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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November 22nd, 2013

Link Roundup: Ways to Make Do With What You Have

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Ways to Make Do With What You Have "Have you heard the old saying: “Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”? I grew up with this, in theory and in practice. We were poor, Mom and Dad lived every day showing us what it meant to ‘make it do’ and we often ‘did without’. Here are my thoughts on frugal ways to make things do." Prairie Eco-Thrifter

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September 27th, 2013

Link Roundup: 5 Money Excuses That Held Me Back

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5 Money Excuses That Held Me Back "...This past weekend, I resembled the person I once was: a gal who made a handful of money excuses. Here’s how those excuses held me back and what I did to overcome them." Get Rich Slowly

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April 19th, 2013

Link Roundup: The Unemployment Diet: How We Cut Our Spending by $1,000 a Month

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The Unemployment Diet: How We Cut Our Spending by $1,000 a Month "One Tuesday morning last November my husband called from work and told me to sit down—and not get mad. Whenever a phone call starts that way, you just know it’s not going to end well." Five Cent Nickel

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January 11th, 2012

Wednesday Roundup: Top 10 States for New Year’s Weight Loss Plan Signups

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Top 10 states for New Year's weight loss plan signups "When Americans make the resolution to lose weight every year, some head off to the gym to tone their bodies, while others sign up for weight loss programs to change their diets. Bye, bye holiday pie. Hello, Weight Watchers." Bundle

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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 5th, 2011

The Deal That Wasn’t a Deal

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The situation: I wanted a new coffee maker. The enticement: Gilt, a flash sale site, was having a special sale on fancy coffee and espresso makers. The one I wanted was $79, marked down from $145. Here’s how the chat with my husband went.

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November 23rd, 2011

Wednesday Roundup: Why Can’t We Have Our Cake and Eat It Too?

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Why Can’t We Have Our Cake and Eat It Too? "The English proverb tells us that we can’t have our cake and eat it too. I’ve often struggled to understand exactly what that means. I guess it’s supposed to imply that we can’t have it both ways. How can we preserve something of value if we continue to consume it?" Balance Junkie

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November 16th, 2011

Wednesday Roundup: How to Spend Less Without Starting a Budget

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How to Spend Less Without Starting a Budget "Some of the most common advice for helping someone spend less is to start a budget, but this approach doesn't always work." Wise Bread

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November 12th, 2011

The Most Money I’ve Ever Spent

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Here’s some financial advice we don’t hear enough: spend your money. The best financial motivation isn’t to focus on making, saving, or investing money—instead, focus on spending it. What could I have done with an extra windfall of cash? I could have spent the money paying down my credit card debt, made an extra payment on my loans, or pumped up my savings, like most financial blogs would advise. Instead, I decided to spend it, which makes it the most money I’ve ever spent at one time. It was, without a doubt, the right financial decision.

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