Start Planning for the Holidays Now to Avoid Debt!

By, Nicole Crimaldi

As you put away your Halloween decorations for the year, it’s time to start thinking about the holiday season. I know you’re thinking, “Why?! It’s only November 2!” Exactly.

Most Americans rack up tons of debt on holiday gifts because they fail to plan ahead.

If you get paid bi-weekly that means you have 3-4 paychecks left (as of this post) before all of your holiday shopping needs to be done. That is plenty of time to set some money aside so that you don’t have to use your credit card at all for holiday gifts this year.

You might be thinking, “that’s a nice concept, but I have way too many people to shop for.” Think differently this year.

For example, my best friend and I have started a “holiday dinner” tradition where we go to dinner and drinks rather than exchanging gifts. We’d probably be going out anyways, but we aren’t accumulating extra expenses on gifts and we really look forward to it!

As for my two sisters, I’m planning on asking them to donate their Christmas gift to those in our family who could use the gifts more than us this year. I will also encourage them to do the same with my Christmas gift. Giving to our less fortunate family members is a much better feeling than buying more PJ’s, perfume and junk that we don’t really need.

For your girlfriends, consider doing something together for charity this year rather than buying gifts. For example, you could volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate old clothes together or run a 5k for charity.

You may find that giving to the less fortunate or creating memories is much more fulfilling than buying someone a gift.

Don’t be afraid to think big while making a donation. Many charities will take rather large contributions such as an ATV, RV, or even a boat. It is easy to go online and learn more about boat donations. The process is simple, just choose the charity you would like to give to and wait a few days to receive the associated paperwork. This not only gives you some extra space in the garage, but it assists a number of excellent causes.

For those who you do decide to buy a gift for, sit down and make a budget ASAP. Even after reducing the number of gifts you give, you will probably be surprised at how quickly things add up. Divide the total by the number of paychecks you have left before Christmas/Hanukkah so you know how much you need to put away in order to end 2009’s holiday season debt-free.

Happy planning!

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.

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