6 Ways to Keep Holiday Spending From Blowing Debt Repayment

The holidays can be stressful, and not just from family or too much junk food. Money is a huge factor, too. In fact, last year, people added an average of $986 to their debt over the holidays.

Rather than increasing your debt this holiday season, you can instead balance your spending with your repayment plan. It takes a little work, some creativity, and some juggling, but it's completely within the realm of possibility.

1. Prioritize Minimum Payments

Before you plan any holiday spending, make sure you can at least make the minimum payments on any debt repayment you currently have going.

Sure, you want to pay more than the minimum required amount on your debt, even during the holiday season. But you have to balance your priorities. If you value spending on gifts or other holiday items more than paying down debt right now, it's probably okay to take a single month and spend differently than usual. Just make sure that you are ready to get back to your normal payment plan in the next billing cycle.

2. Don't Add More Debt

After you've set aside money for at least the minimum required payments on your debt, make a firm commitment to do whatever you need to do to keep from adding to it over the holidays. That might mean making gifts yourself or buying less than you have in the past.

3. Write it Down

Decide how much you're going to spend for the holidays and how much you want to put towards debt repayment. Then write it down. If you are deciding with a partner, make sure each of you writes it down. Something about the act of putting a goal on paper makes it more real, so it feels like truth and not just possibility. Keep these numbers somewhere where you can look at them before you make any purchases or payments.

4. Plan Ahead

Plan out how much you want to spend on each gift. Price out items online first to ballpark amounts. This will help you figure out what is realistic, and you may find that you can't get everything you'd planned on. Having a plan will also help you feel like your goals are achievable, and not just wishful thinking.

5. Creative Gift Giving

If you choose to prioritize debt repayment, or you simply don't have enough money to cover your minimum payments and holiday gifts, get creative. Offer to spend some one-on-one time with someone close to you. Invite them over. Make hot beverages at home, and have a nice, deep conversation.

You can also offer to help people. Give someone a housecleaning, do some yard work, offer an evening of babysitting, and more. They will be appreciative, and you will get to give a gift that won't cost very much at all. In fact, sometimes these sorts of gifts are more thoughtful than anything you can buy.

6. Make Gifts Meaningful, Not Massive

Even if you do choose to purchase gifts, go for something meaningful over something expensive. Despite what the commercials want us to believe, a new mobile phone isn't usually a special gift. Instead, choose a smaller gift that will bring to mind a special memory that you share with someone, or that shows how well you know them.

How do you plan to balance holiday spending with debt repayment? And how will you choose gifting creatively this holiday season?

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