10 Money Saving Tips for a Debt Free Christmas

Christmas will soon be upon us and there are few holidays better known for good tidings, cheer, and the ability to get you further into debt. So how do you keep the first two characteristics of the holiday season and lose the last one?

It might not be easy, and shopping might not be as much fun, but it is possible to get through the holidays without going into debt. Here are a few ways in which you can still spread goodwill toward men and manage to come out with your budget in tact.

1. Beat the Season

Start your Christmas shopping in the off-season or right after the holidays have come and gone. Keep an alert eye open for bargains, sales, and discounts throughout the year and load up when you see that perfect gift at the perfect price. Not only will picking up the occasional gift during store sales cost you less, but it will also, critically, spread the costs out over a longer period of time so your budget doesn’t take a large hit all at once.

2. Hit the Discount Stores

These days, people often shop for a brand name rather than the product itself. Just because something is expensive or well known, doesn’t mean it’s a higher quality product. Therefore, consider shopping at discount stores for gifts on your list. Often you can find the gifts you are looking for at greatly reduced prices compared to department stores.

3. Shopping for Stocking Stuffers

It seems that the idea of stocking stuffer gifts has reached extreme proportions. Video games, iPods, cell phones, cameras, CDs, and DVDs have replaced the oranges, peppermint sticks, and pennies of the early 20th century. But do we really need to spend hundreds of dollars just on stocking stuffers? Consider instead, visiting the local dollar or discount store and loading up on quirky and unique, yet affordable toys, treats, and trinkets that won’t break your budget.

4. Go Online for More Savings

Finding great savings online has never been easier. Cost comparisons, product ratings, and customer reviews make finding gifts online really quick and easy. The internet can provide you with the information to make an informed decision as to whether the price you’re paying is competitive and reasonable and whether you are actually buying a quality product.

5. Watch out for Exclusive Online Discounts

One of the best aspects of online shipping is the discounted prices and deals. With everything from free shipping to store discounts for using PayPal or signing up as a new customer, online discounts are everywhere you look. They are even more prevalent during the holiday season when competition among online retailers is fierce.

6. Take Advantage of Coupons

While checking the local paper is still advantageous when it comes to finding store discounts, sales, and coupons, the range of coupons available online is almost endless. By way of specialized coupon websites or through stores sites themselves, always check for the latest coupons before you buy.

7. Don’t Forget Gift Cards

While typically gift cards won’t save you much money, many stores have recently started gift card discounts that have made them a budget buy. Some stores and restaurants are offering deals such as, buy a $100 gift card and receive a $25 gift card free. This type of deal can cover two gifts for the price of one and help keep you’re budget under control.

8. Saving With Credit Cards is Possible

Credit cards can be another great way to save during the gift-giving season. Cash back, store discounts, frequent flier miles, and other incentives can be a fantastic way to save. One example of utilizing a credit card when doing your Christmas shopping is illustrated by use of a store cash back credit card. The store’s point structure might allow for a 10% discount off a total purchase once you reach a given level of points on your card. If you use this discount when doing a large portion of your Christmas shopping, say $500, it’s the same as saving $50. Pair this discount with seasonal store sales and you could save a good deal more. Just make sure that what you put on your credit card, you can pay off in full quickly.

9. Hunt Out Thrift, Consignment and Antique Stores

Not everyone likes the standard new or store-bought gifts. Some like things slightly used, or with what one might call a little character. While plenty of antique stores can be pricey, if you know what you’re looking for and where it should be priced, you can still get a good deal. And while thrift and consignment stores might not sound classy enough for Christmas shopping, you never know what will turn up in such shops, especially at a time when people are getting rid of their ‘stuff’ just to get some cash in hand.

10. Look out for Garage Sales

One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. While at times junk mayindeed just be junk, there are plenty of occasions where people just aren’t knowledgeable about the items they selling. Similar to thrift and consignment stores, you might stumble across something that would make a perfect gift for someone you know at a price that can’t be beaten! Bear in mind though, since garage sales are largely seasonal, you will have to do your shopping ahead of time during the warmer months.

What are your Savings tips?


  1. says

    Hey Tom, I think you missed a BIG one. BUDGET FOR THE HOLIDAYS! My wife and I have set aside $500 in cash to buy gifts for our family and friends. It keeps us from using credit cards and gets us thinking about what we can buy to stay under the $500 limit. This will be our first Christmas not using credit!

  2. Recessionista says

    These are great suggestions, what I would add is to buy within your limit. I am sure your family members will not be too thrilled with very extravagant gifts from you knowing you have a hard time paying your bills.

  3. says

    Tip for the radically frugal ones: convert to a cheaper religion / claim atheism.

  4. says

    I love all of these tips. Another great idea is to make a separate budget just for Christmas. It’s amazing how all of the little extras add up like food and drinks when entertaining, holiday clothing, and last minute gifts. If you write them all down, it makes it easier to see what you need to plan for.

  5. Tax Lawyer says

    The key is to not use credit cards. Just take out the cash for your presents and when it’s gone it’s gone. This will make you budget wisely because when it comes to presents you don’t want to see someone left out.

  6. Nikki says

    I agree Tax Lawyer, use cash!!!!!! Also, I would take advantage of “pay as you go” programs. This includes cell phones. If you are planning to get a loved one a cell phone for Christmas, get them a prepaid wireless phone. I got my kids on the Verizon/Tracfone network with Straight Talk. It is $45 a month and give them unlimited talk and text and 30MB of data. There are no activation, overage, or cancellation fees. Best part is…you don’t have to put it on your credit card because there is no monthly bill. You PAY AS YOU GO. Great deal, huh?

  7. says

    Like they say…cash is king! Especially for folks with little discipline (most of us).Just cut up the plastic.

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