With Christmas carols jingling in the background, a whiff of gingerbread in the air, children sitting on Santa’s lap, and tinsel everywhere you turn, it’s easy to be swept up in the holiday spending atmospheres that retailers create during this season.
Pretty soon you’re feeling jolly enough to splurge on a present for yourself and give in to anything the kids want. Then when your credit card statement arrives in January, the seasonal glamor is gone and you realize you have more holiday debt than you can handle.
We’re not saying you should be a scrooge this year, but we do want to remind you that this season isn’t all about Christmas shopping. With the tips in this post, you can swiftly avoid stuffing your stocking with holiday debt and instead enjoy the season without overspending.
Why Control my Holiday Spending?
According to the National Retail Federation, the average American plans to spend over $800 on holiday items. If that sounds too high for you, stop to consider all of the holiday items you yourself usually purchase. This might include presents for friends and family, gifts you get yourself just because they’re slightly discounted this time of year, and expenses associated with holiday parties, activities and home decorations.
When we think about the bills we could settle, the groceries we could buy or the rent we could pay with that $800, it absolutely seems worth it to concentrate on reining in the Christmas spending and avoiding holiday debt.
Holiday Shopping Strategies To Master
If you know you’re easily influenced by the mall’s winter wonderland charm to make unnecessary purchases, then the best way to save money is to stay away from holiday shopping as much as possible. That might be easier said than done though, so the following are simple strategies to help you make smart decisions if you do go Christmas shopping.
First of all, you should always go into the store with a written, realistically budgeted list of the holiday items you need to buy, and stick to it! It might even be helpful to bring someone along on your Christmas shopping trips to hold you accountable. You could also make appointments around your holiday shopping time so you have a real reason to leave the store before you start overspending.
Next, don’t give into barely discounted offers like “buy 10, get one free” or “free shipping over $300”…You can’t save money when you’re overspending. Also beware of “gift sets” with 15 different products in them, when a single, thoughtful item is plenty generous for any present.
Since the little things do add up, skip the greeting card aisle, knowing that Americans buy 2.6 billion of them each holiday season. Instead, write a heartfelt note on a piece of stationery you already have. Even better, have your kids make holiday greeting cards, because the activity is instant entertainment for the whole family, and giving a handmade card is much more meaningful for the recipient.
Once you’ve selected the holiday items you want to purchase, buy with cash when it’s possible. On any given Christmas shopping trip, only bringing the amount of money you plan to spend can prevent you from building up holiday debt through impulse purchases on your credit cards.
Finally, if you accidentally splurge on holiday items that you later realize you can do without, check the return policy and take them back to the store if you can. If you don’t already, make a habit of saving receipts for that purpose.
Try Giving Alternative Gifts
If you really want to have a less materialistic Christmas, ask your extended family to consider skipping the gift exchange. Instead, spend quality time together, playing a group game, volunteering in the community, caroling in your neighborhood or swapping family stories around the fire. You could also make commitments or “gift certificates” to help each other with household projects or babysit each other’s kids.
If some relatives still want to do a traditional gift exchange, set a reasonable price range and draw names so that each person gives one gift and gets one gift. That can cut down on a lot of holiday spending if everyone was previously buying everyone else a present.
If it’s too late to change your family’s gift giving plan, you can still choose to give alternative gifts yourself by making presents instead of buying them. Any time a gift involves your time and talents and is truly thoughtful and unique to one person, monetary value shouldn’t be an issue.
Memphis Bankruptcy Attorneys Can Help with Holiday Debt
Hopefully with these tips you can keep your holiday spending within your budget, but we all make mistakes and it’s understandable how holiday debt can be accumulated. If it gets to where you can’t pay your bills or support your family, don’t hesitate to schedule a free bankruptcy consultation with us.
Our Memphis bankruptcy attorneys can show you how filing for bankruptcy is the responsible way to recover from holiday debt you didn’t intend to accrue. Finally, let’s all plan to shift our focus away from holiday spending and start enjoying the season through time with family and friends, counting our blessings, and even making time to serve others.