Debt! Debt! I am done with debt! No more January’s where I am $1000 short after the holidays. A survey by Magnifymoney.com did a national sample of 403 Americans and found the following.
On average Americans are $986 in debt after the holidays.
Gifts, holiday food, hosting parties and travel rack up the credit card debt quickly. A good portion of the debt lands on the credit card. Here is a reality check with hard facts about that $1000 holiday debt.
At a 15% rate on a credit card making just the minimum $25 payment it would take 10 years to pay off, including nearly $400 in interest paid, almost doubling the cost of the holidays. magnifymoney.com
Stop Holiday Debt Before it Starts
Rebecca Confino in her book Stress Free Holidays: Bring Back Peace and Joy divided her budgets into two parts.
Mortgage Budget– housing, clothing, food, gas, insurance, basics living expenses. (Don’t have a budget? Try this quick budgeting set up)
Latte Budget- Mad money, the extra that you have after every fixed item above is paid–movies, gifts, dinner out, toys and travel.
When you give a present purchased with your Mortgage Budget you are being generous, … you are being foolhardy.
Giving presents out of obligation and endangering the family fiances is not a true gift. Not giving a gift to friends and family may be embarrassing at the time but so is not being able to afford the basic needs of your family later. Time with a friend or relative, a heartfelt letter, a skill set you can share with a friend (doing their mending, cleaning their house, sending over a casserole) are all free gifts that mean more than the $5 holiday trinket. Want more? Take a look at these 100 Free Gift Ideas.
Rebecca confides to her readers that after telling the truth about no being able to afford Christmas gifts she was “abler to join everyone and celebrate without worrying about bills I couldn’t pay or keeping up a facade”.
There is no such thing as dishonest joy. Stress Free Holidays
Create A Stop Holiday Debt Budget
You know the perimeters; this budget is derived from you latte budget. Make a list of all the things you would like to do for the holidays.
Put dollar figures next to everyone and everything thing you intend to buy for this holiday season. The trick here is to be honest and to do the process over a day or two. I like to put mine on a tack board and muse over it for a few days to make sure I have not forgotten anyone or thing.
To Stop Holiday Debt Trim Your Budget Before You Trim Your Tree
A pen and a blank sheet of paper are your mightiest weapons against holiday debt. Put the figure next to each item. Using a pen makes it final.
Does it match what you can comfortable spend? If not, trim until it does. Post the budget again where you can see it daily throughout the holiday months. How much more relaxed and patient with your loved ones will you be this holiday season without worry about money?
Trim Your Christmas Tree Debt Free
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is turning the lights out and admiring our freshly cut and decorated Christmas Tree. The whole family snuggles on the couch as we admire and remember each handmade ornament. This activity cost about $15, $10 for the tag to cut the tree, $5 for ingredients for homemade gingerbread cookies and eggnog. Priceless!