How To Stay Out Of Debt This Christmas

Christmas is supposed to be the "most wonderful time of the year" but for many people, it can be a stressful time for many reasons, including managing finances.

There is often a lot of pressure to buy presents and the purchase the most wonderful gifts, but what if you can't afford it? At this time of year, it can be hard to say no, especially in a culture that expects you to 'Keep up with the Joneses' and 'buy now and pay later.' I remember when I was in my first two years of university. I felt a lot of pressure from my flatmates/housemates to buy gifts and get involved in Secret Santa and things like that. I like nice things but I'm not extremely materialistic and I hate being pressured into buying things. When you're a poor student and you're faced with the expectation of buying a gift for someone - especially a flatmate who disrespects and dislikes you - it's not a great feeling.

I'm certainly not a money expert - talk to Martin Lewis/Mrs Moneypenny/Alvin Hall instead - but I've always been a bit careful with money. I learned to budget and save when I was a kid so I've always learned the value of money. I currently own four savings accounts and I've applied for a fifth, and while I think it's okay to 'treat yo'self' it's important to be realistic and prioritise. I don't have a lot of disposable income, my income goes up and down (because I freelance) and I do have financial commitments - such as saving my taxes, saving up for a flat, travelling around London and buying groceries and essentials for the household - so quite often, I have to prioritise paying for the important things in life before treating myself.

Even though I am no longer a poor student (yay) I still choose to live on a budget, and I've never been the type of person to mindlessly 'blow' my money on unnecessary and superficial purchases. I'm not a Scrooge but I like to watch where my money is going, and I love a bargain! I'd rather save my money than spend it. I hate owing money and I like to earn it - financial independence is very important to me. I am scared to get a credit card, I don't borrow from others and when I paid of my student overdraft recently, I felt a huge sense of relief. It took me a year and a month to pay it off so when I paid it off and asked my bank to get rid of the facility I was overjoyed.

So many people get into debt over Christmas, which is worrying. It's understandable if you want to buy gifts and/or entertain, but you can have a fun and enjoyable Christmas without getting yourself into a bit of a pickle.

Here are the ways you can stay out of debt this Christmas.

Grab a bargain!
In the lead up to Christmas, there are so many stores that have discounts and special offers available. Take advantage of these where-ever and whenever you can.

Bonus tip: get prepared and start planning in advance. Many companies sell Christmas products at a significantly reduced rate for clearance purposes in January, so you can pick up some Christmas items and store them for next December.

Don't take out a loan or credit card!
Honestly, don't do this unless you are financially stable and in a position to pay it off in full. Don't rely on credit cards - pay in cash instead.

Get crafty.
If you are creative, then why not DIY and make your own presents? You could always buy the tools you need from budget stores (such as Poundland, Wilkos and The Works). You could save yourself some money, and it's the thought that counts.

Set up a budget.
If you are spending money this Christmas, then put yourself on a budget. Think about how much you are willing or able to spend, and try to stay within that number.

Don't make unnecessary purchases.

Don't buy items for the sake of it. There's no need. Take a disciplined approach.

Buy second-hand items.
There are so many places where you can purchase high-quality products at second-hand shops, such as charity shops, market stalls and online marketplaces. Alternatively, give away items that you don't use anymore.

Purchase gifts online.
There are a lot of online stores so you can shop at your convenience and you are more likely to find better deals.

Prioritise and pay in advance.
Before you splurge on Christmas gifts, make sure the bills for December and January are covered. This gives you a bit of financial safety net, so that you can focus on other things.

Don't buy at all.
Of course, Christmas is a time for giving, but there are many ways to do this - you don't have to buy presents at all. I don't buy presents because I'd rather save my money and I think Christmas is all about spending time with the people who love and care about you. Don't give in to pressure and don't feel guilty about not buying presents - only buy if you want to, you are not obliged to do so. If you want to give, then sending a Christmas card will be enough - that's what I do!

No matter how much or how little you spend, you can be sure to have a fun and enjoyable debt-free Christmas if you take the right approach.

For more information on debt solutions, click here.

*This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

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