I’ll be fine and dandy, Lord it’s like a… credit card Christmas. I’m barely getting through tomorrow… But still I won’t let… spending get me way down…
Did you think I was going for a “hard candy” Christmas? You probably even started to sing along, didn’t you? Don’t be shy… I know you heard the tune and now it’s stuck in your head, am I right?!
Well, it may or may not be a “hard candy” Christmas for you, but it certainly is going to be a credit card Christmas for millions of Americans this year. A recent Holiday Spending Survey, found that the average individual plans to spend $738 for Christmas this year. When you add that up for the 245 million adults that plan on doing this shopping, you reach a staggering figure of $181 billion on gifts this holiday season!
If you were floored by that figure, wait until you hear this… of those 245 million shoppers, 64 percent of them will use credit cards, or some form of debt, to buy those gifts! So within the next couple of weeks, over $103 billion dollars in debt will be acquired by Americans just for Christmas shopping.
So, how can you keep yourself from having a credit card Christmas?
If you haven’t been planning throughout the year already, you can’t really change that at this point, but there are a few things that you can do to help yourself from relying totally on credit cards to pay for Christmas:
Use cash—yes, obvious, but as much as you can, use cash. Using cash keeps you in the clear, so you don’t have to worry about compounding interest on those high interest rate cards. Even if you pay for half of your gifts in cash, that will be less to pay off in January. Every small step that you can take to paying off debt makes a huge difference!
Pay off credit quickly—sometimes it makes sense to use credit. Maybe you get a store discount for using their store credit card—and that can actually save you money, but only if you take advantage of the savings and pay the bill off as soon as it arrives next month.
Don’t buy gifts that people don’t want—this one gets a bit tricky, but let me explain what I mean. Have you ever opened a gift and had to try to grin and say thank you when you have no idea what it is? Perhaps you received a gift, like a $30 canister of gourmet popcorn and thought, “I would have rather had the money that was spent on that instead.” You know, the nice gift that you really didn’t need or want. The one that may never be used… I think that we’ve all received them, and probably even given them. So this year, if you aren’t sure about what to buy, give something that is more meaningful… and here are a few ideas:
- For new parents or parents of toddlers—offer babysitting as your gift. Seriously, any new parent or parent of a toddler knows that free babysitting is pure GOLD. I guarantee they will love this gift!
- For grandparents— make a keepsake ornament from the kids. Grandparents love anything that is made by their grandchildren, so whether it’s a handprint ornament, craft, or special card, it will be way more meaningful that then sweatshirt that says “World’s Best Grandpa.” I’ll let you in on a secret: No one really wants to wear these shirts. Ever.
- For mom and dad—dad doesn’t need another tie, and mom doesn’t want kitchen utensils. They probably just want some extra time with you. So, instead of spending money on something that they don’t really need, invite mom out to lunch just because, make time to go on that hunting trip with dad that you have been too busy to take… they will appreciate this much more…
- For your kids—as parents we want to make sure that our kids have a HUGE pile of gifts to open. Because what is better than the joy on their faces and they run downstairs on Christmas morning to see all the wonderful packages that Santa left?! But, we all know that joy only lasts as long as there are more gifts to tear open and when the dust settles, the kids play with their new loot for about 5 minutes and then life goes back to normal—and all those big bucks you spent to fulfil every Christmas list wish are seemingly wasted… talk to your kids about the true meaning of Christmas and find a way to have them learn the joy of giving… that will last for them a lot longer than getting the hottest, most expensive toy of the season…
Just because it seems like everyone around you is giving and receiving the latest and greatest gifts this season, based on the recent Holiday Spending Survey, they may very well be going into debt to do so.
Check out one of my posts, 10 Ways to Avoid Overspending This Year for Christmas and find out even more ways to get the perfect gift without overspending and going into debt.