I truly do love this time of year! I love the weather because I get to wear my cute boots and scarves. I love the sales, music, and the friendly faces too. Right next to the people with those friendly faces, are the ones who absolutely dread the holiday…yet, they still get out there with everyone else. Why?!!! I do not get that! Looking all irritated because they feel like they have to run up a credit card bill and empty out their accounts to make someone they love semi-happy. I refuse to drive myself crazy trying to give everyone everything on their list, and do it all in 30 days. We all know that the Christmas season does not shift around…meaning, it comes every year at the same time! The prices are not always something to celebrate at this time because many stores raise their prices so that you will pay the real price after you get your “60%” off. We swipe those cards and give the credit card companies an opportunity to make a lot more money off of us if we pay the minimum balance, so where are we saving?
I have enough bills to deal with throughout the year so I am mindful of this time of year and the “bargains” it may bring. I would like to enjoy the season and still be on good financial footing when the new year begins. I have been reading some about finance and budgeting and I have been using some new ways to keep my stress level down and my wallet balanced during heavy spending times, including the summer, school, vacations, birthdays and Christmas.
- Set a budget and stick to it! I used to buy things just because I could and it would end up being something that would probably not be used, it was just on sale. Am I the only one? We do not need to impress others with our ability to create debt. Look at your finances and create a budget that gives you air to breath. If you need someone to help you stay accountable to your spending, get someone!
- If you think you need to, earn some extra cash. There are plenty stores that hire for the holiday season so get out there and do what you need to in order to help your family have a memorable Christmas and not put any significant dents in your main income. You can always take on more hours at your present job if you do not want to take on another job. I found a mobile app where you can do surveys and make extra money as well, Swagbucks. There is also Field Agent. With them, you go around scanning items in stores that you frequent and make money for each scan. It really does work and has plenty of positive reviews. Check them out!
- Sell things that you have and do not need, use or want. Get rid of it! Go ahead. It is taking up space and you can potentially make money off of it. I am currently giving away purses (you have no idea how hard that is) and maybe a few pairs of shoes. Someone is probably looking for what you don’t need anymore. I see a lot of people selling things on Facebook yard sales and other places. You never know what you can make and be able to purchase gifts for the family without having to create more debt.
- Be creative with your gifts. Think about the people you want to purchase gifts for. They are not all the same and some of them already have too many scarves, ties, and pajamas at this point. You can always make something unique or plan an excursion that they would appreciate. I coupon so some of my loved ones may be getting gift baskets with practical everyday things that they can use. That saves them money and the time it takes to shop for the items. Be creative and “out of the box”; most of the time those gifts turn out to be the best and most memorable ones.
- Pay your bills ASAP! If you did have to use credit cards, try to pay the debt off as quick as you can. The longer you sit on it, the more interest builds and that $9.99 sweater you purchased will really end up being a whole lot more depending on your rate. I know it may be hard to do, but just try not to use them at all. If you have no choice, budget your spending on them. I do not really use mine much because the plan is to be credit card debt free by the end of next year and it is a reality for me because I only have one to go!
This is the time of year to show love to our families and also strangers. Trying to make it through the holiday season without significant debt can be hard, but with careful planning and sacrifice, we just might be able to do it. Giving gifts at Christmas does not have to sneak up on us. I know that it’s coming so planning throughout the year allows a little less stress and gives time to actually enjoy the season and the reason for it. Happy Birthday Jesus!