How much money are you planning on spending this year during the holidays?
For the average American family, it’s a good chunk of change. During the 2017 holiday season, Bank of America found that of those surveyed, they spent on average $1,143 for purchases.
Another survey found that respondents spent over $600 on gifts for friends, family, and coworkers.
While being generous is a fantastic quality, some families are struggling to stay debt-free during the holidays.
Stay Debt Free This Holiday Season
The good news is that you can spend time with your loved ones and create cherished memories without having to rely on credit cards to cover the bills.
You’d not only be saving money, but you’d also be reducing stress as you don’t have that debt hanging over you after the celebrations.
Want to know how? Here are seven ways you can skip the debt this year!
Create a Budget for the Holidays
Did I really start this list with making a budget?
When people hear budgets, their first thought is typically restrictions, but that’s not true.
A budget is simply a way to prioritize your time and money so you’re getting the most out of both.
As parents, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with a ton of different invitations to different parties.
When you have a firm number, you’re better able to keep your spending in check and avoid unnecessary debt.
Better yet, you can make things even easier on yourself by creating a goal on Mint to automatically track your spending so you can see if you’re getting close to your limit.
That frees you up to focus on the big picture.
Don’t Procrastinate on Shopping
Don’t let advertisers dictate when you buy your gifts. If you’re planning on purchasing gifts, start shopping now if you haven’t already.
Black Friday can snag you some deals, but it’s also a trap for you to get stuck in long lines and extra spending. That’s a recipe for more stress, which you don’t need.
Take off some stress and pressure by pacing your purchases. If you created your budget, go ahead and break it down by paycheck.
That allows you to pick up gifts at more quieter times and give you time to really think about what you’d like to give.
Become a Deal Hunter
Black Friday is the best-advertised sale by far during the holidays, but you can still snatch up some fantastic deals.
If you’re shopping online, use apps and sites like Honey and RetailMeNot to find promo codes and coupons to save even more.
If you’re a fan of a particular brand, joining their newsletter may give you some additional access to sales and a heads up on steep discounts.
And once the shopping season is done, you can use a service like Unroll.me to unsubscribe to all those newsletters!
Think Personal Gifts
I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s important – There’s no rule that you have to buy your gifts.
Have you thought about instead getting supplies and setting aside a weekend or two to craft something special? You don’t have to be the king or queen of crafts to make something special.
A personal note with some sweets for your co-worker can be a more meaningful gift than the regular random $20 gift.
One of our hobbies was homebrewing. Not only did we get to enjoy our work, but we shared. We used to make batches of our friends’ favorite brews as gifts and came up with fun names using inside jokes for the brews.
Suggest a Gift Exchange
A trend that’s really helpful with keeping your budget in check are gift exchanges.
Every person gets assign one gift to buy instead of several small ones for every person in the office or family.
It’s much less stressful as you’re able to focus on finding a gift for a specific person rather than running around several stores to hit everyone on your list.
And on the environmental and minimalism side, you’re also reducing the amount of clutter and stuff around the house.
Keep Travel Cheap
Many people visit their loved ones during the holiday season and if you have kids, it can get pricey quick.
Add in that you’re traveling during the popular season and it can be a recipe for a budget disaster. You have to wise with your reservations.
Use sites like Priceline, Kayak, and Trivago to scour deals and save even more money on your hotel and flights.
Google Flights can make finding flights much easier as they can track trends with prices and offer suggestions about when to buy.
When I shared how we snatched up a hotel for $50/night in Los Angeles on Twitter, someone asked how we were able to get it.
The short answer is we shop around and make sure we take advantage of every deal feature we can find.
Many travel sites will price match and more are offering express deals with hotels. With this one-two combo, we’ve been able to minimize expenses while still finding wonderful hotels to stay in.
Take a Frugal and Fun Road Trip
Out of the estimated 54 million Americans traveled during the holidays, the vast majority did theirs by car. This year will most likely be the same.
Apps like GasBuddy can help you while you’re on the road to find the best deals on gas. If you’re doing a long trip, that can be a big cost saver.
When you have kids snacks can slow you down and be a big budget buster if you’re making several stops. The best way to keep costs in check is by packing smart.
Grab those bigger bags of chips, granola bars, and whatever you enjoy before you leave. You’ll get a much better price than what’s offered at those gas stations on the road.
Taking along reusable cups can also keep costs down and your car cleaner with less junk in the back seat!
However you wrap up this year, please enjoy it! I hope these tips help you have a fantastic time with your loved ones this year while skipping the debt and reducing the stress. If you have any tips, you’d like to add, please let me know!