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How Can You Avoid Holiday Debt This Season?

Written by Student Life Network

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

Originally published on

If you do all of your holiday shopping on a credit card, you actually can spend two to three times as much, once you figure in interest and finance charges. Here are some ways to avoid that dreaded holiday debt.

holiday debt, happy holidays wreath
Photo by Osman Rana via Unsplash

Pay With Cash

Spend money you already have: use Interac, cash, or write cheques. This way, you can’t rack up that holiday debt.

Make a budget (not a per person budget), an overall budget for all of your holiday spending. After the budget is complete, compare it with the amount you have available to spend. If it’s more than you can afford, look for areas to trim expenses.

Lists Are Good

Keep track of how much you spend on gifts, dining, and entertainment. Make a list of travel expenses, holiday clothes, cards, postage, wrapping paper, and decorations. Remember, little things like wrapping paper, shipping and tax add up. So put these things into your budget. Also, look for ways to trim the cost of decorations and wrapping paper. Buy plain paper and have the kids decorate their gifts themselves with stamps or crayons. Use cards from the previous season to make gift tags for this season. If stores offer free gift wrapping, take advantage of it!

Make a list of all of the people who you would like to give gifts to, and rank people on the list.

Decide Before You Leave

Know what you want to buy, and for whom, before you go shopping. Check to see what stores have the best bargains and make a list of the costs. After you finish your list, total the costs and prepare to spend only that amount in each store.

Shop alone when you’re doing the bulk of your gift buying. It will help you avoid impulse spending. Don’t shop while you’re tired or hungry.

Everyone Likes Practical

Steer clear of high price fad items and buy practical gifts that last longer such as clothes, tires, or appliances. Resist the little extra gifts. They often add up and can break your budget.

Think before using your credit card to take advantage of the holiday “bargains.” Comparison-shop, particularly for large ticket items. It’s good to take advantage of these opportunities, but always ask yourself, “Would I buy this if it weren’t on sale?”.


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*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.