How to Tackle Holiday Debt Before It Begins

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As the air turns crisp and the leaves change color, you realize that the holidays are right around the corner. If you’re planning to celebrate this year, here are some ways to have a great time this holiday season without breaking the bank.

  1. Budget: You knew I was going to start with the “B” word, didn’t you? As spontaneous and loving as we all like to be during the holidays, an enjoyable season starts with planning. Figure out how much you can spend this year, and don’t forget to include entertaining, decorations, cards, gifts travel costs and year-end tips to service providers.
  2. Make a list (and check it twice): Saint Nick is making his list, and so should you, with the names of everyone you want to give a gift to, how much of your gift budget you can spend on each, and some ideas of what gifts might fit that budget. You should continue to reference this list and keep it as a living hub that you can reference as you shop or make notes to compare prices.
  3. Give from the heart: The holidays aren’t about buying the latest great electronics. Put joy into the holidays by sharing your love and creating memories that will easily outlast whatever is sitting under the tree. It’s not too late to make something handmade, be it a knitted scarf, a handicraft, or cookies and fudge. Or give a promise for the new year – coupons good for a garage clean-out, babysitting, a catered home cooked meal, a special scrapbook, or even the Hug-of-the-Month club can bring a smile to someone’s face and joy to their heart.
  4. Compare prices: Don’t just assume that you are getting the best deal on Black Friday, or that the latest advertised sale price from your go-to department store is a bargain. Download a price comparison app to quickly and easily find great deals on everything you’re already planning to buy.
  5. Buy one big gift for the family: Kids love getting and opening gifts, so the more presents the better. You can stretch your holiday budget by buying smaller, lower cost gifts such as candy, books, and inexpensive toys. Use the money you save to buy that one big thing your kids have been begging for that will make their holiday unforgettable.
  6. Use credit cards wisely: If you haven’t saved enough to pay for all your holiday expenses, it’s OK to use a credit card as long as you have a plan for paying it off. Try not to run up more debt than you can pay off in a few months, so you don’t find yourself piling next year’s holiday spending on top of this year’s debt. The best present you can give yourself is a debt-free future.

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