Have a Happy Debt Free Christmas - 4 Ways to Save Money this Holiday Season

(My Original Blog Post: http://www.theresabloginmysoup.com/have-a-happy-debt-free-christmas-4-ways-to-save-money-this-holiday-season/)

Don't break the bank this Christmas - Shop Smart!

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="202" caption="Image via Wikipedia"]An artificial Christmas tree.[/caption]

The holidays are fast approaching, and more and more people are losing jobs. The fact is things are looking bleak.

More and more Americans are feeling the pinching claws of debt. The holidays are a joyous season.

I think of beautiful holiday music, dazzling holiday light shows, spending time with family and friends, gathering around the Christmas tree, the look on a child's face when they get that special toy they've been dreaming about. Yes Christmas and the holiday season is a magical time.

The holidays can be scary too... If you don't plan accordingly - it is very easy to go into debt fast. Most people fail to plan ahead and instead buy all the presents at the last minute, paying with a credit card.

In this financial climate, when there's no such thing as a 'secure job', when it's getting harder and harder to even get credit cards, we need to make an active stride towards planning our holiday spending.

As the old adage goes - if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.

It is better to skip Christmas, than to go broke trying to make everyone in your family happy. Especially this year, of all years.

Here are some tips that will alleviate the stress of the holiday shopping season, and will alleviate the undue burden placed on your pocketbook as well.

  1. Set a Holiday Spending Budget. One of the biggest problems people get themselves in is not setting a limit to their spending. Fact: When people have no limits they tend to go overboard. Like lemmings on a cliff.Another false thinking is that the more costly a gift, the more that person will enjoy it, or the more meaningful it will be. We all want to be loved, and accepted, especially by our friends and family - but it's not the cost that matters - it's the time and thought that went into a gift. If those around you are the few where price is an issue then you should definitely seek new friends who won't bring you down.You must set a budget, and not exceed this budget. There are two parts to this - first create a list of people who you think need gifts, and prioritize these people. Not everybody you know needs a gift from you - a simple card will suffice for many. There are two ways to stick to a budget if you find your shopping list out-pacing your budget.First you need to set a price on each person, the closer they are to you the higher your price, second you may need to decide to cut percentages, or remove some people altogether and opt for the greeting card instead.If it makes you feel guilty for not getting a gift - think of it like this, if you knew that your gift someone went out of their way to buy you, was going to put them in debt, even make them in danger of losing their home, or not being able to put food on the table - would you still want the gift?

    To be successful and frugal in this down economy we are going to have to swallow our pride and let people know that we are having some hard times and if you let them know you're thinking about them, and are genuinely sorry that you can't do more than a card, they will be understanding.

  2. Begin saving for the Holidays as early as possible.
    It may be late to be saying this as I'm writing this so close to the season. But there's still almost 2 months till Christmas if you save a little bit per paycheck even that should make things easier.

    Here's a great method of starting saving early. First decide how much you will need for next Christmas, for travel, gifts, food, etc. Divide that amount by 11 - the number of months until November. Then set up an automatic deposit into a savings account just for the holidays. You absolutely must be disciplined, this is not money that you can spend, otherwise you may end up ruining Christmas so to speak.

  3. Chop up those Credit Cards Now! This may sound bleak and disturbing, but if you want to be debt free, then you need to live on cash purchases. Credit card debt only amounts to losing thousands of dollars in interest fees. Don't get caught in this trap, it can destroy your life.The worst part of using credit cards - is making bad choices. If you must keep the card - then put it somewhere safe like a block of ice in the freezer, or in a safety deposit box. This will make you seriously consider each and every purchase, and you will find many purchases aren't absolute needs, and you will be less likely to spend frivolously.

  4. Be like Santa: Check your list, and check it twice - see who's Naughty or Nice. You only have two months left this year, and if you don't have everything saved up, you may just need to cut some people off your list this year. This sounds harsh, but now that you know how to have a frugal christmas - next year you can spend double to make up for it.Whatever you do don't go into debt. It's better to not spend any money than to go into debt - make that your mantra.

Last and not least if you are still having troubles getting out of debt, or it seems nearly impossible - you may need to seek help. Debt Clear is a great program for people with large debts 10,000+. They help you negotiate lower debts, and workout payment plans with your credit card companies. I highly recommend giving them a try: Legally Erase Your Credit Card Debt Today!

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