Are you feeling the effects of over spending during the holidays? Here’s how to crush your holiday budget and not go into debt next Christmas. There’s just one catch, you have to start now!

Every year, Christmas creeps up on us like our waistlines after too much shortbread. While it’s wonderful time of year, it’s very expensive.

There are the Christmas gifts, the tree, decorations, extra food and drink, charitable donations, gift exchanges, holiday parties, online shopping, teacher’s gifts, extra “tips”, more travel, time off work…you get the picture.

Here are 5 steps to having a debt-free, “on budget” Christmas:

  1. MAKE A BUDGET:

It seems like a no-brainer but with last Christmas fresh in our minds and our credit cards still smoking in our wallets, it’s time to make a budget for next Christmas. Think of all the extra expenses that you typically incur and create a realistic budget.

2. PAY OFF DEBT:

If you indulged in too many Amazon purchases or used your credit card to buy gifts, you’ll need to first pay off that holiday-related debt and tell yourself, “next year will be different”. You can’t save for next Christmas until you pay off last Christmas.

3. START SAVING:

Once your holiday debts are paid off, start saving up for next Christmas!

Use your budget that you created to calculate how much you need to save each month in order to have enough money to have a nice Christmas without the debt hangover in January.

Each month, put your Christmas savings aside. I highly recommend using an automatic savings plan through a no-fee online bank such as Tangerine*.

If your savings are automatic, you’ll be far more successful at saving money. The money will automatically come out of your chequing account and be safely tucked away in your savings account. Throughout the year, if you decide to start your holiday shopping early, you can always access it by transferring it back to your chequing account.

*Sign-up for Tangerine using our code 13982775S1 and get a $50 account credit when you deposit $100 or more. Free money!

4. SAY NO TO CREDIT:

One of the biggest challenges with Christmas spending is not racking up the credit card. This can be difficult if you purchase gifts online. The trick here is the use a pre-paid credit card for all your Christmas spending.

Simply load your card with the amount you’ve budgeted, and use only this card for all your Christmas purchases. Your “normal” credit cards will get a much needed break and you’ll LOVE your credit card statements in January (think of all the interest you’ll save!).

There are a number of pre-paid cards out there, but I love the KOHO card because it is an app that shows you exactly what you bought and how much money you have left.

There’s no number crunching or adding up receipts because the app does all the tracking and math for you!  Plus you earn cash back and there are no fees unless you purchase items from outside of Canada. Read our full review of the Koho card here.

5. SHOP ONLINE: Shopping online is a great way to stick with your budget and reduce impulse purchases. Plus, with cash back opportunities (KOHO, E-bates.ca) you’ll help offset some of the costs.

With these Christmas budgeting tips, you are sure to have a much more affordable Christmas and a much happier new year!

Disclosure: this posts contains affiliate/referral links. A girl’s gotta pay the bills!