This Christmas will be our family’s third debt-free Christmas. Which means, that all of our Christmas presents, charity donations, and holiday food, will be purchased with cash – no credit cards, heck we don’t even have one to use if we wanted to.
Our Christmases tend to look a little bit different from the ones I see all over Instagram and Facebook on Christmas morning. Our thirty-year-old fake Christmas tree won’t have presents pile up reaching the ceiling and our holiday meals won’t consist of elaborate hors d’oeuvres and beautifully decorated tablespaces.
The reason is simple. We don’t have that kind of cash and honestly, even if we did I can name 37 other things that I’d rather use it for. Once we stopped spending so much on Christmas every year, our Christmases became happier, more fulfilled and more joyful. Without having to worry over how we were going to recover from the financial hangover brought on by overspending in January, we can now enjoy our holidays together.
And the best part is, we tend to stay more focused on the true reason behind the season and why it is we even celebrate Christmas in the first place. We focus less on how much we can buy with our credit limit and more on how to bring our children closer to Jesus on His birthday.
Our first debt-free Christmas, I spent crying on the floor because our Christmas morning with very few gifts looked pitiful in comparison to those Instagram pictures of presents piled high around the tree. I found myself lost in the comparison trap, wishing I had abandoned our debt-free journey just that once.
But the reality is simple, by sticking to our debt-free journey I was unable to overspend on Christmas because in order to purchase our Christmas presents, I had to have the cash on hand to do so. I couldn’t just call our credit card company and request a credit line increase.
So, how do you make a debt-free Christmas possible, year after year?
The first step to managing your money, whether it is for Christmas or just day-to-day stuff, is to budget your money. Without a budget, you have no idea where your money is going and where you want your money to go. Every year, I make a Christmas budget specifically for the money we have set aside to pay for Christmas that year.
For example, if we plan to spend $300 total on Christmas this year, our budget would like similar to this:
Wrapping Paper/Décor: $25
Now, I know that’s a super simple example, but you get the idea. One of the easiest ways to make budgeting easier during the holidays is to set up your budget early – like now if you haven’t already. And if you’re married to a budget-adverse person like I am, you may want to use a budgeting software program that makes it easier to “visualize” your budget and check-in with your budget on the go.
For instance, to keep my husband in check on where we are at with the Christmas budget, we use Personal Capital (it’s free). The great thing about using Personal Capital is that my hubs can use the app on his phone to see what he can and cannot spend from our Christmas budget.
Extra Spending Money
Now, after you create your budget, you may realize that you don’t have a lot of cash to spend on Christmas. This is where temptation will hit you and you’ll be tempted to spend money you don’t have on Christmas. I’m a huge fan of working side hustles to earn extra spending cash for the holidays.
For example, I’ve been using Swagbucks all year long so we could afford to pay for all of Christmas this year without coming out of our one income budget. However, earning extra money outside of your budget isn’t the only way to generate extra spending money. If you take the time to sit down with your monthly budget now, you can rework your budget and potentially find areas that you can do without for the next month in order to make more spending room for Christmas.
Save and Save Some More
I know Christmas is right around the corner, but let’s be honest, Christmas is on December 25th of every single year. It never changes – so why don’t we save all year long for Christmas in order to pay in cash for our Christmases and avoid sinking into debt for it?
For instance, if you put it in your budget to start setting aside $10 every week starting with the first week in January, you’d have roughly $500 by Christmas Day to spend on Christmas without going into debt.
Living the debt-free life and having a debt-free Christmas is possible. It won’t always be easy, but I can attest to it being one of the best gifts you can give yourself and your family.
Is your family having a debt-free Christmas this year? If so, what helpful advice can you offer for making it a reality?
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Money controlling you? I know the feeling. My family has been living this real life on a budget for a long time and I can tell you that there's never a perfect season, but with a few changes you can start to reign in your money issues.
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