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12 Nov

3 Steps To End Christmas Debt

Since you’re reading this, we’re assuming you’re already nervous you’re spending too much this holiday season. It can be hard to keep your finger from touching that “add to cart” button, especially when apps and emails make it so simple to purchase. And because they make it simple, it’s very easy to forget those little purchases you’ve made here and there until the boxes start piling up on your doorstep or the credit card bill comes in. 

Finances are already a difficult topic in most households. Christmas finances? Well, that just adds an entirely other level of stress. Not only are you trying to stick to your budget, but you’re also trying to please everyone in the family with just the right gift. 

Let’s end the cycle of big Christmas spending and then stressful January – July debt payments. So, let’s take a deep breath and start with these three steps. Now, they’re not easy. But, they’ll help your Christmas finances stay under your control. 

 

  • Use a credit card only if you can pay it off when the bill comes in.

Now, that seems like a tall order, but it doesn’t have to be. This is why we always encourage you to begin not only saving for Christmas early, but budgeting for it as well. Take a look at your statements from last year and tally up what you spent not only on gifts, but what extra you spent toward food and travel. 

Travel may not be as big of a concern this year, but getting all of this information still gives you an idea of your goal for the next year. You might be surprised at just how much you spent, not counting the interest you paid on the credit card after the holidays were over. 

So, work toward sticking to a budget you can afford now, without adding any credit card debt. We promise it makes New Year’s Day a little brighter when you know you’re starting the year fresh without new credit card debt looming. 

 

  • Discover the best Christmas planning and budgeting system for you. 

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Everyone manages their finances in different ways and Christmas time is no different. Find the system that works best for you and your family. Some options: 

    • Start a Christmas notebook. Pen and paper can sometimes be the easiest way to truly see what you’ve already purchased and how much money is left in the gift giving pot. Plus, now you have a physical record of what you spent as you begin planning for next year. 
    • Use a budgeting app with a special Christmas line item. Budget apps can be a life saver, especially as busy as everyone is these days. If you and your spouse are both purchasing gifts from the same or different accounts, it can get tricky knowing exactly how much is left in your account. Keeping your budget app up-to-date keeps you and your spouse constantly on the same page financially. 
    • Use the cash envelope system. Now, we don’t encourage you to get all of the cash out you’ll need for Christmas shopping, but only what you’ll need for each individual shopping trip. We want you to take a safe amount out of savings to carry with you. 

 

  • Start saving for next year, right now. 

We offer a Christmas Savings Account which we encourage our Signet community to use. This makes it super simple for you to save throughout the year and then receive your total Christmas spending budget mid-October. 

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If you’re using a budgeting app, be sure to set up a line item specifically for your Christmas spending.

For either option, calculate how much you need to save and divide that by the number of months you have left. If you generally spend around $800 every year and it’s 10 months to Christmas, you need to save $80 every month. 

 

Christmas brings out the best in us, but it can also make it tough for us to say no to our kids, our spouse or to our friends. It’s important to know your limits and kindly express those limits to others if necessary. 

And don’t forget to express those limits kindly to yourself too. It’s not a failure on your part if you can’t afford the biggest, most expensive gifts. You are working hard and building Christmas memories with your family and that’s what’s most important. 

 

Start A Christmas Savings Account