The holiday season is the time to relax and have fun. And it's almost Christmas, the holiest and jolliest time of the year.
But amidst all the excitement and celebrations, an evil often goes unnoticed. It lingers in the house of most Americans, waiting for its chance to pounce the moment the holiday lights turn dim.
Yes, I'm talking about debt.
Debt, one of the greatest of all evils, soars to great form during the holidays - 40% of Americans still haven't been able to pay off their 2021 holiday debts.
If you’re also struggling with past debts, you can try debt relief options like debt consolidation, debt management, debt settlement, and more.
But what can you do? Christmas is, after all, a costly time of year, with expenses ranging from gifts, decorations, and travel to food, entertainment, and social events.
In a survey, 27% of holiday shoppers said their holiday shopping would strain their budgets, and 17% feel pressured to spend more than they're comfortable with.
The answer is - you can do a lot.
Here's how you can say no to holiday debt and spend your Christmas with $500 -
“The key to spending Christmas with a budget of $500 is staying within your means and only buying what you need,” said Johannes Larsson, Founder, and CEO of Johannes Larsson.
Your budget will work as an anchor to keep you grounded and stop you from overspending on your Christmas shopping.
Setting a holiday budget and following it ensures you prioritize your spending and focus on what is most important.
Make a list of all your necessary expenses, like gifts for loved ones, special activities, or other holiday traditions. Now, allocate the spending limits for each item on your list. While allocating, keep the $500 goal in mind.
Making a list will help you optimize your spending and enjoy the holiday season without splurging and breaking the bank.
Budgeting may sound stressful, but it doesn't have to be. There are apps like Mint, Wally, and more that can make the process easier than you think. You can also use Google spreadsheet to keep tabs on your spending.
Holidays come with a lot of discounts and sales. So keep your eyes open for these saving opportunities and use coupons - you can often find these when shopping online, in the newspapers or magazines, or through loyalty programs.
However, don't jump on the first eye-catching holiday sales deal that you come across. Take a little breather and start comparing prices. To make the process easier, you can use price comparison websites like PriceGrabber or apps like BuyVia to help you find the lowest prices on the items you need.
Another essential aspect to remember is to use cash or debit cards to make purchases. This can help you keep your holiday spending in check. However, if you have to use a credit card, be smart about it.
If you can get creative enough, you can give your family and friends gifts they'll appreciate, even with little to no expense.
That's what a friend - a gifted artist - of Trevor Ford, Head of Growth, Yotta did. According to him, she made macrame for several of her friends, and all she needed for that was the yarn and a few other supplies to craft them.
Don't worry; you don't have to be an artist to give a creative gift (if you are, that's a plus).
Off the top of my mind, here are some things that can make for thoughtful Christmas gifts -
Whatever your talent, use it to create a personalized gift for your loved ones.
For example, if you have a knack for bakery, you can make your loved ones cookies and give that as a gift along with a heartfelt card. You'll be amazed how much they'll appreciate it.
Instead of physical gifts, you can give your loved ones the gift of an experience in the form of tickets to a local sporting event or show, a gift certificate for a restaurant or spa, or a voucher for a fun evening of bowling or skating.
These can be unique, one-of-a-kind Christmas gifts if you have any vintage items.
For example, old classic books, vintage home decor, collectibles such as stamps, coins, and figurines, or vintage technological items like cameras and record players can make great gifts.
More and more people are using digital devices, so why not go for digital gifts, such as ebooks, music, or games? Just find out what they like and give them that.
No matter how creative and frugal you get, if you have five people to give gifts to, you have a high chance of going over budget on your Christmas shopping.
So, why not turn the gift-giving ceremony into a fun, exciting affair? Why not introduce the concept of secret Santa?
If you don't already know, secret Santa is a holiday tradition in which a group of people draw names and only arrange gifts for the person whose name they drew. The kind of gift depends on a predetermined budget and theme, and the gift giver's identity remains a mystery until the gift is opened.
The tradition is a great way to ensure you stay within your $500 Christmas spending goals while encouraging a little secrecy, fun, and excitement into the mix.
With a $500 budget, throwing a lavish dinner party will drown all your effort into shopping on a budget. So, no dinner party?
Of course, there'll be dinner, but you can make it more fun and intimate instead of lavish.
Here are some low-cost/free activities for you and your family members or friends to try -
Like Secret Santa, a potluck dinner can be a great way to make dinner parties cost-effective, intimate, and exciting.
You can also take it up a notch by setting a theme, say Italian, and turn it into a healthy cooking competition by having people vote on their favorite dishes.
If you have a classic board game or a pack of cards on the high shelf, it's time to bring it back on the table. These games can be a lot of fun and be enjoyed by people of all ages. You can also play charades, trivia, or Pictionary.
Ready some popcorn, snuggle up on the couch, put on a movie, or start binging a show.
Plan for a drive and go stargazing in national parks, state parks, or other areas with low light pollution. You can bundle up and talk while looking at the beauty of a star-filled night sky.
Christmas is never about big parties, costly holiday shopping, decorations, or grand gestures. Although all of it can be exciting, only when you have the means for it.
Getting into debt for a few days of extravaganza isn't exactly a smart move if you don't.
Instead, bring a personal touch to your Christmas and extend small, thoughtful gestures for family and friends. This is what makes the day special.
Instead of going for giant Christmas decorations, you can use natural materials like pine cones, branches, and dry berries, giving your home a unique rustic touch. You can often find these materials for free or minuscule cost.
And, if you think hard about it, you can find many more creative options to show appreciation and gratitude to your loved ones in ways that don't cost a fortune.
In short, don't forget about the little things. After all, the most important thing in the holiday season is spending time with loved ones and creating meaningful memories.