim. Maybe cut out fast food trips or Pizza on Fridays for a bit to have some extra money. Having the funds for Christmas will allow you the ability NOT to use credit cards. And pay the electric bill instead of buying toys. You cannot put toys on credit cards and have a debt-free Christmas.
Cutting back on food is an excellent place to start. Most of us have enough food in our freezer and pantry to skip the grocery store for a week or two.
Check out this post on reverse meal planning to use up those items that have been around for a while.
Earn More Money For Christmas
Get A Seasonal Job
I have seen signs in almost every retail store for seasonal help. Consider the store that could give you a discount on things you might buy anyway. Not only will you get a discount, but you will also earn a paycheck.
Personally, I would apply at Kohl’s.
Sell Things You Are Not Using
Every year when my boys were little, we would go through their old toys and donate what they didn’t want. This made room for the new incoming stuff. With the ease of Facebook Market Place and Craigslist, you could easily make some money off those gently used toys and clothes.
This goes for anything else around your house that you aren’t using. Sell it and make some money.
Make Something And Sell It
My friend Kelly is super crafty. She creates crafts and sets up craft shows to sell her products to have money for Christmas. The majority of what she sells are repurposed wine bottles, painted and decorated into some cute seasonal crafts.
All her friends save their wine bottles for her, so the costs are low.
My other friend Kim bakes pumpkin rolls right before Thanksgiving. She baked over 100 pumpkin rolls and then used that money for Christmas Shopping. Tell me that’s not BRILLIANT!!!
These last two are smart, in my opinion. Tak about rockin’ the debt-free Christmas journey!?! Am I right??
Extreme Debt-Free Christmas Hacks
Use Coupons For Gifts
Since my Mother In Law retired, I have been buying her some practical gifts. I bought her a single-serve coffee maker a few years ago, so every year for Christmas and her birthday (in July), I get her a BIG box of 100 K Cups from BJs.
For Christmas, I also buy the things she will use, like shampoo, soap, toilet paper, laundry soap, and paper towels.
So this year, I have decided to get back into a little couponing to pick these things up at a discount.
The joy is all of these stores, like Dollar General, Family Dollar, CVS, and Walgreens, have apps. Gone are my days of buying the Sunday Paper and clipping coupons. I can get some super deals on this stuff with half the work.
It’s fun, and my MIL will get some great stuff as part of her Christmas present this year.
Earn Gift Cards With Your Phone
These apps go hand in hand with the deals mentioned above.
You have apps like Fetch and Ibotta that earn you gift cards by earning points. With Fetch, you earn points each time you take a photo of a receipt. If you have a select item on that receipt, you earn MORE points. This is my favorite of the two. After signing up, you can check out Fetch Here and get 3,000 points right off the bat. Just use this code: NDGFJ
The same goes for Ibotta. Earn points for things you use anyway! Check out Ibotta Here and use code: desfg
DIY Christmas Gifts
I am lucky enough to have a Cricut Machine, which makes DIY gifts so much fun! I am making some Christmas ornaments this year and a few t-shirts.
I have been making Christmas gifts for a long time. I have made pillowcases and quilts as well as scrapbooks and superhero capes!
Even if you are not so crafty, there is something out there easy enough to put together! Check out Pinterest!
Bake And Freeze Gifts
This is something else I have been doing for years. I usually bake mini loaves of quick bread from scratch for friends. I start around November first and then throw them in the freezer. They are fun, homemade, and baked with love. Check out this blog post, complete with my recipes.
Sign Up For A FREE Trial of Amazon Prime
So many people love Amazon (I am one). It is a no-brainer for me to pay for Amazon Prime yearly because I make that back without any issues. It is well worth it for me. But did you know if you aren’t a member of Amazon Prime, you can get a FREE month to give it a shot? Sign up here for one free month of Prime!
I mentioned Facebook Marketplace a while back to sell things you no longer want, but what if you could also BUY stuff as gifts? I just checked toys, and there are items STILL in the packaging in my area. Brand new toys at a fraction of the price!
Also, places like consignment shops and thrift stores will have items with the tags still on. I got a friend of mine a gorgeous plum jacket one year for her birthday from Talbots with the tags still on for pennies on the dollar.
You could get great deals at these places if you aren’t shy. You have to be open to the possibilities.
Skip The Things You Don’t Really Need
Honestly. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the season’s joys that we overspend and buy things we might not need. To have a debt-free Christmas, we need to keep control of our spending. If you see cute Santa plates, check to see if you have something you can use up this year left from previous years.
Maybe you have white plates and could add a cute (less expensive) napkin instead.
Check out this blog post about everything I am NOT buying this Christmas.
Do you need another cute gift bag? You do have all that wrapping paper still. Could you take another 45 seconds to wrap it instead of buying a gift bag?
That wraps it up (Christmas pun intended) on how to have a debt-free Christmas.
I hope everyone has a beautiful DEBT-FREE season!