Christmas on a Budget: Tips From the Best Finance Bloggers
Retailers in America generate 20% of their total annual sales during the holiday season. That is some seriously good business they do during this period.
What does this mean for us, the consumers, the ones who are buying all this stuff?
According to Nerdwallet’s 2017 Consumer Holiday Shopping Report more than half Americans who shopped during the holiday season incurred credit card debt. Debt is a growing side effect of holiday shopping.
More than half the people incurring credit card debt were unable to pay it off within the first month. That means additional finance charges and interest, bumping up their total Christmas spending. Of the people who incurred credit card debt, 14% had not paid it off by the following October when it was time to start spending for the holidays once again. (Source: Nerdwallet)
It is of little wonder that Christmas festivities and pressures end up creating stress and damaging the health and well-being of so many people.
So what do you do if finances are tight?
Here is some of the best advice from some of the biggest names in finance blogging on how to celebrate Christmas on a budget. I have curated this specially for you to help you save the time and effort to go searching through tonnes of advice. Here’s to making your holiday festive, joyous and relaxed, even on a tight budget.
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Best Tips To Celebrate Christmas on a Budget
Setting Up Your Christmas Budget
3 out of 10 people shopping for the holiday do not have a budget. Of the rest who do have a budget, a quarter go over the budget they set out for themselves. (Source: Nerdwallet)
READ MORE: How to set up a budget for Christmas (and actually fund it).
Don’t ignore normal monthly expenses
While setting up your Christmas spending budget first focus on your regular monthly expenses. This includes your essentials like rent, groceries, utility bills, and gas as well as your regular monthly payments.
Here is some great advice from Dave Ramsey on how to create your Christmas Budget.
Determine how much you can afford to spend
Elizabeth Helen Spencer at Money Under 30 says you need to be deliberate about how much you can afford to spend. If money is tight, trim down your list of expenses. Your spending goal should be something you can afford without worry.
More Than Just Gifts
Don’t forget to budget for everything that you are likely to spend money on. This includes travel, a new Christmas Tree or Charity. Dave Ramsey reminds us
You’ll probably need things like gift wrap, decorations, and ingredients for all those delicious Christmas dishes you make every year.
Find Extra Savings
Michelle over at Making Sense of Cents has listed down lots of things you can start doing now that can save you money not just for your Christmas on a budget but for the future too. These range from negotiating for better rates on your insurance to eating out less.
Saving on Gifts
Use only cash
14 percent of American holiday shoppers still had credit card debt outstanding almost a year after Christmas. That is a problem.
One way is to spend only what you have. Michelle’s advise is to do all your holiday shopping on cash.
Personally, I find it harder to spend the same amount in cash over a credit card. It just hits harder.
You are more likely to end up spending more on a credit card. Also the additional charges and interest penalties can be killing.
This may not be the easiest thing to do, but if you find yourself making impulse buys, it is certainly worth putting that effort for.
Be Clever in Finding Gifts
If you are worried that your gift might be considered cheap, make it special by personalizing it. Add value by attaching it to a special memory you have with that person.
The DailyWorth suggest you could look for gifts on discount and group deals sites.
Don’t forget that to use these sites effectively, you gotta start early.
You don’t always have to buy a gift to give a gift
Love need not cost a penny. Think of all the ways you can express your love for a family without spending a dime.
Like the WiseBread says you can give something to everyone – a card, a gift you made or something that does not cost too much money. Instead of money, you will be using your time, energy and skills for the gift.
Find Ways to Make Extra Money
If you can’t find ways to cut back, then you may want to find ways to make more money says Michelle from Making Sense of Cents. She lists down ways to make extra money for Christmas this year.
Things To Avoid
Don’t let guilt break your budget. Avoid getting into the pressure of buying someone an expensive gift just because they spent a whole lot of dollars on yours. You do you. Like WiseBread says
Avoid Peak Travel Dates
Choose your travel dates wisely. If possible, plan your visit back home for the early part of December. Flight tickets are at the maximum during the Christmas week right upto New Year. Here is some good advice from DailyWorth.
Avoid Counting on a Holiday Bonus
Even if you receive a Christmas bonus everyyear, don’t count on it. What if you don’t get it this year? Companies are not obligated to give you a bonus.
If you do receive a bonus, you are better off using it to pay off a high-cost debt. Keep it for incase you end up overspending. Like WiseBread says
It is never too late to start saving for Christmas
One thing that all bloggers agree on is that it is better to start saving early for your holidays. January is the best time. Now is the second best.
It’s much easier to save $83 a month than it is to spend $1,000 in a mad panic. – Dave Ramsey
It is never too late to start saving for the year for the festivities and joy that are rapidly approaching.
Obviously, it’s better to start early, which is why putting a plan in place now for your special occasions is a great idea. – Dave Ramsey
What is some of the great advice you have got to celebrate Christmas on a budget? Do share.