8 Ways to Have a Debt-Free Holiday. It happens earlier and earlier every year. The holiday music starts playing at the start of November, and the stores have holiday items out before Halloween is even over. And the commercials for toys, as well as the toy catalogs from Target and Amazon! That’s when I really start to feel anxious. What will we get for our relatives this year? How will we show our appreciation for people like teachers and daycare providers without wearing out our credit card? Don’t worry … here’s some help with 8 ideas for a debt-free holiday with various cards!
- Have a plan. Yes, this means using that dirty word: budget. I set up a budget in Excel every year and love it because I can easily set formulas to do the addition and subtraction for me. This way I can play with numbers to see how much I actually have available to spend on each person on my shopping list. If doing a budget in Excel isn’t your thing, head to www.homeeverafter.com/christmas-shopping-list-planner-budget-spreadsheet-free-printablefor a free downloadable and printable holiday budget planner.
- Rack up the credit card reward points, but only if you can handle it. If your credit card has a rewards program where you can get gift cards based on how much money you put on your credit card, use it. Caution: you must be able to pay off every cent you put on by the due date. If you don’t have it budgeted, don’t spend it. I’m able to earn a few hundred dollars’ worth of gift cards for holiday spending every year using this system, which I can then use to shop or just give the gift card as a gift itself. If you go to http://www.creditcards.com/reward.php, they compare the top credit card reward programs for you.
- Rack up the MyPoints. I’ve been a member of www.MyPoints.comfor many years and have earned gift cards not only by reading emails (5 points each), but by sometimes spending money with certain merchants they support. I’m quickly working toward saving up 10,000 MyPoints, which will equal $50 cash in my PayPal account. The bonus is that I use my credit card to purchase gifts I would have bought anyway, so I double my holiday earning power. Pro tip: Also check out Swagbucks, Fetch, and Receipt Hog!
- Make it yourself! Gifts in a jar (www.TipJunkie.com/jar-homemade-gifts), like cookie, cake, pie and drink mixes and other homemade treats always go over well, and they are cheap to make! Put them in reusable containers, and you’ve gone green, as well!
- Give up on trying to impress. Sure, the mailman would dig a $100 gift card to a local restaurant (who wouldn’t?!), and your sitter would love a $100 iTunes card, but you probably can’t afford that or you wouldn’t be reading this article. Do what you can and let people appreciate you for who you are!
- Sell stuff. Getting rid of your clutter not only makes you money, but it also makes room for incoming holiday gifts. You can sell books, toys, clothes, movies, music and more at consignment shops, Facebook Marketplace, and www.Craigslist.com.
- Buy used. Now that your “trash” is going out of your house, you can find “treasure” at thrift shops, consignment shops, garage sales, www.Amazon.comand www.eBay.com. What a great way to save at least 50% on items you’re looking for.
- Buy nothing! To stay out of debt, consider not buying a gift for your spouse and letting him or her know you want nothing but to live a debt-free life full of security and hope for the future. If you just can’t stomach that, it can be a fun time trying to find something for each other on a $10 budget each! A love poem is free and goes a long way in my house.