17 Ways to Keep Your Holidays Debt-Free

Get real about your finances

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First there was the layoff. Next, a major car repair. And then your spouse got sick and the medical co-pays mounted.

Even so, don’t fall into this trap: “After everything we’ve gone through, we deserve a great Christmas.”

This year, be honest about what you can afford to spend. Create a budget that includes all costs and, if it looks unmanageable, start cutting. Feel free to skip expensive traditions, making cost-effective substitutions like these:

  • Opt for e-cards (especially funny ones from sites like JibJab.com).
  • Instead of eating out, invite friends for an open house with inexpensive punch and homemade cookies.
  • Rather than giving many medium-sized gifts, find a gift for the entire family, such as an annual pass to the zoo or children’s museum.

When you get push-back, say, “Yes, this is different. But it’s been a tough year, and we can’t afford to go into debt to celebrate.” Ask your household for suggestions for a fun, meaningful celebration.

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