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How to Avoid Holiday Debt

How to Avoid Holiday Debt

Jeanette Pavini has some helpful tips.


Planning and saving for holiday expenses is the only way you will avoid making “Getting Out of Debt” your New Years Resolution! You have to start now. Period!



1) Use a budget template to create an overall holiday budget Download our Excel® spreadsheet and customize it to your needs

TIP: Organize your holiday spending plan in a binder; include your coupons and budgets

TIP: Make a holiday spending spreadsheet to organize and keep track of your spending

1) Gift Log - Make a list of all the people you want to buy for, how much you want to spend on each and leave an area where you can jot down gift ideas

2) Calendar of events: Print up a blank Calendar for October-December. Mark all events and what expenses will be associated with the event. Also mark dates such as shipping deadlines. I will show a calendar as an example

TIP: Create a calendar to mark important dates such as shipping deadlines

1)  Menus/Recipes/Shopping List: Plan holiday menus early on and spread out your grocery shopping so you never have to break your weekly food budget and save time

TIP: Create holiday shopping menu’s now and start shopping for weekly sale items

TIP: Fall sales on apples = assemble & freeze pies

TIP: Shop sales to pre-bake and freeze pies and side dishes now

1) Save bread crusts/scraps in a freezer bag to make stuffing

2) Coupons

3) Rebates

4) Layaway


Paycheck Deduction: Start tucking away a portion of each paycheck into a holiday fund. If you’re paid every two-week, you’ll have about 8 pay periods to tuck money away

TIP: Set up an automatic transfer from your paycheck into a Christmas fund

TIP: Set a holiday spending goal now and budget towards that

TIP: Aim for $55/week savings starting now to reach a $825 goal by Christmas

TIP: Count your savings each week and deposit into a Christmas fund account

1) Savings Jar – stash extra cash

TIP: Stash daily savings in a holiday fund jar

TIP: Every time you save money on something, put the savings in your jar

1) Grocery List; Take amount saved at bottom of grocery receipt and put in jar

2) Credit Card Rewards: Cash out credit card rewards and put into jar

3) Gift Cards: Trade in unused gift cards from last Christmas at a gift card exchange kiosk (located in many grocery stores)

TIP: Trade in unused gift cards for cash; look for exchange kiosks in many grocery stores

1) Store Change: Pay up when using cash. For example if something is $10.25, give the cashier $11 and stash the change in the jar!


1) If you plan on using layaway, you’ll want to sign up in October

2) Sign up for store and manufacturer newsletters or mailing list to get an extra discount.  Example, I just did for a bath supply company and got a special 15% off to use on my first purchase.

TIP: Many retailers offer discounts for first time customers

1) If you plan to do a lot of online shopping you may want to download an app to keep track

2) Slice: tracks online purchases in one place, alerts when price get down in case you are eligible for a price adjustment

TIP: Apps help you keep track of online purchases, check “Slice”

1) Assess credit card rewards so you can use any bonus offers to your advantage on holiday shopping.

TIP: Link your credit card to a savings account and transfer rewards points

TIP: Way To Save savings accounts allow you to build your holiday savings account free

1)  Example offers for Q4 (October – December)

2) Chase Freedom offers 5% back on Amazon October – December

TIP: https://Creditcards.Chase.com/freedom

1) Some Citi cards: 5% back on Best Buy and department stores

TIP: Citi.com/credit-cards-citi/citi.action?ID=dividend-quarterly-offer

1) Some Discover cards: Amazon.com, Department stores and clothing stores

TIP: DiscoverCard.com

**most cards require you to activate these offers (i.e. you won’t automatically receive them, you have to sign up)

TIP: Ask your banker to activate cash back rewards on your credit card offers

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Get more from Jeanette at JeanettePavini.com and follow her on Twitter @JeanettePavini

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