These 4 Ideas Will Help You Switch to a Paid-in-Full Holiday This Year

By Jackie Beck   Updated 05/10/2021 at 11:22 am

Break the cycle of buying on credit for the holidays (and then pay pay paying for it in the New Year) starting now.

It’s not too late to plan ahead for this year. Plus, you’ll be in even better shape when next year rolls around.

Picture giving gifts freely

Wondering what life would be like without holiday debt? Picture giving gifts freely, without emotional angst attached to them. The season will be a whole lot more joyful when you’re not stressed about paying for gift-giving — when you buy gifts that you know you can afford.

The transition may be a little bit of a shock at first, especially if you’re still currently paying for previous years’ holidays, but making the change is well worth it. (And future years will be even better, trust me.)

It starts with planning

Switching to a paid-in-full holiday starts with figuring out how much you can afford to spend this year, and then sticking to that amount. (The same goes for next year too, only you’ll start either setting a portion of it aside monthly or buying gifts throughout the year to spread out the expense.)

In short, come up with the total amount you’re able to spend (without resorting to debt) and divide that amount by the number of people you plan to buy for. This gives you a guideline of how much to you’ll have available to spend per person. Naturally you don’t have to spend equal amounts on everyone — divide it however you think best. And remember, it really is the thought that counts.

Making the transition

This may mean scaling back, at least for this year. If you’re comfortable doing so, you could give others a heads up that you’ll be cutting back this year. They may surprise you and decide to do the same. Of course, sometimes scaling back is easier said than done.

It can be hard to give someone a $10 gift when you used to give them a $50 gift. And you may feel worse when you receive gifts that were much more expensive than the gifts you gave. But keep this in mind: A gift is a gift, and part of giving entails learning to gracefully receive.

YOU don’t give people gifts in hopes of making them feel bad — and chances are people aren’t doing that to you either. Focus on appreciating and not comparing. It starts with a mindset change.

Other things to think about

You might also find scaling back easier if you think about this: How would you feel if someone gave you a gift, and you knew they were going to spend the next 12-18 months paying for it at 18% interest? What if you knew your friend or relative was going to be stressed out about making their credit card payment next month? The credit card that they charged your gift on that (shh) you maybe don’t even like all that much?

I’m guessing you wouldn’t want to be given that gift. Your friends and relatives probably wouldn’t either. So do everyone a favor and avoid the “gift” of holiday debt.

Want even more ideas? See how to keep a lid on holiday spending for tips.

How to have a no-debt Christmas and avoid the gift of holiday debt

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