It’s fast approaching and you want to know how to pay for Christmas! I don’t blame you, I’m in the same boat. We have two boys, age 4, and a few other family members to buy for. Maybe you’re fine with putting it all on credit, maybe it’s one of those things you’ll “deal with later”, essentially putting your stress on layaway. Luckily, there are a few things you can do, no matter your situation, to better prepare you for how to pay for Christmas. Sing with me!
Slashing debt, slashing debt, slashing debt today!
But children are wanting, spouses are shopping, and your debt is running away, HEY!
Strike a Pose
You have to take a stand against the holidays, no that doesn’t mean you have to give the kids coal and the spouse a good pat on the back – they might deserve it though! NO! I means I was probably like you, or you like me, at some point Christmas, like any other larger debts were a “necessary evil.” A debt that was just a part of life, like card debt, or student loans. There is a better way and I believe using my steps here you can learn How to Pay for Christmas.
A Very Merry Christmas Limit
You love your family, I get it. You want them to have nice things, things that you didn’t have growing up. Guess what, you didn’t have YOU growing up as a parent. You can do this. Whoever is involved in your Christmas spending HAS to be on the same page as you, the Nice List. If your partner decides to go rogue and get on the naughty list then heads should roll!
Ballpark a figure, try and divide evenly over the number of people you are buying for.
- Does it “feel” like enough to get a meaningful gift or two?
- Does 87 year old grandpa, who sleeps through Dinner, really need anything? It might seem mean or not in the spirit, but really he probably doesn’t need anything. Do or say something nice for him instead; show your thanks for him being around and not sucking up all the money for a $39 dancing santa tie, again. THANKS GRANDPA. Now I have to write this article on how to pay for Christmas!
- Evaluate the list objectively, we tend to focus on the children a little heavier than the adults so we tend to weight the averages in their favor by 60-70%.
- If it all feels low after that, adjust and review!
Christmas: A Case Study
Our immediate family, is 4 people strong. My wife and I have largely agreed to NOT buy anything for each other (we are getting rid of stuff and trying to get debt free after all!) and this will allow us to shift the monetary percentages to the rest of the family. We have two children, she has two brothers, and both of her parents. 6 people. Really… not that bad! We got lucky in that respect but also, again, not buying for each other helps (I suggest you make that pact too if you are serious).
With 6 people to buy for we started with just $1,000 on our quest to pay for Christmas. So, let’s get mathy.
1000 * Child Percentage / Number of Children =Cost Per Child
1000 * .60 / 2 = 300 per child
1000* Adult Percentage / Number of Adults = Cost Per Adult
1000 * .40 / 4 = 100 per adult
Yours might look a little different but use this Spreadsheet to do the math for you: How to Pay for Christmas Spreadsheet, I created to make it faster/easier. Merry Christmas!
We decided that this will work well for our purposes, the kids need new clothes and this allows a budget for that along with a few “I want it” items for them. In addition, they have 4 other adults that are poised to spoil them rotten (against our best judgement). The moral of the story is, choose what works for you and what won’t set you back too far. It also won’t break the bank or kill off our Baby Steps before we get running. While $1,000 might seem like a lot for 6 people for Christmas it works for us this time. It really is a lot but last year we spent easily 2k on the same family and while we aren’t “Gazelle Intense” yet we are growing our horns and racing stripes.
So You Have A Christmas Budget, Do Ya?
Great! You’ve come to a conclusion! How do you get that much money without raiding your savings, robbing a bank, or putting it on credit before December 25th comes around?
- Work extra hours
- Sell some things you don’t need anymore
- Pick up a second job (may be too late for that, but worth a shot if you’re desperate)
If you can’t do any of those things then… I have one last suggestion for you… and… it’s counter intuitive if you’re working to pay off debt but…
- Stop any savings/extra payments you may have
Yes, if your situation is that bad, it is perfectly acceptable to stop making extra payments, stop investing, stop paying extra, and to cut down on any frivolous spending (bring your own coffee instead of that $6 cup you’ve carefully budgeted into your spending).
How We Chose How to Pay for Christmas
It, admittedly, isn’t difficult for us to reach $1,000 before Christmas but we do have my son’s birthday on Thanksgiving this, oh yeah, and THANKSGIVING IS THIS YEAR. More spending on food, right? OH AND CHRISTMAS DINNER. I’m starting to believe that all these holidays are here to take our money… WAIT A MINUTE!
Sorry for my meltdown… so How to Pay for Christmas.
We’ve decided that we can challenge ourselves by removing clutter from our lives, sell off some crap we don’t use/need to reach that $1000. That is the ONLY way we are making this $1,000. If we had to make $2,000 for whatever reason, we would have likely adjusted our budgeted categories as best we could (trim out any built in niceties like that quad shot espresso). As well as try to get a few extra hours here and there. If it was $5,000 I’d question our reality and cut ties with 3rd cousins for the holidays, but some have this budget and if you do, then you have a lot of work today and will have to do EVERY combination of the above steps to get there without impacting your current debt payoff goals.
Our $1000 Surplus Progress
So far, since Monday (October 30th, 2017) we’ve sold:
- A Bike: $140
- A Miter Saw: $44
- An Old Netbook: $35
- Student Drafting Table: $40
For a grand total of $259/$1000 = 26%
I’ve listed about $4-600 more on various outlets (LetGo, OfferUp, Craigslist) and the side effect of this is that people are looking for gifts to give others; so you may be essential in someone else’s budget Christmas!
“THE CIRRRRRCLE OF LLLIIIIFFFFFE” ~Lion King