Ahh Christmas is almost here. Christmas season is the best time of the year for many, but it could also be one of the most stressful times for people who are in debt and can’t afford to buy gifts.
There is just so much pressure put on us to buy everybody and their mother a little something something for Christmas. If you don’t, then you are just like Ebenezer Scrooge.
The pressure comes from everywhere. There are countless Christmas commercials telling you what you should buy, there’s Christmas music everywhere (doesn’t tell you to buy stuff, but it reminds you two months in advance that it is Christmas season and that you should start getting ready), and there are also those who keep asking, “What are you getting [INSERT NAME] for Christmas?” It is not even November yet!
Don’t get me wrong. I love Christmas. It is a time to get together with your family and loved ones. Everybody seems to be happy – maybe tired of the Christmas songs, but happy – some of us gets a little break from work, and we get gifts.
Yes, I like gifts too. The problem I have is when people get into debt just to buy somebody else a gift.
Avoid Debt for Christmas
According to a recent Gallup Poll, Americans are expected to spend an average of $781 this holiday season. That’s a lot of money, and if you’re not prepared for this expense, it could take you deeper into your debt hole.
The best way to avoid debt for Christmas is to not buy stuff for people, but that’s just unrealistic. People love Christmas because you not only receive gifts, but you also get to give somebody a gift and make them smile.
I’m not here to tell you not to buy anything at all because I’m not doing that either – unless you are living paycheck to paycheck and can’t really afford to buy a gift for somebody. If that’s the case, you should really reconsider your priorities.
If you are struggling with debt and can’t afford to part with $20, I strongly suggest that you speak with your friends and family and tell them that you just can’t afford gifts this year. They will understand and I guarantee that they will still love you even if you don’t give them a gift.
For those who are debt free or are in a debt payment plan, have a hold of their finances, and are planning on buying Christmas gifts, the best way to avoid debt is by planning ahead.
If you are planning to spend $781 this holiday season – which is way too much money – the smart thing to do is to add that expense to you budget. Divide the amount you’re planning to spend by 12 months, that way it puts less strain on your wallet. Instead of having to come up with $781 out of nowhere in December, save $65 every month and you’ll have the $781 by the end of the year.
Dave Ramsey is known for saying “Christmas happens on December 25th every year. So there’s no excuse not to save up before the gift-giving season hits.”
Reduce the Amount of Money You Spend
In my humble opinion, I think $781 is a crazy amount of money to spend on gifts, but it is not unreasonable if you are buying most of the people you know a gift. In my family, we used to buy a gift for everybody and we were all broke after Christmas. So we decided to have a Secret Santa instead.
The Secret Santa allows us to still give – and receive – a gift for Christmas, but it also helps us save money because we only have to buy one gift. Okay, this only applies to the adults because we all buy the kids gifts, but still. I no longer have to buy something for my older brother, his wife, my sister, her fiance, my fiancee (I still have to), my mom, my dad, his wife, my grandma, and my younger brother. And this is just my immediate family.
My mom has 4 siblings and my dad has 11 siblings, and most of them have multiple kids, and some of those kids have kids of their own, so you can see how Christmas spending can easily get out of control in my family.
Now we just have to buy one gift and that’s it!
We still get together to celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas, and have a great time opening gifts – or should I say, gift – so the Christmas spirit is still there and we haven’t stopped loving each other because we no longer receive 27 sweaters.
So talk with your family and try to convince them to do a Secret Santa type of thing. Explain to them that you are trying to get out of debt and having to spend a lot of money on Christmas is not going to help you achieve your goals.
Like I said before, they’ll understand and will be proud that you are doing something to become debt free. Some of them might even be relieved that they also don’t have to think of gift for the entire family.