Christmas is a time of giving, a time for family fellowship and making memories

  What you don’t want is for this joyous occasion to be filled with stress and worry about how you are going to pay for it.  You also don’t want to wrack up a mountain of debt that will be with you until next Christmas.  Have you ever wondered if there were ways to celebrate a debt free Christmas?  Well, I am here to tell you that there is.

It’s easy to overspend.  There are tempting offers and pressures to buy, but you must decide how much you can afford before you start spending.  Christmas is NOT a reason to go into debt.  It comes the same time every year, so it shouldn’t be an unexpected expense.

Now is the perfect time to develop your plan and with these tips, I’ll try to show you some simple ways to celebrate a debt free Christmas.

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Simple Ways To Celebrate A Debt Free Christmas Make A Budget!
First thing to do when your developing a plan is to establish your budget.  If you plan on paying cash, which is what I would recommend, you need an idea of “how much” cash you’ll be able to come up with.  Once you’ve established that, write down everyone that you plan to buy for.  You take that number and divide it into the amount of cash that you plan to have and that will give you the amount that you can spend per person.

Another way to do it is to work backwards.  Say that you have 20 people to buy for.  If you set a $25 limit on each person, you’ll need to have $500 (20×25.00) saved.

You can come up with a dozen scenarios.  You may want to spend $50 on your mom.  Well, that’s $25 less out of your budget, so you may have to spend less on others.

The important thing to remember is that once you set a budget, i.e. spending limits, you must stick to them.  Remember, you’re setting limits for a reason.  Don’t even take the credit card with you when you go shopping.  That way, you have removed temptation.
Whittle Your List
I know that during this joyous time of year, we want to give.  But, when your limited on funds, it’s probably not wise to include the postman, the hair dresser, your second cousin, etc.  There have been many years, that we have had to trim the list down and even ask relatives if we could just get together for fun, food and fellowship.  That’s what really counts, anyway.  As our families grow, sometimes it just isn’t feasible to buy gifts for everyone.  You should never feel bad about this.  Sometimes, your family members might be in the same boat and will feel relieved that the subject was brought up.
Start Asking For Ideas, Early!
Once you’ve established a budget and you have your list of whom to buy for, now is the time to start asking for gift ideas.  Call or email them as soon as you can.  It may take them a little while to think about it and get back with you.  Don’t be embarrassed to let them know that you do have a budget and to think about things that fall under that amount.
Look For Ways To Save On Gifts Watch For Sales
This goes for all year.  When you see a great price on something, start buying early.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday are also opportunities to save big on gift buying.  After Christmas sales are a great way to save for the next year.
Food 
Who doesn’t like food!  You can start baking early and even freeze some things like homemade breads, cookies and some candy.  You can’t go wrong with giving food, especially to the adults.  Even those that are hard to buy for will love this!
Dollar Tree
Anyone who knows me well, knows that I love the Dollar Tree.  I shop there for stocking stuffers all year long.  They have some great merchandise that is well worth the dollar.  You can find coloring books, crayons, books, candy, etc.  One year, I found wooden cars that my grand son still plays with.  You never know what you’ll find, so it pays to shop there often and go in with an open mind.
Get Crafty
Like Dave Ramsey says, “When your trying to save money or get out of debt, Christmas is a craft”. Personally, I love receiving hand-made gifts.  It takes time and effort to do this, so it can be a very meaningful gesture.  It can also save the gift giver a lot of money.  It’s a win-win for both parties.  With the dawn of Pinterest, the sky’s the limit here.  All it takes is a little creativity.

One year, I made everyone in my family No Sew Fleece blankets.  Most of them still use their blankets, to this day.  With so many patterns to choose from, you can get very personal with each persons likes, whether they like leopard print or they have a favorite baseball or football team.  The blankets are practical AND personal.
Gift Cards
Giving gift cards ensures that you won’t go over your budget because you give exactly what your budgeted amount is.  Some may say that they seem impersonal, but if you ask the recipient what they’re favorite store is, usually a gift card is a well received gift.  I, personally, LOVE gift cards.  With them, I can get exactly what I want and there’s no guilt associated with buying something for myself.
Shop Consignment
If you haven’t shopped consignment sales lately, (or ever) you would be amazed at what people get rid of!  Toys can be found, sometimes still in the box, that are still new!  My daughter shops consignment sales for just about all of her childrens clothes.  She has scored many name brand items, such as Mud Pie, for pennies on the dollar and once they outgrow them, she’ll consign them back and make her money back!  It’s like dressing them for FREE!  Be sure to check out thrift stores, as well!  Children could care less if a toy is gently used!
Watch For Amazon Outlet Deals
Everyday, there are thousands of products being listed at a discount.

