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Credit cards are fun.
I remember my first credit card.
I got it in the mail, and then went to a designer store…and got some beautiful clothes I could never afford otherwise.
I left the store feeling elated.
And then…back at home…that elation calmed down and I was left with a sinking feeling in my gut.
A sickening feeling…I had bought these beautiful clothes with money that wasn’t mine. And I had almost maxed out my limit in one day.
Credit cards offer us a way to buy things we truly can’t afford.
You might be thinking…so what?
The so what is that credit cards aren’t the only debt that we have. We also have cars, mortgages, student loans, and medical debt.
And every two weeks, when our paychecks come in…guess where they go.
To paying off all of the debt we have!
And we get stuck in a terrible cycle of needing to take on more debt just to be able to pay on the debt we already have!
Well over the holidays you have an opportunity to break free of this habit.
You have an opportunity to change your relationship with money…and change your life, and the lives of your family members.
Stay away from debt this Christmas.
Table of contents:
1. Create a Budget
1. Create a Budget
Oh no! The dreaded “B” word.
Budgets might seem limiting, but it is the #1 way to get out of debt.
And budgets are an awesome tool to plan ahead for the holidays.
The holidays are not a surprise, not an emergency. They happen at the same time every year…and YOU need to plan for them in advance…or suffer in debt later on.
How to Make a Budget:
First, come up with an approximate total number.
For example 1000$.
(My fiancé and I decided to only spend 25% of our monthly take-home pay on Christmas this year)
Then make a list of people you need to buy gifts for, holiday events and gatherings, decorations and giving, and anything else you can think of!
Here is a list to get you started: Gas money to visit relatives, PJs, Christmas dinner, stockings, neighbor gifts, decorations, secret santa, coworkers, and extra heating costs.
Once you start allotting each category with part of your budget you’ll realize how quickly the money goes.
But you’ve got a plan…stan.
And you’re NOT going to go into debt over the holidays.
You’re going to be part of the very few people who actually don’t add onto the stress of their debt this Christmas!
And you rock!
You can also assign a points system to each person.
Take the money out in CA$H. If you can physically hold the money, and watch it disappear…you’ll be more aware of the limits of your budget.
For related reading check out: LEAVING COLLEGE WITH 67,000$ OF DEBT IS SCARY AF, HERE'S WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
2. Save Extra Money
2. Save Extra Money
Now that you have your handy dandy household budget…it’s time to take a quick look at it and slash it up!
I know…it sucks to make these kind of sacrifices, but in the end it pays off. You’ll be debt free and Christmas will have passed with no added debt costs.
Now back to your household budget.
Get your free holiday savings plan & budget worksheet:
Here are some categories to reduce or eliminate altogether in order to save money for Christmas this year:
Eating out fund
Home improvement fund
Get creative with your cuts. Especially if you haven’t got much time left. It’s only for a few months…so maybe cut out those extra cable channels you NEVER watch, or finally cancel that gym membership you NEVER use.
Next, open up your checking account and eliminate any recurring monthly costs that you don’t need or can live without.
For me it was:
Apps from the App Store
You’ll be surprised at the amount you can add into your monthly budget by just deleting things you never use or can live without.
Finally, save a little every month.
If you have some time before Christmas try saving a little each month in a jar or savings account labelled “The Holidays.”
Again the holidays are not a surprise.
Be proactive not reactive!
3. Earn Extra Money
3. Earn Extra Money
If the saving money approach leaves you short for your budget, you can also work to earn extra money.
The easiest way to earn more money is to pick up overtime or extra shifts at your regular job.
However, some people don’t have this option.
Below you have several options to earn extra cash for the holidays:
Walk or Babysit Dogs:
If you live in the United States you can use www.wagwalking.com or www.rover.com.
I earn between 100 and 300 extra per month just by having dogs in our house to play with our puppy.
Plus the time around the holidays is when people need help with their pups the most!
Sell Old Stuff:
Using things like facebook garage, craigslist, and secondhand clothing apps you can clear out a handful of useful things from your house. When I did this before moving to Europe I made almost an extra 1000$!
Ebates is a cash back website where you earn money for every dollar you spend online.
Last month I made 13$ from just regular purchases I made online.
If you do a lot of your holiday shopping online in stores like amazon groupon or any of the hundreds of other stores you can earn money back.
A little known fact is that flower shops need a lot of extra help around the holidays. Lots of people are buying flower and they always need more help. Drop by a local flower shop and see if you can’t pick up a weekend shift as a cashier or a florist if you’re creative. The beauty of this option is that it is seasonal, so you wouldn’t necessarily have to commit for longer.
