Often times I am asked how we (my husband and I) managed Christmas when we were heavily in debt. People want to know what is reasonable to spend and should they spend anything while climbing their way out of debt. People also don’t want to experience guilt if they do choose to celebrate the holidays by spending some money. I will tell you the truth. I did have Merry Christmases along the way. We were never extravagant, but we also didn’t say “no” altogether. I believe in balance. Yes, I know that Dave Ramsey says “beans and rice, rice and beans,” but I am of the mind that too many beans can give you gas… J Who wants an upset stomach after the holidays that includes regret or sadness unnecessarily. If you can pay cash to buy gifts for those you love, then I love it! If you can’t pay cash, then I have a problem. Don’t go into credit card debt for the holidays because that does produce a pain in the neck in January!
For the last 10 years Americans have spent and average of $800 for Christmas according to www.gallup.com. I can honestly say that my family has spent less than that every year even after we got out of debt. Use this as a gauge but don’t let outside circumstances affect how you choose to celebrate. Here are some fun suggestions that make Christmas, Chanuka, Kwanza, and the New Year fun but don’t break the bank.
- Bake your gifts – I love to receive homemade desserts and I’m sure others will too!
- Send pictures of your family – That is often what people want any way is to see you!
- Give a donation – So many people have less than you right now. So give a coat, food, or money to an organization that helps others in need. This reminds us of our blessings.
- Give your time – Who said a gift had to come in the form of spending? Volunteerism is a lost art!
- White elephant gift exchange - Everyone buys a fun, inexpensive gift and you make a game out of exchanging them.
Now is the time to get creative with your plan for freedom. Remember why you are celebrating. Remember whose birthday it is. Dream about all the possibilities the New Year brings. Don’t make Alka Seltzer a part of your Christmas dinner. Merry Christmas!