So you know the best way to stay debt free during Christmas is to shop throughout the year. But how do you stay debt-free if you haven’t been able to do that? Is all lost? No, but pulling off a debt-free Christmas in this situation requires a bit of craftiness – literally and figuratively. However, if you’re willing to be both creative and savvy, you can still get gifts for your friends and loved ones without going into debt.
Black Friday Keeps You in the Black
According to financial guru, Dave Ramsey, Black Friday counts among the best days to find cheap deals for Christmas. And just how much can you save by shopping Black Friday as opposed to another day during the holiday season? About 37% if 2015’s numbers are any indication. How does that play out in your wallet then? Say you have a budget of $20.00 to spend on each person on your list. Saving 37% on a $20.00 purchase means th at you’ll spend $12.60, saving $7.40.
That said, most people find that the Black Friday crowds are maddening to say the least. If you’re among them, don’t fret. You can still save on Black Friday. Just plan on shopping online in the comfort of your home.
Have a Tag Sale
Usually you don’t think about a garage sale during December, but who says a tag sale has to be a garage sale? The Life and Budget website suggests that you put your extras up for sale on Craigslist.
This prevents you from having to go outside, gives you extra cash, and keeps you debt-free. Other alternatives are sites like eBay, which also allow you to sell your extras. Just be aware that this option comes with listing fees.
You coupon to save money on your food budget. Why not save money on your Christmas budget this way, too? This is even better if you can combine the two and buy for your favorite foodie. Dave Ramsey suggests that you save coupons for yummies like cheese balls, gourmet rolls, and other treats. Then just head to your local dollar store for some food tins or fancy paper gift bags and some tissue paper, and you’re set.
Go for a Homemade Touch
The Debt Steps website suggests adding a personal touch to your Christmas shopping endeavors by making gifts. If you’re crafty at all, this can be a cheap and thoughtful way to go.
And chances are if you are the crafty type, then you already have many of the materials you need to make gifts already on-hand, which also saves you money. If you’re an artist, draw portraits. If you crochet, knit afghans. If you bake, make some cookies. These types of items say to their recipients that you’ve put some thought into their gifts. This might be a bigger bonus than saving money in the long run.
Work a Little More…
Part-time holiday jobs count as one of the best ways to manage debt that there is. For one thing, your holiday-season job gives you the cash you need to pay for your Christmas gifts. However, it has an added benefit. If you work two jobs – one for 40 hours a week and one for 20 to 30 hours a week – during the holiday season, you’ll have less time to spend money frivolously. And if you plan on shopping during online sales days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can save money and your aching feet at the same time.
Cut Expenses Elsewhere
We’ve already talked about couponing, but how about just cutting expenses in general and funneling the savings into your Christmas budget. How can you do that? A number of ways exist. Think about simple three or four ingredient meals that you plan ahead. One-pot meals are great for this. Swap babysitting duties with a friend to save on childcare. Trade in an unused second car for a car share membership.
Shop on Clearance
If you do decide to venture out instead of shopping online, why not hit the clearance racks? Some of the items you’ll find will be seasonal true enough, but if you have a friend who’s planning a honeymoon in a tropical locale, that bathing suit and towel set that you find for $12.00 on clearance might be just the perfect Christmas gift. In this way, you’re tapping into your financial creativity as Debt Steps suggests, and you’re giving your loved ones gifts they’d like.
Remaining debt-free during the Christmas holiday season is a matter of savvy budgeting and good planning. From taking up an extra job to cutting out coupons, the ways to save are myriad.
However, most financial experts agree that the best way to stay out of debt during Christmas is to shop year-round. Start with the after-Christmas sales and keep picking up inexpensive items throughout the year. That way, you’ll stay on budget and you’ll have a more stress-free holiday season to boot.