Whether you survive the Christmas period without getting into debt depends very much on your mindset. Everyone knows and understands the basic principles of staying out of debt, but the success of putting theory into practice is often sabotaged by emotion. Budget advisers recommend starting early to save for Christmas, setting a Christmas budget, making lists of who to buy for and how much to spend on each person, keeping a tally of how much you have spent, and going into debt only as a last resort. This is very sound advice, but usually only works for those who are easily able to control their emotions. If you overspend at Christmas, here are some extreme ideas to help keep your finances under control.
Be an extreme shopper. Avoid the Christmas frenzy by leaving all your shopping to the last few days before Christmas, so that you don’t have time to spend too much and you can take advantage of last minute discounts. Alternatively, do all your shopping earlier in the year when sales are on, well before the Christmas frenzy strikes.
Play the Boxing Day game. Make a family game of buying all presents on Boxing Day and opening them that night. That way, you buy at bargain prices and there is a strict time limit that will help reduce your spending.
Cut up your credit cards. Make it difficult for yourself to go into debt by removing temptation. Alternatively, ask your bank to lower the credit limit on your cards.
Take a year off. Tell your friends and family that for one year only, you are not going to buy presents. This will allow you to pay off last year’s Christmas debts, save up for next year’s spending in advance, and break the pattern of going into debt.