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Frugal Friday: Debt-Proof Your Christmas


This week we’ve been talking and planning Christmas — in July. It’s a great way to think through the holiday season and what you want to do differently. Clearer thoughts prevail when Walmart isn’t already playing Jingle Bells.

One important thing to consider regarding Christmas is the money part. You know the story: people try to compensate for their failings the rest of the year, spend money they don’t have, and end up paying for it well into the following year. No. no. no.

If this is you, or a shade of you, it’s time to “debt-proof” your Christmas.

Set a budget
Sit down with your holiday notebook, if you started one, or just a piece of paper, and list the people that you absolutely have to buy gifts for. Have to. Not want to. Not could. Not even should.

But have to. I count this as kids and spouse. Your have-to’s might look different. But, I’m talking bare bones. Call this List A. Then make a list of second and third string players. It would be nice to buy gifts for this crowd, but if push came to shove and you couldn’t afford it, you could downsize, or even eliminate, buying these gifts.

Now, allot what amount you think is reasonable to spend on each person on the A list. Go to Lists B and C. Realistically, you would budget less for Lists B and C, because they are less urgent on the time-money continuum. Add up that amount.

Now create a budget sheet. Organized Christmas has a budget planner sheet as does Simple Mom. List your gift allowance amount. Add something for cards, stamps, ribbons, and wrappings. If you host a holiday get-together, add that to. If it’s hard to think of numbers, look up what you spent last year. Make sure you’re sitting down. We don’t want you to have a heart attack. {You probably spent too much.}

Add up all these numbers. That’s your budget.

Squirrel away cash.
Today ends July. That means there are four months until December 1 hits. Four months to put aside money to spend on Christmas. Divide your budget amount into four. That is how much you need to save every month in a bank account, in a jar, under your mattress, wherever.

Don’t go overboard.
Is your figure too big to handle each month? Then go back and adjust your budget. Can you live without sending Christmas cards this year? Make the decision now so that you’ll feel less guilt later. How about simplifying your Christmas party? Host a dessert and coffee party instead of a full dinner. Start strategizing now where you can cut costs. Be decisive and don’t second guess yourself. Extra tinsel is not worth extra debt.

Don’t have any extra to put aside each month? Then you certainly don’t have extra to spend at Christmas! Start cutting back in your regular expenses. Sell something. Find a part-time job. Don’t be guilt-tripped into spending more than you have when it’s Christmas time in the city. Make a plan now and stick to it.

Avoid using credit.
Please don’t be suckered into spending money you don’t have. Yes, I know. You pay it off every month. So did we. Until my husband went six weeks without work. Eventually it catches up with you. Unless you are super-fastidious about bookkeeping, it’s really hard to remember all that you’re “putting on the card.” Pay cash and stick to your budget; you’ll know for positive that you aren’t spending what you don’t have.

Got a great money-saving idea? Share it with us!

In the interest of exchanging good ideas, please do not post affiliate links, giveaways or deal posts. Instead tell us what you do to stretch your dollars a little farther. Share concepts and ideas that have helped you grow in saving money and being a better steward of your resources.

Write about your money saving tip on your blog and bring the permalink to that post here. Please make sure that you link to LifeasMOM.com in your post.

If you don’t have a blog, tell us your bright idea in the comments. Can’t wait to learn some new tricks!

Interested in more ways that you can “debt-proof” your Christmas? Visit my giveaway page and enter to win Mary Hunt’s Debt Proof the Holidays: How to Have an All-Cash Christmas.

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Comments

  1. Kristin says:

    These are good points! I actually started my Christmas shopping last Saturday :-) It's Fair time and it concludes with Rediculous Days (something I've found since moving that many small towns around here do). It's basically sidewalk sales around the square and with local businesses. All of my stuff came from the book store at 70% off! I wasn't expecting to buy something but have now started my Christmas pile in my closet.

  2. Kimberly says:

    Since I went through Dave Ramsey's FPU class back in the spring, we started our Christmas Envelope in April. Every month since then we've been putting money aside. Looks like we are already ahead of the game, so if I see a good deal during back-to-school tax free sales, I can go ahead and buy presents early. I've never been able to do that before!

  3. Kaye - SandwichINK says:

    How fun to find others, besides myself, already thinking about planning for the holidays. My article today was a review of a fun Kids' Craft Magazine with fun, easy, and inexpensive ideas for kids and parents/grandparents to make together. It included harvest and Christmas projects, enabling us to get a jumpstart on the season. And by teaching our kids and grandkids to make at least some of their gifts, we are teaching them lifelong habits of making vs. buying. :)

  4. The Prudent Homemaker says:

    A couple of months ago, I wrote a list of what I will be giving each child for Christmas.

    I am making almost all of the gifts, as I have done the last few years. I am not planning on outlaying much money at all, as I am using fabric and patterns I already have on hand (and free internet tutorials).

    Most of the gifts are needs, as well–new pajamas, new dresses, etc. Some are fun, like dress-up clothes (cloth crowns, for example).

  5. This is the time of year that I, too, start thinking about Christmas gifts. I look to my garden harvest, the abundance of wild berries in my area, and the flowers and plants that are blooming and growing this time of year. I make many of my Christmas gifts using this nature's bounty. Canned salsa and home-made chips, home-made Worchestershire sauce with recipes for its use, canned mincemeatwith a beautiful pie pan and recipe for great pie crust, pickles of all sorts with a pickle grabber from the kitchen utensil department, canned spaghetti sauce with home-made pasta, wrapped in a cool pasta bowl, with a pasta server utensil, dried wild blueberries for my far away relatives and friends, Canned fruit syrups with our secret "camp pancake" mix, matted and framed pressed flowers and or leaves, placemats with leaf prints pounded into the fabric, beautiful colored eggs dyed with colors from nature, matted and framed photos of closeups of my flowers, and the insects that love them…
    there are a multitude of low cost, free, home made gift ideas if you just use your imagination. I also like to make useable, and practical items such as pillowcases, table linens, cute outfits for the kids, etc.
    I also cruise the arts and craft shows that are so prevalent during the summer, and look for ideas for things that I can make, now, while I have the time, before the big Christmas rush.
    I saw a gorgeous garden ornament made of copper pipe, copper wire, and broken glass, at a recent art show that sold for $50. I went to our local hardware store and got what I needed for < $10, and have enough materials to make 3 of those! Now I just have to decide who the lucky two other people will be! (I'm keeping one of these for myself!)
    I have recently lost my job so this Christmas will be a test of my frugal skills, but I know that if I just keep from wandering the stores during the Christmas season, I will do just fine.

  6. After a few "loud conversations" about gift giving, my husband and I realized that we had a good idea about how much we spent on gifts each year(Christmas + birthdays). We divided the total by 12 and that's how much we put aside each month to cover it. The occasional wedding or unexpected birthday do come up but for the most part we are prepared.

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

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