Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for many people. Shopping, office parties, school programs, concerts, local parades and events…it is really easy to over commit, get busy with everything, and forget to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas altogether. This year, make the holidays less hectic, less expensive, and see how having a minimalist Christmas can increase your credit score.
This post is sponsored by CreditRepair.com. All opinions are mine alone and are honestly conveyed
While it may be tempting to want to spend a lot of money and rack up a lot of debt, it really isn’t necessary in order to have a wonderful and fulfilling holiday. So, if you are working on paying down bills and improving your credit, these tips will help.
Limit the Christmas gifts
This year, minimize the gifts and ask your child what two or three items are that they’d really like to receive. Instead of helping put together a wish list that is a mile long, help them decide which items they would actually use and appreciate the most.
For adults, limiting the gifts can still be fun. Here are few ideas to help your family organize the limited gift-giving:
Have each adult family member draw one name and then buy a gift for just that person—so they get their own secret Santa. No one finds out who is buying for who until the gifts are opened on Christmas day. Each person writes their name on a paper with either a few gift ideas or just general things that they like—just so the person drawing the name has a sense of what type of gift to buy. Set a gift budget of $25 or $50 dollars, for example. Everyone get a gift and it’s much less expensive than buying gifts for everyone!
Random gift drawing
Have a random drawing. Everyone who wants to participate buys a gift for a set dollar amount that would be appropriate for anyone to receive (gift cards, money, lotto tickets, etc.), then draw to see what number you get—that’s the order that gifts will be chosen. When it’s your turn, you can take a gift that has already been opened or you can take your chances and pick an un-opened gift. In this game, the person with the last number gets the pick of the gifts. Lots of fun and everyone ends up with something nice!
White Elephant gift exchange
Have a white elephant gift exchange—find something around the house that you don’t use anymore. You may be surprised what you find if you clean out your closet or attic! Okay, you won’t get any good gifts, but these can be pretty entertaining!
The gift of time—coupon book
Create coupons for gifts. These don’t cost a thing because you are giving of your time. For example, you could gift your time to do the following: cooking dinner one night, wash the car, clean the house, do laundry, etc. Or it doesn’t have to be chore-related. Maybe it’s letting the recipient choose the movie you watch on TV for the night, or making time for a walk, or to play a board game… you can get really creative with these!
Related post: Don’t Waste Money on Christmas Gifts that No One Wants
Don’t open a bunch of new credit cards for holiday shopping
Yes, stores are probably offering extra savings, coupons, or in-store cash if you open a new credit card, but you might want to resist the temptation. Every time you apply for a new credit card, your credit gets pulled, and too many inquiries can bring your score down. Decide ahead of time to use a credit card that you already have for whatever gifts you are going to buy, or just pay in cash.
Find free, local events
With the holiday season comes a plethora of events, concerts, and activities—many of which are free. Of course, this varies by area, but many of these events kick off in November—so be on the lookout early! You can check out your local area chamber of commerce for a list of events, check with the visitor’s bureau, or even newspapers for free events offered locally. Of course, there are several shows, concerts, and events that you must buy tickets for, however, you can have just as much fun and experience the Christmas fun at the free events too—and save a ton of money!
Make homemade Christmas crafts and decorations
One thing that I love at Christmas is all of the beautiful holiday decor. Of course, you can wait until after Christmas to buy the décor when it is on sale—and save it for next year—but you can also make your own for a fraction of the cost. Homemade crafts are a great way for kids to get involved during the holidays and you might even end up with some precious keepsakes made by your little ones. I have so many homemade ornaments on my Christmas tree every year that remind me of all the fun times that I’ve shared with my kids making them. If you are looking for some fun Christmas crafts, take a look at these posts:
And don’t forget how easy it is to make the Christmas countdown chain from strips of red and green construction paper…
Forgo Christmas gifts for a family experience
Okay, this may not work if you have small kids, but if your kids are teenagers or grown-up, taking a family vacation together and skipping gifts, might just be a good trade-off. And the vacation doesn’t need to be extravagant. Experiencing Christmas in a different location and in a different way will definitely create lasting memories! Although, if everyone has agreed to go on a trip in lieu of buying gifts, then that may free up some cash to make your holiday getaway a little bit of a splurge. And, if your family doesn’t mind waiting until January 1 to travel, you will probably also save a ton of money. Typically, the cost of travel is at a premium over the holidays when things are booked to capacity.
Have a plan to pay off your Christmas spending
Make sure you set your budget before you start spending money on Christmas gifts or travel. Saving throughout the year is a great idea, but if you haven’t done that, start planning out how much you can afford as soon as possible—and then don’t go over that limit! If you choose to use credit cards, make sure you have a plan to make those payments on-time and get them paid off quickly. When you use credit cards in this manner, you can actually help increase your credit score.