November 27th, 2013

How to Prevent Debt During the Holiday Season


How to Prevent Debt During the Holiday Season | Credit Karma Blog

**Today’s guest post is contributed by Lauren.**


The holidays can decimate your finances if you’re not careful, which is why it makes sense to be prepared. There are numerous ways to prevent debt during the holiday season, but the one factor all of these tactics have in common is that they require planning and forethought. If you want to save your wallet later on, clear your schedule and mentally prepare yourself for the holiday season.

Make a Budget

Unless you are fabulously wealthy (in which case, good for you!) you should set a budget for your holiday spending. The best way to do this is to pick a total amount you feel the most comfortable with spending, make a list of everyone you have to buy for, and then divide your total amount by the number of people you have to buy for. Adjust this number for those you feel you should spend more on (such as a significant other or parents) and those you could get away with gifting homemade or inexpensive gifts (co-workers or distant relations.) Even if you only loosely follow your budget, at least you have a guideline for how much you’d like to spend, and this will help keep holiday spending in check.

Avoid Sales

It is a retailer’s primary goal during the holiday season to get consumers to spend more. After all, you are already out spending! The best way to stay in control of your holiday budget is to avoid the sales that encourage you to spend more, such as flash sales or BOGO’s. Many stores offer deep discounts on merchandise both before and after Christmas. To keep your holiday budget on track, only shop sales for predetermined items and then leave the store with only those items. It is very important you stick to this rule!

Shop Early

I know each year I will need to buy a gift for each member of my immediate family. Because I know I will need gifts for these family members, I shop throughout the year for my mom, dad, and brother. This helps “break up” my holiday spending, since I’m not spending so much in one month, and helps me avoid the seductive holiday sales (see above) during the busy holiday season.

Save on Holiday Travel

Holiday travel is another area where planning ahead could save you big money. Buying early not only allows you to spread out your spending over several months, but also typically results in a cheaper trip. Flight prices are often more expensive around the holidays, and grow increasingly more expensive from year to year.

Most often, people pay to travel to see their families and provide them with a gift. Why not do one or the other? This can help defray costs while keeping the spirit of the season. It should also be noted that spending on travel while you are in debt or paying off debt is usually a bad idea.

Declare a “No Spend” Christmas

There is nothing wrong with telling your friends and loved ones that you are having a “no spend” Christmas. If your financial priorities dictate a big milestone—such as a house, baby, or other large expenditure—quietly explain this to your family or friend planning the party and let them know you won’t be able to provide gifts this year. There are many low-to-no-spend options for gifts that can still let others know you are thinking of them.

Taking the time to plan your holiday expenditures is the only way to save yourself from being surprised by a whopping credit card bill or having to make late payments on your other loans come January.


Lauren Bowling is a personal finance writer at ReadyForZero, a website that helps people get out of debt faster on their own. She enjoys writing about all things finance, relationships, and self-esteem.

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December 14th, 2012

Managing Your Online Holiday Spending

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With online shopping up 13 percent over last year, cyber space will be crowded with last-minute shoppers over the next several days. The convenience of shopping online is matched only by the great deals to be found. There is a strategy to getting the best price and staying safe, however, so consider these tips before clicking “purchase.”

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February 7th, 2012

Why You Should Spend Valentine’s Day Alone

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The most romantic day of the year is getting more expensive. Consumers this year are expected to spend an average of $200, which is up eight percent from last year. For the same price, you can get a Kindle Fire, six-and-a-half shares of Facebook or a round-trip plane ticket from San Francisco and Los Angeles.

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December 21st, 2011

Chicken-Fried Generosity: ‘Tis the Seasoning of Giving

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Recently, the Credit Karma content team went out to lunch for chicken and waffles in honor of Bethy’s birthday. My order happened to take 15 minutes longer than everyone else’s, so the chicken and waffle baroness behind the counter gave me an extra piece of chicken and an extra waffle. It was pretty much the best thing that ever happened to me.

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December 16th, 2011

Friday Roundup: 6 Ways to Waste Money During the Holidays

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6 Ways to Waste Money During the Holidays "What’s a few extra dollars here or there when holiday sales offer such a banquet of deals? It can’t hurt to blow the budget once a year. After all, you won’t have to pay down those credit cards until January, right? Wrong! No matter how caught up you get in the holiday-spending spirit, you should never compromise your budget and financial health. Here are six common ways holiday shoppers waste money, along with practical solutions to avoid such overspending." Financial Highway

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December 14th, 2011

Wednesday Roundup: 3 Ways to Recover from a Holiday Spending Hangover

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3 Ways to Recover from a Holiday Spending Hangover "There is still time before the holidays, but if you’re already feeling anxious about how much you have/will spend, don’t despair because you can recover – just don’t use breaking the budget a little bit as a justification for breaking it a ton! Here are a few tips that will help you get back on track and pay off the credit cards and/or get your bank balance back up." MoneyNing

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December 9th, 2011

Friday Roundup: The Value of Earning a Side Income

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The Value of Earning a Side Income "Even a relatively small amount of extra cash can go a long way. To show you what I mean, let’s look at two examples–retirement (with a good chunk of side income) and credit card debt (with a relatively small amount of side income)." My Journey to Millions

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December 7th, 2011

Wednesday Roundup: How to Stop Buying Gifts Without Being a Scrooge

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How to Stop Buying Gifts Without Being a Scrooge "You don’t have to be a Scrooge or a Grinch to want to skip Christmas. The average person spends hundreds of dollars on merchandise over the course of the holiday season, and that’s money some cash-strapped Americans just can’t afford to throw around in a tough economy." Bundle

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December 2nd, 2011

Friday Roundup: Finding Things to Do That Don’t Involve Continually Spending Money

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Finding Things to Do That Don’t Involve Continually Spending Money "Whenever an experience requires you to spend money, requires you to spend additional money beyond what you would normally spend, or heavily involves spending money, you should rethink whether or not you want to engage in that activity. Instead, it’s really worth your time to find things you enjoy doing that don’t involve spending money." The Simple Dollar

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November 30th, 2011

Wednesday Roundup: 25 Awful Things that Still Beat Shopping on Black Friday

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25 Awful Things that Still Beat Shopping on Black Friday Black Friday is a marketing gimmick to get consumers out to the store to spend their hard-earned cash on a bunch of shit that they and their loved ones don’t need. It’s evil. And it’s incredibly effective." 20 Something Finance

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