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Frugal Friday: Debt-Proof Your Christmas

Posted By Jessica Fisher On July 31, 2009 @ 2:45 am In Budget Living,Christmas,Christmas in July,Frugal Friday | 10 Comments

This week we’ve been talking and planning Christmas — in July [5]. 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 [6] as does Simple Mom [7]. 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 [8] and enter to win Mary Hunt’s Debt Proof the Holidays: How to Have an All-Cash Christmas.

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[6] a budget planner sheet: http://organizedchristmas.com/printable/christmas-countdown/holiday-budget

[7] Simple Mom: http://simplemom.net/budget-for-christmas/

[8] my giveaway page: http://lifeasmomreviews.blogspot.com/

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