Gift Yourself With A Debt-Free Christmas

Credit [and Christmas] buying is much like being drunk. The buzz happens immediately and gives you a lift….
The hangover comes the day after. ~ Joyce Brothers

Here we are – in the midst of the most shopping-intense season of the year. It’s easy to forget all your careful plans as you focus on the holidays instead of your goal to be/stay debt-free (more than a good idea in the current economy and an admonition from God). Don’t let last-minute second-guessing and compulsive shopping sabotage your good sense.

Sharing gifts with others is a timeless expression of love and appreciation. While you’re mall-browsing or e-shopping, remember these tips to help you maintain your financial health.

1. Establish shopping goals. Determine how much you want to spend for each person … and stick to it. Overspending is like over-eating. It adds up quickly – and takes forever to get rid of. A holiday budget will help you avoid excessive spending.

2. Use cash or debit cards, not credit. Interest charges increase the total cost of each gift.

3. Budget for shipping and delivery costs. Not only do you pay shipping to you, but gifts that must be sent will cost again. It adds up quickly. Ship direct if you can.

4. Think differently. By all means, gift each child on your list. But stay on budget: give certificates for stay-up nights, story times, ‘date nights’, cooking lessons or weekend activities spaced throughout the year. To make it more fun,
create a ‘treasure hunt’ with a series of clues for the child/children to follow. (We do this every year for one special gift.)

5. For adults, whether family, friends or business associates, consider other options. Most of us don’t need more knick-knacks. Agree together to draw names so each one only buys for one. Other options include donating to charity in lieu
of gifts, or creating non-dollar gift certificates for each other.

6. Gift yourself by paying off at least one credit card. Enjoy less stress all year! You’ll also have more disposable income from the interest saved (which you can use to pay off the next card).

In a few short weeks, the New Year will arrive. Keep 2012 stress-free – and debt-free by setting and sticking to
good financial goals for your holiday expenses.

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