How to have a debt free Christmas and Holiday Season

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Christmas is only two months away. Did you just panic a little? Or are you yelling at me because it's not even Halloween. 

Well, today I'm going to share with you a few tips on how to save money for Christmas.

Personally, I like to have all of my shopping done before Thanksgiving. This way I have a less stressful Thanksgiving, and then I can enjoy December as it comes. I can take my kids places and really enjoy the spirit of the season without being stressed out about shopping.

So here are some steps we can take to have a stress-free and debt-free season

Make a list, check it twice

The first thing I want you to do is make a list of every conceivable person that you will be giving a gift to.

And then eliminate people from that list. I know that sounds terrible but let's be realistic. You have a limited amount of time and a limited amount of money. You cannot buy gifts for everyone. You just can't. And you can't let yourself feel guilty about that.

There are, as my friend Rachel from Sweet and Simple Home calls them, peripheral people or fringe people. They are important to your life but you don't necessarily need to buy them something.

Those are the dance teacher, the art teacher, dog walker etc. Yes—they play a huge role in your life and you want to thank them, but let's be realistic if you bought them all a gift you would have NO money. So maybe, you bake them mini muffins or maybe you write a really heartfelt letter telling them how wonderful they are and what they have meant to your family.

My mom retired after 30 some odd years of teaching and I can tell you the things that she held on to were those heartfelt letters from students and parents or handmade ornaments made by littler five-year-old hands—not all of the coffee mugs filled with candy.

Create a sinking fund

So a sinking fund is this: the amount of money you need to save divided by the amount of time you have to save it equals how much money you're going to put in every week or every month.

So we have two months until Christmas, but let's say you have one month and you need $500 for your Christmas budget. That means that you would put $125 each week aside for Christmas gifts and expenses. 

Maybe $500 or $125 a week is too much for you. Come up with a lower amount of money. Think about how much you have to spend and how much you are reasonably going to spend and set that money aside each week.

Come up with some heartfelt ideas

Pull out the list I had you make and really think about these people, think about what they love and what they need. Create a gift list idea based on this. 

If you need to, assign a monetary monetary amount to each person- I realize how terrible this sounds. I really do. 

But remember,  this does not mean that you love someone more based on how much money you're going to spend on them, but this is just how you keep things in check and you don't go crazy.

Also realize that things might not be "fair." Don't get caught up in the idea  that you have to spend the same exact dollar amount on each person or each child. Because that's just when things spin out of control.

Be honest with yourself and others 

If you are on a tight budget, now might be the time to start tempering your expectations.

Do not make Christmas a time of financial stress. It is a season of hope; it is a season of joy. Once we look away from that and we make it a time of stress, I think we've defeated the purpose.

What about you? What do you do to have a debt free Christmas?