Late Thanksgiving Day joined Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the early holiday shopping frenzy. As November dawns holiday advertising starts to appear online and on television as well as in print.
Don’t get lost in the commercialism and forget the true meaning of the holidays. They are a time to rest, reflect, and celebrate joy.
Mary Hunt, a personal finance author, offers a great balance between meanings and merchandise in her book “Debt Proof Your Christmas,” which she wrote after accumulating holiday shopping debt over 20 years.
Hunt recognizes that no one solution is the best for celebrating the holidays. She shows readers how to have a cash-free Christmas and avoid the January bills. She covers many topics including gift giving, holiday entertaining and decorating the home.
Avoid seasonal debt by planning and preparing for the holidays. Time is the best way to keep yourself from getting emotionally involved in the holidays. “While you aren’t emotionally involved is the time when you can think rationally.”
Hunt has some memorable holiday-celebrating ideas:
Attitude.Hunt says, “How you spend Christmas holidays and what you celebrate are completely your choice.”
Courage.It doesn’t matter if you are single, married, or have children. You can still buy gifts for your family members, regardless of whether they are financially stable. You can find the courage to give what you want and not because of guilt or expectation. Don’t let others dictate what you should spend. Give gifts that are creative.
Cash in envelopes. You can set a dollar amount for each gift recipient and then place the money in an envelope. It’s not worth it to buy gifts for someone else if the money runs out.
Cash will make you a more disciplined shopper and help you to get the best deals.
Gift certificates Hunt emphasizes that gift cards are not equal to cash and that they can only be used to purchase specific store credit that is subject to the store’s policies and rules. Hunt has some gift-card giving tips:
- Gift cards should be given only if they are on the recipient’s top wish list.
- Many gift cards lose their value within six months of activation.
- Avoid gift cards for children. They are too abstract. Give cash instead.
Outlet stores. Shopping at outlets has become a unique experience that requires savvy shopping. Hunt offers these tips for outlet shopping:
- Do not wait for big sales. Outlets operate on the same schedule as regular shops, and offer the best deals around major holidays.
- Ask sales associates about the quality of the merchandise.
- Ask about out-of season merchandise in the back of our store that is available at rock-bottom prices.
Traditions from the family. Traditions provide families with assurance that, even in uncertain times and in a changing world there are things they can rely on to remain the same.
A tradition to consider is collecting 24 books that reflect your family’s holiday values and beliefs. Wrap the books in paper and allow your children to choose and open one of the books before going to bed.
Hunt surveyed readers about their favourite holiday books (Christmas, Hanukkah), and compiled a list of the twenty-four most-read titles.
Hunt’s readers share their inspirational stories about how they personalize their holiday celebrations.
One family created a memories box for their loved ones, asking them to share thoughts and future plans. On Christmas Eve, relatives open the boxes and look back at their entries.
Debt-Proof Your Christmas is a treasure trove of holiday-enhancing websites. It includes an organization that distributes Christmas gifts to children in need around the globe. There’s also a site that allows you to bid on items unclaimed in police station stolen property rooms.
Hunt provides advice on holiday tipping and charitable donations. “The best charities don’t spend more on administrative costs than twenty-fiveci from every dollar donated.”
Hunt has nine affirmations to inspire you to avoid holiday debt.
Debt-Proof Your Holidays will serve as your guide year-round to help you have a memorable, debt-free holiday season. Hunt offers some helpful tips to help you get an all-cash holiday this year.
Organized Christmas can help you organize Christmas and make your holiday simpler.