Ways To Stay Out of Debt During the Holidays

By April Lewis-Parks

It’s that time of year again when are days are filled with Christmas carols, ginger bread cookies, and little children who continually remain on their best behavior in hopes of making Santa’s nice list. It’s the holiday season.

It’s also that time of year when a lot of American consumers overspend and end up in debt. According to Harris Interactive 57 percent of US adults with children said that they would be willing to go into debt in order to make sure their children have a great holiday season.

Why go into debt for one day? Why not get all of the gifts, food, decorations, and everything else you need to make this holiday season special without putting a strain on your wallet.

Here are some ways to stay out of debt this holiday season:

• Create a gift list. Once this list has been created, prioritize your list. Make sure you set an amount that you will use per person.

• Pay cash for your gifts. It is easier to monitor your spending when you are paying with cash instead of plastic. There have been quite a number of studies that has shown the correlation between increased spending habits when using plastic instead of cash at checkout.

• Avoid impulse buys. One of the best ways to overspend during this time of year is to make an impulse purchase. It’s very easy to get caught up in the moment when you see something that seems like a good deal when shopping. To avoid this, stay away from items that are not on your purchasing list. If you go home and still want to buy it the next day, then go back and get it.

• When creating your Christmas budget, make sure to exclude your Christmas bonus. Always keep in mind that you can never miss what you never had. Save your bonus. It’s better to have a little lead way with you spending.

• Search around for the best place to shop for savings. You can never lose when researching prices online. Most retailers are offering the same deals online as they are in-store. But, make sure when deciding on which retailer to make a purchase from they offer free shipping.

• Offer your services as a gift. If you love to cook, offer someone free cooking lessons. If you know someone has just had a newborn child and can need a break, volunteer to babysit. Keep in mind that some of the best gifts can’t be purchased with money.

• Save money and make the most of your leftovers. During the holiday season people tend to overcook for holiday parties and other gatherings. Instead of growing tired of eating the same thing for days on end, why not recreate a totally new meal, with the leftovers in your refrigerator.

• Be a creative gift giver. Many of us have hidden talents when it comes to crafts and DIY projects. Show off your creative side and knit sweater instead of buying one from JC Penneys.

April Lewis-Parks has more than 15 years of experience in the financial sector, she is a certified financial counselor, and a consumer affairs advocate. As the director of education and public relations for Consolidated Credit she is dedicated to generating awareness about personal finance issues and acts as their consumer affairs advocate. As host the of MissMoneyBee.com, she promotes financial education and offers timely and informative personal finance articles to educate the public. April’s promotional efforts can be seen in past issues of the New York Times, Washington Post, Newsday, Consumer Reports, the Business Journals, Money Magazine, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Family Circle, among others. Connect with April on Google+.