Retail Stores: Along the same lines are retail stores. Yep, waltz on into your local mall and look for the highest paying seasonal retail job you can find. Often retail stores are in need of seasonal help as during the holidays they have a higher influx of people than normal. Plus if you work a regular 9-5 retail complements this nicely.
Sell Wrapping Paper:
Yes you can do this! No it’s not only for kids!
Driving with UBER is a great way to earn extra money and the delight of working with UBER is the immediate payout.
Meaning you can immediately take home what you earned that day. This makes driving with UBER a particularly good holiday side hustle.
Starting a Blog or Writing a Blog Post:
Starting a blog is a really good long-game plan.
It’s hard to make a ton of money on your blog right away, but you can earn a little every month.
I made money my first month blogging by following Addi Ganley’s Pinaffiliate Masterclass.
If you have any specific skills like language, music, science, arts, reading, or math it’s time to monetize that skill! Put yourself to work in a period of time where people are naturally drawn to leisure activities and starting over with their life goals!
Tutoring is great because you can earn up to 20$ per hour.
Just make sure you time your lessons right because you can easily lose 30mins going to and from classes.
If you’re looking for REALLY quick cash this is the place to get it.
It’s low risk, low payout, but you can do it from the comfort of your own home and if you sign up you get a bonus of 3$ immediately!
4. reduce spending on gifts
4. reduce spending on gifts
Americans have over 12 trillion dollars of debt.
Yes, you read that right, that’s 12 TRILLION.
And the average household has around 70,000$ of debt, not including their mortgages.
What the heck?!
Don’t let yourself be part of this trap of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
And this is especially true at Christmas time when we are all doing our best to show our families that we love them…or at least that we are making a lot of money.
Don’t fall into the trap of needing to show off for your friends or family with expensive gifts. You don’t need to do that. Get them something sentimental or handmade instead.
My grandmother passed away about 7 years ago now.
We went to her house every year for Christmas until I was 18 years old.
During that time she must have gotten me tons of barbies, clothes, electronics, and who knows what else.
There is only one gift that I still have and cherish above all of the gifts she gave me over the years...it's a hand-knit scarf.
Overall this gift must have cost her tops 5$, and a few hours of her time.
And yet it is the most precious gift she ever gave me.
That’s the kind of thinking you need this Christmas.
Not expensive watches and TVs, but things that mean something to the person you’re giving them to.
Handmade wooden boxes, knitted scarves or sweaters, handmade baby blankets or throw blankets, personalized tree ornaments, or anything else DIY or handmade that can mean a lot more than some random 50$ gift.
Even something as simple as a good book can change someone’s life and rarely costs you more than 20$.
Even your time can be more valuable to someone than impersonal, expensive gifts. Offer to help your grandmother around the house this Christmas or walk your mom’s dog while it’s below freezing.
If you’re artistic or have a skill consider using it to give gifts to family members and friends. Paint a picture, write a song for someone, take holiday photos for your sister’s family, or bake some yummy cookies to give to your coworkers.
Around 72% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck that means that some people in your extended family are likely to also be living paycheck to paycheck and with mountains of debt.
Be honest with your friends and family about your desire to cut debt out of your life and live within your means, and that this Christmas is not going to be about big, fancy gifts but ones that mean more to you.
You can also propose that your family do secret santa this year instead of giving one gift to everyone in the family…this saves everyone a TON of money.
Get your free holiday budget & savings worksheet:
Get Handmade & Minimalist
Finally, within your own home you can do some things to lower your gift cost.
Consider the minimalist rule for gift giving:
1 thing you want
1 thing you need
1 thing to wear and
1 thing to read
This is a cool exercise to do for yourself in self-control, and it’s a good way to teach your children about the value of material things.
Finally, consider celebrating your holiday after the fact. In the days following Christmas prices drop dramatically, and Christmas decorations are SUPER cheap.
If your kids are young they’ll never know the difference, and you get to drag the holiday fun out even longer.
You don’t have to fall further into the debt trap this year.
Be honest with yourself and your family and your friends, and this year could be the year that you finally break free of the ridiculous need to impress those around you, and actually contribute something of value to their lives.
In the comment section below let me know if you think I'm crazy or if these ideas make some sense to you!
Please remember that the advice and opinions given on this website and in correspondence with correlated email addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org are anecdotal and unprofessional. I am not a doctor, I am not a therapist, and I am not a healthcare professional. Consult a doctor before doing any of the recommended activities on this blog.