Saturday, November 17, 2012

7 Ways Not To Go Into Debt This Christmas

Things are rough this year for many families across the country, but that doesn’t mean that you should add to your debt to make up for it this holiday season. It is okay to tell your children that Santa is broke this year. They probably already know that something is up either thanks to the news on TV or their incredible sixth sense about how grownups are feeling. One of the worst things that you can do though is trying to keep up with the status quo. Here are seven great ways to avoid adding to your debt this Christmas.

1. Use Your Credit Card Reward Points – My wife and I love to earn reward points with our credit card. We use the points at the end of each year as a way to get free gift cards that we ultimately give to our friends and family members each Christmas. Throughout the year my wife and I use our PerkStreet Financial debt card and Simmons FirstVisa Platinum Rewards credit card to earn reward points. Those reward points that we earned throughout the year help supplement our gift giving and helps to keep us from going into debt this Christmas and every holiday season.
2. Earn Free Gift Cards – One thing that I love during the holidays are the deals that retailers and especially restaurants give when you purchase gift cards to give as gifts. Many national restaurant chains offer deals such as giving away a free $10 gift card when you purchase $25 worth of gift cards. These can be great ways to get gift cards to give to your loved ones during the holidays doing something that you normally do anyway (go out to eat). You can also use these gift cards to save you money while eating out at restaurants as well. Whether you give these extra gift cards to friends or save them for yourself, they can be a great way to save money and avoid debt this Christmas.
3. Comparison Shop Online & With Smart Phone – One thing that a friend said to me recently really struck a chord. He said that he never pays retail prices online for anything. He taught me that he always looks for deals and checks comparison sites before making a purchase. He also checks websites like to find some of the best online coupons before buying any items or even services online. This was a great tip that has ultimately saved me a lot of money over the past year or so. Now you can also compare prices right on your smart phone as well.

4. Buy And Sell Unwanted Gift Cards – There are several websites such as that let you buy and sell unwanted gift cards. Most of the time, you can purchase gift cards for a discounted price. Recently on, you could buy a $25 gift card for $20 or less at certain retailers. There are several other websites that let you buy, sell, and trade unwanted gift cards as well such as and Some current deals on gift cards on Plastic Jungle let you buy gift cards at the following discounts for these retailers: 15% off at JC Penny, 20% off at Boston Market, 10% at Pottery Barn, and many other national brands.
5. Make Hard Cuts To Your List – Do your aunts and cousins really need a Christmas gift from you this year? Would they understand if you told them that you are only giving gifts to your immediate family this year in order to save money and avoid adding to your debt this Christmas season? They will most likely understand your plight because we have all been struggling these past few years.
6. Layaway Is Making A Comeback – Wal-Mart hit the mark this holiday season by bringing back layaway, and they are leading the charge among other retailers bringing back the once popular holiday staple. Using layaway is a great way to force you to space out the payments for your gifts this holiday season. Instead of going further into debt this Christmas, using layaway can help you purchase your gifts this year with payments that you can afford.
7. Set Spending Limits This Year – The hardest word to say in the English language is no. No! But, it is a critical one in my family when it comes to staying out of debt this Christmas. My wife and I set a spending limit for the holidays and all of the gifts we give. While budgeting is not a fun topic for anyone, it is incredibly important. You have to have a spending plan and set a limit to keep yourself and your family out of debt this Christmas.
Did you already miss the boat this year? Now is the time to start thinking about next year. Do you spend the average $500 during the holidays on gifts? If you saved $40 per month or $20 per paycheck, you could have a debt free Christmas next year. It is time to bring back the Christmas Club Savings Accounts, or you can just create your own.