The holiday season seems to bring with it budget-busting expenses. Many of us find ourselves pulling out the credit cards in an attempt to meet all our expenses when it comes to the holidays. From Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year, it’s easy to spend beyond your means. Here are some ways to avoid debt this holiday season:

Re-evaluate Your “Needs”

The first thing you need to do is re-evaluate your “needs”. While it’s fun to spend on your holiday food, entertainment and gifts, take a step back and figure out what is really necessary. Make a list of holiday priorities. In some cases, you might be surprised to discover that maybe your children don’t need one more toy, or that it isn’t really necessary to spend money on an expensive table centerpiece that will only be used once.

Part of re-evaluating your needs includes going through what you already have and making a note of it. If you already have outdoor decorations from last year, do you really need to buy more? Could you, perhaps, make some of the items on your list, rather than buying them? Carefully consider your situation, make your shopping list, and determine which items are most important to purchase. Those should be the things to take care of first; maybe you can avoid buying less important items. It’s an automatic way to save.

Put Together a Plan for Saving Now

Add up what you expect to spend during the holiday season, and make a plan to meet your obligations. Decide how much you can set aside each week to go toward holiday spending. You can either spend that amount each week, stocking up and preparing for the holidays (you can use layaway at some stores to help you with gifts), or you can set that money aside in some sort of account used for that purpose. If you figure that you need to set aside $50 a week to pay for your holiday spending, and you don’t use that $50 one week, save the money so that it starts to add up.

The earlier you put a plan into action, the better off you’ll be. You can purchase items little by little, as they go on sale, or as you find coupons, or you can save the money up and spend it at once when you reach your goal amount. Breaking it down, though, can help a great deal when it’s time to pay the bills.

Look for Ways to Earn More

If you don’t think you can cut back, or save up the requisite amount of money, you need to take a more active approach. Look for ways to earn more money. Consider a seasonal job, or think about starting a side hustle, or looking for quick cash, such as what you can get for plasma donation. Earning more is a way that you can improve your situation, and make sure you have the cash to avoid borrowing in order to pay for your holiday expenses. If you are going to spend, it’s important that you have the resources to do so if you aren’t willing to cut expenses.



Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.