Paying off debt is hard enough on a normal day. Forcing yourself to continue living frugally during the holidays can be downright depressing. But don’t despair quite yet, my dears. There are plenty of ways to have a joyful, fun-filled holiday season while sticking to your debt-repaying guns.
If you are determined to maintain your normal holiday traditions, consider opening a savings account specifically for holiday expenses. Add a small amount every paycheck throughout the year and before you know it, you will have a nice bit of cash to spend on gifts, food, and activities. Not sure which bank to choose for your holiday account? I highly recommend Capital One 360.
While it may be a bit too late to start saving now for the holidays (Christmas is less than a month away, people!), you have plenty of time to take on a few side hustles. Consider offering pet or child-sitting, fall lawn cleanup, or driving for Uber or Lyft. You could also take on some freelance work if you are a writer or artist. Alternatively, sell off some of your unwanted items that are just laying around the house. I personally have had great luck doing this on local swap and shop Facebook pages. But my personal favorite side hustle is renting my extra room on Airbnb.
Additionally, you can offer your services in lieu of a gift. Not only can you earn cash doing pet sitting during the holidays, you can give your loved ones a voucher to offer them the same- a double whammy. As we get older, some people are weird about asking for help with a move, repainting a room or helping with a big house project- if you’re handy or crafty it can be a way to earn AND save money.
Gifts aren’t the only holiday expense to consider. Food, especially when cooking for a large group, adds up so stinkin’ fast. If you are in charge of hosting a holiday get-together, consider making it a potluck. Trust me, people won’t mind at all; folks realize that hosting in itself is a a huge undertaking. I do recommend assigning each person a specific course, though, so you don’t end up with 10 pies and no entree. (Mmmm, pie.)
Helpful Hint: If you have yet to jump on the Instant Pot bandwagon, I highly recommend it for both saving money AND time. Seriously, it’s magic, and perfect for potlucks.
As you know, I love myself some crafts, so I’m a big proponent for making your own gifts. And don’t worry, you don’t have to possess a lot of skills to do this. You can make something as simple as an infinity scarf for the women in your life or some natural branch coasters for the guys. Alternatively, a handmade coupon gifting your loved one a homemade meal, babysitting hours, or a ride to the airport would absolutely be appreciated by all. Of course, you could always cater to their sweet tooth and make them some of their favorite treats. Gifts don’t have to be store-bought to be special.
If you are lacking some inspiration, our Crafting & DIY section is chock-full of tutorials, ideas, and links to awesome projects and homemade gifts. (A couple of my personal favorites are Top Ten Hostess Gifts and 20 DIY Cocktail Mason Jar Gift Ideas.) Alternatively, head on over to our Pinterest for even more mind-blowing crafts.
Something my family does every Christmas is we pick names. Everyone’s name goes in the hat and we each pick one. We are then responsible for giving a gift to that one person. Not only does this save big money, but it also reduces the stress of trying to find a perfect gift for every Tom, Dick, and Harry.
Helpful Hint: I actually found an awesome website that helps take the hassle out of picking a name (and also eliminates the possibility of someone getting themselves). It is called Secret Santa Generator and it is fan-tab-u-lous.
Finally though – remember, debt is not forever. If I had any real piece of advice that has helped me through lean times, it is to look ahead. Right now, you’re juggling debt repayment with holiday spending and it can be a tough balancing act – but luckily, it’s not forever.
If you’re feeling really heavy that you’ve ruined Christmas, don’t despair, your work to pay down your debts will pay off in a few months or a year. Imagine how much freer you will feel next Christmas when the burden of debt has lessened or is gone completely. Trust me, one year without sending photo cards to your entire network won’t be the end of holiday cheer as we know it – there’s always next year.
See, folks? All is not lost! Remember, the holidays are first and foremost about spending time with those you love. But if you are bound and determined to go big this holiday season, be sure to use these tips to balance debt repayment with your gift-giving so you don’t lose your momentum.