Own the Holidays Without Taking on Debt

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Hey Taylor - How does anyone survive Christmas without taking on debt? I’m trying to find bargain gifts and cheap travel and still see money just flying out the window. - Nick

Hey Nick - If you don’t save up for holiday spending all year long, it’s almost impossible to keep your head above water. However, you can always strive to save more and make your money go further, so here are three things to think about this time of year.

1. Fewer Peppermint Mochas. If you’re traveling and buying presents and pitching in for an office holiday party, those are spending categories you’ll struggle to avoid. Meanwhile, you’re quietly spending gobs of money every time you head to the coffee shop to get some sort of festive drink or schedule a lunch meeting with a friend, so you can do your gift exchange. You’re also spending more time in malls and in transit, which makes it very convenient and easy to just buy food on the run. If you do that enough between December 15th and 31st, you’re going to do a whole lot more damage to your financial situation (and diet) than if you’d eaten at home while shopping for gifts online.

2. White Elephant / Yankee Swap. Imagine meeting up with a group of 10 friends, getting together for some food and merriment, and everyone brings one gift and leaves with one gift. Doesn’t that sound better than trying to think of nine unique presents to buy? Time is at a premium during the holidays and you can’t afford to meet up with everyone individually, so creating an event that lets you shop less and allows for some communal gift-giving will help you reach January 1st with fewer battle scars.

3. Reduce non-holiday spending. In my mind, this is the real trick. If Christmas comes with a big price tag, you need to curb spending in other areas. Use the holiday season as an opportunity to get a loan refinanced or have your insurance premiums reduced; cut your cable bill or switch cellular plans to pay for less data. We’ve got a post up at GoFarWithKovar.com about realistic ways to save $1,000, and you can try any of these tactics out during the holiday crunch to free up a little cash. If you take a big-picture view of your finances, you can save money at Christmas time without killing yourself in search of holiday-specific bargains.

You have a few ways you can save money this year. Don’t forget that the best option will be to start planning ahead so you have enough cash in your account to get you through Christmas 2020. Best of luck and Merry Christmas!