Close your eyes and dream of the future with me. O wait, you have to keep reading this, so keep your eyes open and dream with me….
It’s the day after Christmas.
Everyone is gathered together, enjoying their gifts and finishing off delicious leftovers from Christmas day. You’ve taken photos to remember the happy times with family and friends. You’ve gotten compliments on the adorable Christmas cards you sent out.
AND… You’re not at all concerned about money because this Christmas, you paid with cash! That’s right, there’s not a painful credit card bill on it’s way to you like there is to many, many people. Feels good, doesn’t it?
Well, let’s make that happy thought a reality this year! Step by step, we’re going to make it happen.
Enter your info below and I’ll send you my free Debt-Free Christmas Planning Guide! It includes instructions and four worksheets to help you pay cash for a stress-free Christmas this year (Well, you won’t stress about money at least. I can’t promise you won’t stress about other things 🙂 )
Debt Free Christmas Planning Guide
1a. List Everyone You’ll Buy a Gift For
First, we need to figure out every person you’ll be buying a gift (or gift card) for. And I mean every person:
- Your Spouse
- Nieces & Nephews
Don’t forget to add in if you’ll be paying for your children to get your spouse a gift. Austin and I have all of our finances combined, so I have to add myself to the list to remember that I need to budget money for him to get me a gift.
Plus, did you remember:
- Teachers: at school, piano or dance lessons, Sunday school teachers…
- Mail person
- Your child’s friends
I’m not saying that you should give gifts to all of these people. We certainly don’t. Just make sure that if you would like to give a gift to someone, that their name gets on the list so that you can plan for it.
1b. Set an Amount for Each Person
Now it get’s a bit tougher. Next to each person you listed, write down an estimate of what you will spend on their gift. This is essentially setting your budget for each person.
Even spending $5 per coworker can really add up quickly, which is why you don’t want to leave anyone out.
2. List Extras…
The Christmas budget isn’t just about giving gifts. We have all kinds of special Christmas traditions that also cost money. We’ve forgotten about these some years and then our Christmas budget gets all messed up.
List any extra activities or traditions that happen around the holidays and estimate what you’ll spend on those too.
- Ordering Christmas cards
- Postage to send Christmas cards (this one gets me every time)
- Christmas pajamas, or a family movie or game
- Christmas Eve dinner
- Your annual holiday party
- Gifts for stockings: a lot of people treat this as a separate thing from normal gifts
3a. Total It Up
Alright, the big moment. Add up the total of what you have estimated you need for gifts and holiday extras.
All of it!
3b. Divide Total by How Many Paydays Until Christmas
Now you know the total amount that you need to save to make your fabulous debt-free Christmas happen.
Look at the calendar and figure out how many paydays you will have between now and Christmas. Divide your total by that number.
Example: My total Christmas budget amount is $300. I have 7 paydays until Christmas.
300 / 7 = 43
This means that I need to save $43 out of every paycheck between now and Christmas in order to be able to pay cash for everything.
3c. Adjust if Necessary
It’s time to think realistically now. If we keep working with the example above, I need to think about if I can actually save $43 out of every payday. That might not be possible.
If you can’t save up the cash you need to have a debt-free Christmas, go back and look at making some adjustments to your budget.
First, think about what’s most important to you this Christmas season. Remember to place more value on quality time and thoughtful gifts instead of spending more. An inexpensive gift along with a heartfelt note can often be much more valuable to the receiver than something expensive.
Then, make adjustments for who you were planning to buy for, what you were planning to spend, and some of your extras until the amount you need to save each payday between now and Christmas is realistic and possible for you to accomplish.
4a. Start Writing Down Gift Ideas or Doing DIY Projects
It’s getting fun now! Start thinking of gift ideas or working on projects!
To be completely honest, I am a terrible gift giver. If I have to pick something out at the last minute for someone, it’s no good at all. I have a note on my iPad where I write down any gift ideas I think of all year round so that I can avoid coming up with something last minute.
Write down any gift ideas you get that are within the amount you’re planning to spend on someone. Start looking for deals on getting your Christmas cards printed. Plus, get working on any DIY gifts!
If you’re looking for gift ideas, you’re in the right place! I’ve got a whole bunch of resources for you:
- Gifts for $15 and under that people will love
- 7 Fabulous family gifts (family gifts are a great idea that can often save you money)
- Unique gifts for the bookworm in your life
- Perfect geeky gift ideas
- DIY soy candles tutorial (these are easy to make and everyone loves receiving them)
4b. Start Saving
On every payday, make sure to save out the amount that you need for your debt free Christmas. If you’re using the planning guide worksheets I made, color in your thermometer as you reach your savings milestones!
You can take out the cash and keep it in a safe place and take it with you when you go shopping. Or create a separate bank account to keep that money from being used for other things. Do whatever works best for you.
You can also look for other ways to earn more money. Take a few overtime shifts. Sell things around the house you don’t need anymore. Take a look at these 9 ideas on how to make money fast.
4c. Stick to the Budget!!!
Do you see all of those exclamation points up there? Haha, this is the most important part. Make sure to track what you’re spending so that you don’t go over your budget.
This gets really hard around Christmas because you’ll be out shopping and see the perfect gift for someone that is way over your budget.
Christmas can be an emotional time and thinking about seeing someone’s face light up when you give them such a fabulous gift can cause you to spend far more than you were planning to. When that happens, think of these three things:
- Quality time and good memories are far more lasting than any gift you can give.
- If you go over your budget in one area, that’s fine but it means that you need to adjust elsewhere by spending less on someone else or cutting out some extras.
- Material possessions are not worth going into debt for. Think back to that dream of enjoying the holiday season and knowing that you paid for everything in cash and that there is not a painful credit card bill on its way to you.
If you want worksheets that go along with all of the steps we discussed in this post, fill out your info below and I’ll send you my free debt free Christmas planner! ⇓
A debt-free Christmas is a wonderful gift to give to yourself and your family, even if you have to scale back a little this year to make it happen.
Less stress about money will make your holiday even more enjoyable and get you off to a great financial start in the new year!