I’m not a fan of debt, but if you lost your job, I totally get it. Or, if something happens with your automobile . . . understandable. But, accumulating debt because of the holidays? Nope; can’t get with it at all. . . . For one, the holidays are not a surprise. We know that Thanksgiving and Christmas are bound to roll around again when we set out on January 1st. So it couldn’t be that important if we didn’t take all year to plan for it. . . Could it? The thought of sacrificing payments on normal obligations or racking up late fees and other penalties just to “impress” someone or “not disappoint” others is no way to start the New Year. Call me crazy, but I say focus all your efforts on impressing your creditors and bank tellers; not impressing kids or co-workers who won’t be interested in your debt riddled gift past January 31st.
Here are 3 ways to avoid racking up new debt this season:
1. Stop acting too good for lay-away.
Yea, I said it! Listen, if companies like K-Mart, Wal-Mart and Sears have brought layaway back, it’s obvious there has been a great demand for it. The stigma that lay-away is just for “poor” people is nonsense. Lay-away is for smart people who want to get what they want, but understand the benefits of delayed gratification and purchasing what they need and want for cash. Is a TV purchased on lay-away any less desirable to watch then the TV purchased on credit or purchased when you knew you had bills due and no more money coming in for over a week or two? . . . I’ll wait.
Sure, lay-away might have a nominal fee, but I guarantee you it’s not nearly what you’d pay in exorbitant credit card fees. And, the best part is you can enjoy your purchase with a clear conscience; Once your transaction is done, you’re done. You don't have to deal with anymore pesky bills coming in the mail after the fact.
If you still feel some kind of way about entering a store and standing in the “Lay-away Line,” try online layaway through the Internet. Sites like elayaway.com allow consumers to purchase items through scheduled deductions from a checking account. Products and services that have layaway offerings online vary from home gyms to home theatres and from concert tickets to layaway vacations.
2. Look for gifts that are sentimental – not expensive.
I recently shared in Upscale Magazine that the best part of the holidays is getting to enjoy the company of family and friends seldom seen. It can be tempting to try and “outdo” each other by completely going overboard with gifts. But try something new this year. Make something from the heart. Use your talents and skills to make one-of-a-kind creations for the people on your list. If you're an artist, paint a personal masterpiece. If you're a singer, make a CD for loved ones. If you're an accountant, give someone a gift certificate to help them set up QuickBooks. Think outside the box and find the gift that lies within you.
If you don’t feel particularly good at anything, there’s still no reason to overspend. It’s as simple as digging up old photos and designing a beautifully framed collage. Taking the time to personalize a present can turn an everyday item into a cherished treat.
Related Post: 7 Ways to Spend Less and Erase Holiday Stress
3. Don’t be afraid to re-gift.
When done properly, re-gifting can be a great tool to make others happy, while keeping you out of debt. You have to remember, however that you can’t just give a gift simply for the sake of giving a gift. Be sure that the item is something the recipient will genuinely appreciate. Remember, if you feel that an item is ugly, tacky or just plain undesirable, the recipient probably will too. And I might add here that some people believe that telling someone that you've basically re-gifted is the good wholesome thing to do. I don’t. Why would you need to say, "I received two of these and didn’t need one?" or "My aunt gave me this vase and it didn't look good in my house . . . " That's something you'd say if you were giving it to someone on any given day, but as their main Christmas gift? Probably not.
If done carelessly, re-gifting can be a recipe for embarrassment and awkward holiday gatherings for years to come. When done properly, you can make out like a debt-free pro!
Related Post: How to Regift on the Down Low
No matter how you plan to spend the holidays, remember the reason for the season. Make this time about fun, family and peace. If you're already in debt, don't let the holidays make it worse. Trying to please everyone is neither worth your sanity nor the risk of taking more baggage, i.e. credit card debt, into the New Year.
Until Next Time,
Follow Patrice on Twitter, @SeekWisdomPCW
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