Shop Amazon Outlet – Clearance, Markdowns and Overstock Deals  You can find something for everyone on Amazon. From electronics to books and clothes to household items and name brand toys.  Amazon has it all.
Earn Extra Money
If the amount of money that you have to work with isn’t enough, now is the time to start finding ways to earn a little extra to make up the difference.  Can you take on some extra hours at your current job?  Maybe you could do some babysitting, housecleaning, sell some of your stuff on Craigslist or VarageSale or have a great big garage sale.

Are you crafty and creative?  Craft shows are getting into full swing now and are a great way to make extra money.  I did this for many years and still do decorative painting, but I no longer do craft shows.  Instead, I have an Etsy shop and I use Facebook, when I have painted items to sell.  I look for inexpensive (or free) surfaces to paint on and sell for almost 100% profit.
Limit Gifts For Your Children
Most people feel that Christmas is for the children and so often, parents (and grandparents) can blow their budgets (if they even have one) totally out of the water.  Some how, we feel inadequate, as parents, if we don’t make sure that junior gets everything he/she asks for.  Well, that is certainly not true!

Have you ever witnessed a child on gift overload?  I have!  It’s really kind of sad.  He gets so many gifts that he actually gets tired of opening them.  Or what’s worse…he ends up playing with the box that the gift came in.  We are actually doing our children and grandchildren a disservice, even though its unintentional.

The memories that your children will have about Christmas won’t necessarily be about what gifts they received.  Can you remember what you received as a kid?  Probably not, unless it was a car or some other big ticketed item.  What you remember is the fellowship with family, the smells of Christmas, the fun things you did.

So, parents, limit they’re gifts!  Please!, they will thank you and so will your checking account.
Say No To Yourself
How many times have you gone Christmas shopping, only to come home with a bag of stuff for yourself.  “Look here, Honey!  I bought myself a Christmas present!”  Yep!  Guilty!  Well, it doesn’t help your budget to spend your Christmas money on yourself…but you know that.

If you see something that you really want or can’t live without, maybe put that item on YOUR Christmas list and ask for it. Chances are, your family and friends needs some ideas from you!
Meal Planning
Now is also a great time to start thinking about or deciding on what meals you will be preparing for.  If you’re in charge of Christmas dinner, make your menu and start watching for sales.  Buy early.  Turkeys and hams will go on sale before Thanksgiving.  Go ahead and get one for Christmas, too!  If you have guest coming, most of the time, they will ask what they can bring.  Don’t be shy in telling them.  Most of the time, they will be glad that you are letting them help.  I always feel better if the host/hostess will let me contribute.  This can save a lot!

Don’t forget to include any other parties or celebrations that you may be hosting, in your budget.  Do you like to fix a breakfast casserole for Christmas morning?  Maybe you can make Monkey Bread, instead.

What ever meals you plan on serving, write them down, make your shopping list and buy early.  Start cooking/baking now and freeze, if you can.
Go Minimal On Lights and Decor
We all want our homes to reflect the joy of the season, but not at the risk of sending us into financial despair.  I mention this because this is an area that can really end up costing a lot, if you’re not careful.  When you go into any stores, whether it’s Walmart, Hobby Lobby or Lowes, you can quickly get caught up in the sparkling lights and beautiful bright colors of red and green.  Be careful that this doesn’t happen to you.

You really don’t need that much to make your home a cozy, wintertime retreat.  I will mention, again, that the Dollar Tree has some wonderful Christmas decor that can really help you decorate your home on an extremely tight budget.

Another great way to decorate is to use items from the outdoors.  Those can be practically FREE!  Magnolia leaves, evergreens like pine trees, spruce or arborvitae make gorgeous winter decor AND they smell great!  All it takes is a little bit of creativity and imagination.
Stay Close To Home
Sometimes, traveling is inevitable, but if you can, stay as close to home as possible.  If you have to fly or you have far to travel by car, airfare and hotels can totally wreck your budget.  Christmas is a time of year that we all want to be with our families, but you really need to look past the holiday and ask yourself if you can truly afford it.  If the answer is “no”, then you may need to make the difficult decision to opt out, at least for this year.  If you know that you’re going to need to travel, start a Sinking Fund for airfare as early as possible and when the time comes, you’ve got it covered.
Say No To The Joneses
This is a tough one.   Trying to keep up with other peoples spending habits will surely make you go broke.  Christmas should not be a contest on who can spend the most money.  Start by being honest with your family and friends.  Don’t try to keep up with spenders.  Chances are that they are whipping out the plastic.  Don’t do this!  You give what you can and what you can afford.  If the Joneses overspend, that’s they’re problem.  Don’t let it become yours.

Here’s a great post on how trying Keeping Up With The Joneses Will Lead Straight To The Poor House!
You Can Do It!!
So, you see?  There are many ways to celebrate a debt free Christmas!  The bottom line is do what you can with what you have.  There’s no need to go into debt over one day of the year.  Instead, focus on what the season truly offers.  It’s an opportunity to count your blessings, enjoy fellowship with your family and friends and make memories that will last a lifetime.

What are some ways that you’re avoiding debt the holiday season? Have you started saving and budgeting?

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