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Pew Law Center Blog
September 23, 2014 Lawrence 'D' Pew

Avoid Holiday Debt: The Christmas Countdown Is Real

The temperatures are beginning to cool off and everything pumpkin-spice is in the air as the Fall Season rolls into full swing next week. So why are people talking about Christmas already when it isn’t even Halloween yet? Because there are less than 100 days until the Christmas holiday!

That’s right. There are only 92 days until Christmas, which is 13 weeks away! Sounds much closer when you put it into that perspective. While you may not be ready to start striking gifts off your wish list just yet, you should know that now is the perfect time to develop a plan to stay within your budget this year.

Make A List

It is nice to be able to give even the smallest of gifts to those you love and know, but sometimes it really isn’t necessary. Instead of putting family, friends, and coworkers on the list of those to buy for, consider prioritizing some for the bigger purchases and leaving others for a more budget friendly list. For example, if you feel the need to buy for co-workers don’t spring for hefty Starbucks gift cards or fruit baskets, but bring a nice desert treat the entire office can share. Chances are they will appreciate the gesture just as much and save you hundreds.

Check The Price

Once you see Christmas decorations hit store shelves you can rest assured that those same retailers are already offering sales and coupon-competing prices. Instead of getting all of your gifts from one store, do your homework and research prices before going on your shopping spree. Many online retailers also offer to beat the big box store prices and even offer free shipping. You can find great deals at outlet stores and name-brand knockoff stores that can save you money and make that special person smile with their gift on Christmas morning.

Pay In Cash

A big mistake people often make come Christmas time is using credit cards to pay for gifts. Unless you plan to pay off those purchases by January or February of next year, you are likely making a money management mistake. Why pay so much more for a gift in the long run with credit card interest fees added in when you could pay cash? If you can’t afford to pay cash, start saving as much as you can now to reduce the amount you need to charge come Christmas time. Skip the coffee and donut at the drive through each  morning and make breakfast at home, while putting that money into your holiday gift savings fund.

 

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