The average American spends upwards of $750 on holiday shopping.
If you’re putting that amount on a credit card, it could take you about 5 years to pay it off. (Not to mention the $350 you’ll pay in interest!)
Let’s stop being average. It’s time to break the cycle of debt and learn how to afford the holidays.
Before we can talk about how you’re going to pay for your Christmas shopping, we have to address three very important things:
First, you absolutely must determine a gift-giving plan. Having a solid plan is the key to figuring out how much to budget for the holidays.
Next, let go of what others are doing. Your plan to give thoughtful gifts while sticking to a budget isn’t going to work if it includes worrying about what others are buying. It won’t do a bit of good to feel guilty if someone spends more on you than you do on them. Focus on what you want to give based on what you can afford. Forget about what the rest of the world says you should spend.
Stop worrying if what you’re giving is enough.
Once you get through all those mental roadblocks that trip up your finances during the holidays, you can work on raising the funds to afford gifts and all of the expenses that come with the holiday celebration. So put away the credit cards. We’re paying cash this year!
Start saving now.
The earlier you start saving, the more money you’ll have when it’s time to shop. Let’s say you plan to spend $750 on gifts and want to be able to shop on Black Friday. If you start saving on September 25, you’ll have about 9 weeks to save. That means you’d need to save about $83 a week. Now you can see why starting early makes saving easier!
If you’re willing to do your shopping a little closer to Christmas, then you’d have more time to save and would need to set aside less money each week. One other idea: You could do your shopping a little bit at a time between now and the holidays – making sure to pay cash for each gift.
Find some forgotten cash.
It can feel a little daunting to come up with the money for Christmas shopping when there are groceries to buy and bills to pay. But with any luck, you just might have some cash tucked away that you have forgotten about. If you’ve been saving your spare change, now’s the time to bring it to the bank and cash it in. Check to see if you have any credit card rewards coming to you (either in the form of cash back or in the form of items you could give as gifts). Take advantage of rewards programs you may participate in. I’ve used MyCokeRewards and Kellogg’s Family Rewards to help pay photo gifts for family.
Bring in a little extra money.
If you’re finding yourself short on funds, it’s time to figure out how you can bring in some extra cash. Sell some of your stuff in a garage sale, on consignment, or through a Facebook selling group or Craigslist. Take on some pet-sitting or baby-sitting gigs. Use your skills to make some money through Fiverr or Odesk. Sign up for Swagbucks and earn gift cards just for searching the web. Take online surveys to make some extra money. Use apps like GigWalk or EasyShift. Recycle your aluminum cans for cash. Pick up a newspaper route (and get some exercise, too!). If you’re willing to put in a little time, you’ll be able to earn some extra money to help you afford the holidays.
Stretch your money.
It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping for shampoo or shopping for Christmas, you need to make the most of your money! So be sure to shop the sales and use coupons when you can. If you shop online, be sure to use coupon codes to save. Don’t forget to earn cash back on your online purchases through Ebates.
You can also give secondhand gifts. (Yes, really!). Or make your money go further by making your own gifts. Use your photography skills to create some wall art. Bake up some goodies or give gifts in a jar. Put thought, not money into your gifts.
You can pay for the holidays with cash.
If you’ve been really honest with yourself about how much you can afford to spend, and you’ve talked it over with your family and friends, you’ll be able to afford the holidays. And when you pay cash, you will enjoy the holidays so much more.