Yeah, I know. You don’t want to hear about how Black Friday will be here before we know it, and you don’t want to hear about Christmas right now. I get it. But the reality is the holiday shopping season is upon us whether we like it or not. And chances are you will be getting anywhere from 1-4 paychecks between now and Black Friday. And Christmas is only 30 days afterward.
So if you haven’t already started planning and preparing your money for Christmas, now is the time to do it!
I know that seems overwhelming. But if you don’t plan now, then you’re going to feel frazzled and strained and are just going to give in and start swiping cards to buy, buy, buy because you’re caught in the spiral of the hustle and bustle.
Things to think about…
So let’s think about this. Are your necessary bills all covered and up to date? Are you already spending more than you make or are you spending less than you make? Are you watching your savings grow or shrink? What about your debt – is it growing or shrinking?
We need to think about this because it puts our Christmas spending in perspective to our current reality. If inflation is hitting you hard like it is our family, you’re probably already trying to figure out how to cut back and what you can sell to increase income/savings/debt payoff. That’s why, if you don’t have a Christmas Sinking Fund and haven’t already been saving for it all year long, you’ll have to come up with a plan now.
If you have four paychecks coming between now and Black Friday and want to spend $1,000 on Christmas, then you’re going to have to put away $250 each paycheck to make it happen. There’s nothing wrong with that – knowing how much you plan to spend on Christmas is a good thing. It’s information. But if you’re like my family and have decided to have a smaller-than-usual Christmas, that’s 100% a-okay too!
The key here is to think about Christmas and how it will impact your money TODAY. Why? Because if you don’t, then, you’ll keep repeating the neverending cycle of spending way too much on Christmas or even repeating the debt cycle by overspending on Christmas on credit and starting the New Year off deeper in debt than you ended it.
That’s why I want also to remind you that it’s okay if this Christmas looks different than years past. It’s okay if inflation or a job loss makes spending money this Christmas scary for you. It’s okay to say “no” to buying gifts all together. After all, Christmas was never about the gifts under a tree anyway.
Having the tough conversations…
I know that no one wants to have these conversations, but they’re needed, especially if you don’t have the room in the budget to go all out this year for Christmas. That’s okay. Seriously – it’s okay not to go all out for Christmas. Last year, my brother and I decided that we weren’t buying gifts for each other’s kids anymore. His kids are the only nieces and nephews Pat and I will ever have, so for us, it’s not as big of a deal to buy Christmas gifts for them. However, my sister-in-law is from a larger family, with several nieces and nephews on that side of the family. So it was necessary to take this one off the table.
And maybe you need to do that too? Maybe you have to make the tough decision that you can’t buy Christmas for all of your nieces and nephews this year. That’s okay.
Here are some tough ideas but ways that can help you stretch your Christmas budget this year if need be. Don’t be afraid to say that you simply can’t do it this year – there’s no shame in that.
- Skip buying for co-workers this year.
- Skip buying for neighbors.
- Skip buying your children’s teachers gifts (I know this one is hard but if you can’t swing it, you can’t swing it).
- Skip buying for extended family members or consider doing a “family” gift instead of individual gifts.
- Skip the million presents for your own children and instead buy one or two gifts.
Ways to Stretch the Budget:
Okay, so we’ve talked about making the tough decisions in having a debt-free Christmas in regards to who/what we’re skipping buying for this year. Let’s now talk about how to stretch our budgets!
- Use Fetch Rewards to earn points towards gift cards.
- Use Swagbucks to earn points toward gift cards.
- Use Rakuten when shopping online to earn (actual) cash back on your purchases!
- Shop secondhand for gifts at consignment and thrift stores or online boutiques like ThredUp.
The great thing about using places like Fetch and Swagbucks is that you can get gift cards at the places you need to shop for Christmas gifts! Further stretching your Christmas spending. I cashed out some SBs from Swagbucks every year for a Shutterfly gift card so I can buy our Christmas gifts for less!
Alright, hopefully, this will help you have a debt-free Christmas this year despite the rising costs of everything. Let’s enjoy this time with our families!
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