December is supposed to be a joyous month because this is the month of Christmas. Often times, though, December is a month that many people dread due to the extra expense that Christmas brings on. Holiday food and gifts can destroy an otherwise okay household budget, so what can you do? Don’t worry. Here are some ways to help you make it through December without going into debt:
Pay your bills first. It’s really easy to put off such bills as utilities and car payments to help make your Christmas a special one. The bad news, though, is that you still have to pay these bills, so this means that you’ll find yourself in a money jam once the month of January rolls around.
Sure, income tax refunds do begin to occur toward the last of January, but this isn’t always enough. You cannot rely on money that you don’t have in your hand to help you pay for the things that you must have to live. It may hurt your wallet, but go ahead and pay for your necessities first.
Leave your debit card at home. You can find sales galore anywhere you look in the month of December. Remember, it’s the store’s job to move the money from your wallet to their wallet, and what better way to do it than a sale? With only one swipe of your debit card, you can be many dollars short.
How can you combat this? Resist the urge to pick up the extra things that you find on sale by not having enough money in your hand to pay for them, even if you do want them. Make a list of what you intend to buy and take only enough money to buy those items. Avoid using your credit cards at all costs.
Stick to a list. It’s super hard to make a gift list or a grocery list and stick to it. Particularly, a grocery list is hard to stick to because you often forget to put everything on your grocery list. Get around this idea by compiling your grocery list throughout the week. When you find something you need for your household, write it down on your list.
Once you feel that you’ve finished your grocery list, sit down and weed out all the items that you can do without. For instance, do you really need paper towels when you probably have leftover napkins from eating out? Likely not. Eliminating paper towels from your grocery list can save you some bucks to put toward a gift. Buy absolutely nothing that’s not on your list.
Don’t feel the need to reciprocate. Be thankful that you have people in your life that care enough about you to give you a gift. However, don’t feel the need to reciprocate because you’ll end up short on dollars and stressed out about the shortage. This takes away from the initial warm feeling that you get when you receive an unexpected gift. Thanking the person is enough.
Make some gifts. Do you really have to buy every single gift that you give someone? The answer to this question is no. If you have older kids, save some money and give them something more valuable that a store-bought item by passing down a family heirloom. Too, you can skip the packaged candy and wrap up some of the Christmas fudge to fill your kids’ stockings.
*The key to making it through December without going into debt is to pay your bills first, avoid the temptation of sales, and receive without needing to reciprocate.