How to Avoid Holiday Debt

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated December 11, 2020

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Money Saving Tips
December 11, 2017

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

After the dazzling light displays, the delicious holiday food, the warm camaraderie with friends and family, and the gift giving and receiving, there often comes another factor in the holiday equation: it’s holiday debt, and it’s definitely not as welcome in your home as the jolly guy in the red suit is.

However, there are plenty of ways to avoid holiday debt each and every year. Follow these tips and you’ll be able to remain strong, patient and vigilant in the face of so many shopping deals being thrown at you on a daily basis.

Santa isn’t the only one who needs to create a list each holiday season. Make a list of everyone you plan on getting gifts for this year, and add important details such as the maximum amount you plan to spend on each of those people. Remember to include people that might not immediately spring to mind, such as coworkers, your children’s teachers or a neighbor.

When your list is complete, you’ll have an idea of how much gifts will cost you this year. Then, you can adjust accordingly so that you have a more realistic budget.

If you already know some of the things you’d like to get for the people on your list, start researching prices. Many places will announce upcoming sales early, so you’ll have a bit more time to plan. Compare prices at brick-and-mortar stores as well as online, and look to take advantage of free shipping deals that are often offered during the holidays as well. With a bit of research, you can probably save a great deal of money.

When you use credit cards, you can easily lose track of how much you’re spending. With cash, you are more aware of how much you have left to spend, and will be more careful when shopping, helping you to avoid impulse buys.

Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean you need to get it. Understandably, it’s hard to avoid what appears to be a really good deal, but if it isn’t on your list, ask yourself if you really need it, or if you’re just caught up in holiday shopping fever.

Holiday expenses can quickly add up. Items such as lights and Christmas trees, getting food for holiday parties and gatherings, and tickets to Christmas shows with the kids can put a big dent in your wallet. Prepare a budget early and stick to it.

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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