Surviving The Holidays With NO Debt!

Last year, Americans found themselves in debt averaging around $1,073 after the holiday season! According to a study done by Magnify Money, 1 out of every 4 Americans will be in holiday debt in 2016. That, on top of other debt obligations, can cause a lot of financial stress for the average family. Many times, unassuming consumers don’t realize just how long it will take to pay off their holiday spending sprees. They make goals to have everything paid off by the end of January, but more often than not, shoppers find themselves paying off holiday debt for several months, and sometimes even years.

Imagine planning your holiday spending, while still worrying about paying off your debt from the previous year! This reality is true for many, but it doesn’t have to be for you.

There are many ways to survive the holidays without going into debt; it just takes a bit of planning, and a lot of self-control.

Prepare for January

When January finally arrives, there is a sense of relief felt by most. Finally, the holiday season is over and the stress can subside. New beginnings, right?

Wrong. That’s is, if you’re dealing with credit card debt.

Receiving that December credit card statement can hit you like a ton of bricks, and all of a sudden your new year’s goals of traveling and experiencing new things becomes completely overshadowed by last year’s debts and how you’re going to pay them back.

Go into your holiday shopping with January in mind. Don’t let the new year sneak up on you and catch you off guard. Budget and plan for a financially stress free 2017; your spending habits will follow suit.

Think about Side Gigging

One of the most practical ways to afford holiday spending is to make more money, and fortunately, this is completely doable. This time of year is full of seasonal work opportunities that can benefit your spending budget, and offer flexible hours to fit your schedule.

Now working an extra job may not be ideal, but on a temporary basis the extra work could be a less expensive option than taking out loans or using credit that accrues interest. Work hard now and enjoy the rest of your year later!

Don’t Become Another Statistic

Remember, as you’re starting your holiday shopping, knowledge is power. Holiday sales are expected to jump by 3% in 2016, and consumers are predicted to spend more than ever, with 14% of consumers forecasted to spend more than the previous year. With that being said, since average American incomes have yet to see a huge increase, we can expect that holiday debt will also be extremely high. Don’t allow the draw of sales and big ticket items to ruin your financial standing.  Although credit cards are the preferred method of paying for gifts, change things up; only pay in cash.

Debt is burdensome and no one wants it lingering over their heads. Go into 2017 with no additional debt due to holiday spending, and start your year off on a great foot!

Saving Money During The Holidays

The most wonderful time of year can also be the most stressful. Between making holiday travel plans, and finding the perfect gifts for your loved ones, saving money can feel impossible. However, putting aside money and taking care of holiday expenses is still doable with a bit of preparation and serious discipline. Check out our 10 tips on putting aside extra cash during the chaos of the holidays.

  1. Set a spending limit

This is the key to not overspend when doing your holiday shopping. Sales tags and great deals can fool you into thinking you’re actually saving money, but after adding up your holiday haul, you may be shocked at just how much money you’ve spent.

  1. Create a gift list

Between family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc. you may feel like your gift list is endless. Sit down and write out a list of everyone you want to give a gift to this season and then, with your budget in mind, start making cuts. This may sound harsh, but you might not be able to realistically buy gifts for everyone on your list, and that’s ok.

  1. Grab Some Cash

After creating your budget, take out the amount of cash you will need to purchase gifts. This prevents you from overspending. Once the money is gone, the holiday shopping is over!

  1. Put away the credit cards

Many individuals tend to get swipe happy around the holiday shopping season, and before they know it, they’ve racked up a bill that seriously sets them back. Stick to your budget and say no to the plastic.

  1. Avoid express shipping costs; buy gifts early

We’ve all been in the unfortunate situation where Christmas is around the corner, and you’re scrambling to purchase gifts that you’ve put off buying. Around the holidays, those express shipping costs are extremely high. Make your purchases now, and use regular business shipping.

  1. Consider baking

The way to just about anyone’s heart is through their stomachs. Skip out on buying expensive holiday presents this year, and give the gift of baked goods! Holiday specific goodies are not only festive, but they are a pretty frugal option when trying to save money.

  1. Teach kids financial boundaries

Your kids have probably been inundated by commercials selling them all the latest toys and gadgets. Instead of buying them every toy on their wish list, explain to them that gifts cost money and money doesn’t grow on trees. Even Santa has a Christmas budget to adhere to.

  1. Pay attention to sales

Discounts are everywhere during this time of the year. Hit them up and save a small chunk of change. Nothing wrong with purchasing last year’s hot ticket item at a discount!

  1. Hit up holiday freebies

There are plenty of things to do around the holidays. Get creative and meet up with friends for ice skating, or take your family on a drive to see Christmas lights. Not everything worth doing costs money.

  1. Remember the spirit of the holidays

At the end of the day, the holiday season is a special time of year and a great opportunity to spend much needed time with those you care about. Don’t get too caught up in spending and gift giving, and forget just how great the holiday season can be!

Winterize Your Life

As the weather becomes brisker, and the leaves begin to change colors and fall, you should take some time to prepare your home for winter. Doing these things ahead of time can save you money in the long-run, and prevent you from being out in the cold.

Heating System Tune-up

You should change your filter monthly. Have an HVAC technician give your system a good once over. Fixing something before it is irreparable could save you time, money and stress; one faulty part could cause a trickle-down effect. You’ll also save yourself from paying an “emergency rate” for after hours or weekend work when something breaks unexpectedly.

If you have a gas heater, pick up a carbon monoxide detector at the hardware store. Don’t forget to reverse your ceiling fans to push heated air down from the ceiling.

Finally, do a quick check of the weather-stripping around your doors and windows. Replace where you feel cool air coming in to keep your heat from escaping.

Clean and Inspect Your Roof and Gutters

Clear any debris from your roof that may cause snow to accumulate and add unnecessary weight. Also, clean any fall leaves from your gutters as clogged gutters will cause water to spill over and freeze on walkways next to your foundation.

Disconnect hoses and use an indoor valve if possible to shutoff water leading to outside faucets. If you have a back-up generator, test it out and make sure you have plenty of fuel on hand.

Stow your lawn equipment

Before winter weather arrives, run your mower until the tank is dry. Leaving fuel in the tank over the winter will cause difficulty when you try to start it in the spring.

Prune Trees

Prune any limbs that are close to your home or hanging over power lines leading to your home, but do not get overzealous! Horticulturists advise waiting until late winter to prune most plants when they’ve been dormant for months and sprint growth is just about to begin. Only prune the limbs that may cause winter problems.

Inspect Your Chimney

If you’re planning on setting the mood with your fireplace, this one is a MUST. Call a certified chimney sweep to inspect the chimney and vents. This can prevent chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace.

Prepare Winter Emergency Kit

  • Buy a fire extinguisher, or check the charge on the one you already have
  • Keep some non-perishable and semi-perishable foods on hand
  • Forego the candles for LED flashlights, hundreds of fires are started every year during power outages by candles
  • Know where your tools are in case you have to do any mini repairs in the midst of a storm
  • Make sure your cell phone is charged and buy a car charger in case you need to top it off while your power is out
  • Keep plenty of adequate clothing and heavy blankets on hand to keep warm
  • Find some fun board games or a good book to entertain you through a night or two with no television