The late Thanksgiving Day recently joined Black Friday and Cyber Monday as part of the holiday shopping spree. At dawn in November, Christmas advertising is already popping up online, on television, and in print.
Before you get caught up in the commercialism of the season, take some time to remember the true meaning of the holiday. They represent a moment of rest, reflection and joy.
Personal finance author Mary Hunt offers an excellent balance between meaning and merchandise in her book, “Debt-Proof Your Christmas,” developed from her own history of incurring Christmas shopping debt more than 20 years ago.
Hunt acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to celebrating the holidays, as he shows readers how to have a cash Christmas and avoid the bills that will soon follow in January. Giving gifts, entertaining during the holidays and dressing up the house are some of the many topics it covers.
It is imperative that you prepare and plan for vacations to avoid accumulating seasonal debt. The best separator to avoid becoming emotionally overdone on vacation is time. “While you are not emotionally involved, this is the time when you can think more rationally.”
Hunt’s notable Christmas celebration thoughts include:
Attitude. “How you celebrate and pay for the Christmas holidays is completely under your control if you make that decision,” says Hunt.
Courage. You can be single, be a childless couple or have financial problems, and be part of a large family, and you are expected to buy gifts for all relatives. The solution is to develop the courage to give what you want, not out of guilt or expectation. Spend what you can on what you want, not what others say you should. Be creative when giving gifts.
Cash in envelopes. Set an amount that you will spend on each gift recipient, and put that cash in an envelope. When the money runs out, it runs out, just like buying gifts for that person.
Use cash and you will be a more disciplined buyer, forced to find the best deals.
Gift cards. The increase in gift card donations in recent years leads Hunt to emphasize that they are not the same as cash, but specific store credit subject to that store’s rules and policies. Tips for giving Hunt gift cards include:
- Present a gift card at the top of the recipient’s wish list, not for your own convenience.
- Please note that many gift cards begin to lose value as early as six months after activation.
- Avoid giving gift cards to children, because they are too abstract. Instead, give cash.
Outlet stores. Points of sale have become their own kind of shopping experience, requiring smart shopping. Hunt’s outlet shopping tips include:
- Wait for the great sales. The points of sale follow the same hours as the usual stores, with the best offers during the main festivities.
- Ask sales associates if merchandise is premium, branded, or lower-grade merchandise made specifically for the store.
- Find out about the off-season merchandise at the back of the store available at rock-bottom prices.
Family traditions. Traditions give families the assurance that even in uncertain times, in the midst of a changing world, there are some things they can count on to stay the same.
A suggested tradition is to collect twenty-four books that align with your family’s values and beliefs for the holidays. Wrap up the books, and starting December 1, let your kids select and open a book before bed and then read it together.
Hunt surveyed readers for their favorite Christmas books (Christmas and Hanukkah) and lists the twenty-four most popular titles.
Readers of Hunt’s website share their inspiring stories about how they personalized their holiday celebrations.
One family created a memory box, encouraging members to contribute thoughts about the past year and hopes for the future during the holidays. Each Christmas Eve family member opens the box and reflects on their previous entries.
Debt-Proof Your Christmas features a treasure chest of websites that enhance the holidays, including an organization that distributes gifts to children in desperate situations around the world, and a simple site that allows you to bid on unclaimed items in rooms of property stolen from the police. seasons.
Hunt advises on vacation tips and charitable contributions. “The most reputable charities spend no more on administrative costs than twenty-five cents of every dollar donated.”
If you’re inspired by the claims, Hunt offers nine to help you avoid Christmas debt, including: “I’ll be on the lookout for December 26, when I think about waking up knowing Christmas is paid for in full.”
Debt-proof Your Christmas will reign as your reference year-round for a meaningful and debt-free holiday season. Discover Hunt’s tips now to boost your ability to experience a cash Christmas this year.
To organize your Christmas and simplify your holidays, visit Organized Christmas.