Don’t Let Santa Bring You Debt This Year For Christmas

Even though it’s less than two weeks until December 25th, I’m experiencing a small Christmas miracle: I’m not feeling the holiday panic. Why? The day after Thanksgiving I put together a gift-giving plan for my loved ones and accompanying to-do list and I’ve been chipping away at it — both online and by shopping here and there — ever since. But in terms of my wallet? Yeah, I’m feeling a little anxiety there. According to the National Retail Federation, the average American spends around $700 on Christmas. And for a lot of us, myself included, I think that’s a conservative estimate …

When all is said and done — after I’ve factored in the incidentals like wrapping paper and cards, a new holiday dress, and the cost of holiday get-togethers – I’ll probably spend closer to $1,000. (I do give some gifts as a couple with my husband, but this estimate is what I’ll spend out of my personal budget.) It does usually take me a couple months into the new year to pay that balance off, but that’s completely do-able since I am such a homebody in January and February and have minimized expenses those months as a result. A more worrisome statistic from the National Retail Federation is that 13.6 million Americans are still trying to pay off holiday debt from last year. Wow, that’s upsetting. People, no one wants you to go into debt for the sake of a few Christmas gifts that no one needs anyway!

For those of us straddling the spending-too-much line, CBS Money Watch’s “10 Easy Tips To Save Money This Christmas” has some handy advice, including “use discounted gift cards” and make a promise you won’t spend on yourself” — here’s the full list of tips. What about you: are you staying on a budget you can afford for this year’s Christmas spending? Do you have any helpful Christmastime money-saving tips for the rest of us? [CBS MoneyWatch]