Our last blog article talked about paying down or paying off your credit card debt ahead of the holiday shopping season, but a lot of us have to face it – with less than two weeks before Thanksgiving week, it’s too late to do anything of substance for a lot of us. In other words, it may be better to focus on avoiding further debt this holiday season.
American consumers, on average, spent close to $800 on Christmas gifts in 2014, and for a lot of us, eight hundred dollars is no trifling amount of money. Many consumers don’t have enough saved up for the holiday season, and may be thinking of grabbing their credit card and having their Visa, MasterCard, or American Express card save the day. So many of us have considered this in our “darkest hours,” but you don’t have to incur debt in the holidays with these tips and tools.
SAVE MONEY WHILE STILL EARLY – Sounds familiar? That’s because we mentioned this in the other blog post about eliminating debt before the holidays. But every dollar and cent you save ahead of Black Friday, Christmas, and other holidays counts. For example, you can save about $30 to $50 per paycheck and create a Christmas fund of your own. If you and your partner are both working, you could start adding money to your Christmas kitty as early as January, and have at least $700 to $800 ready for the holiday season.
But since there are less than two months remaining before Christmas, it would be nice if you can save a few dollars per week so you will, at the very least, have something to spend for your Christmas shopping. Maybe $50 a week will be fine, if you can afford it – you may have to tighten the old belt, but if you haven’t saved up that much yet, a little savings are better than none at all.
BUY CHRISTMAS GIFTS ON THANKSGIVING WEEK – Black Friday is traditionally the best time of the year to save money, so how about doing your Christmas shopping on Black Friday instead? A lot of us feel like we need to make a purchase on both Black Friday and Christmas, but you can take advantage of those Thanksgiving week savings and buy your Christmas presents as early as then.
CREDIT CARD REWARDS CAN HELP YOU AS WELL – Your credit card issuer most likely has some sort of rewards program for your purchases, so why not redeem your points in advance of Christmas Day? You’ll typically get gift cards in lieu of actual items, but if this doesn’t sound like your thing, you can use your credit card to pay for Christmas gifts and redeem your points for cash-back rewards instead.
BUY CHEAPER GIFTS OR MAKE YOUR OWN – You’ve probably heard it before – it’s the thought that counts. And who wants another coffee mug or picture frame for Christmas? That just reeks of a lack of imagination, and defeats the whole “it’s the thought that counts” line of thinking. Secret Santa initiatives at the workplace allow you to give inexpensive, yet thoughtful gifts to co-workers. And when it comes to friends and family, you can buy more affordable gifts, or make your own baked goodies/make your own crafts items instead of buying gift baskets at the store.