It seems a little early to be talking about Christmas. I mean at this point, we are at the end of August, still hanging out in shorts and tees, drinking ice cold water and enjoying the sun and long nights.
Talking about Christmas seems to put big damper on the rest of the summer. It’s a killjoy! You know the feeling when you walk into the stores and they start putting Christmas stuff out in October, many, including us, seem to stop and say “SERIOUSLY!”
I was in Hobby Lobby the end of July, and they already had Christmas stuff up! It does make sense for a craft store, because being a hobbyist myself, you need a few months to make your projects so you can start selling them during the October and November craft shows. But it is still sorta depressing to talk about, see it and have it floating around you in the middle of summer.
But the truth is…if we DON’T talk about it now, if we don’t think about it now and if we don’t plan for it now, it will be a killjoy during Christmas time.
We have spent the last 13 Christmases debt-free. Basically, ever since we have had children, our Christmases have been debt-free. How ironic is that? When it was just the two of us, we went in debt for Christmas. Then we had cute little human beings, a time when many generally spoil and go “all-out.” Yes, we did it backwards.
How we went deep in debt for Christmas early in our marriage
In fact, I remember our second Christmas together very well. We lived a few hours from a big city. We decided that it would be really fun to stay in a downtown hotel and shop the expensive downtown mall and specialty shops for the Black Friday weekend.
After celebrating Thanksgiving with extended family, we hopped in a car and drove 3-hours south and stayed downtown for a couple of nights and shopped for two-days. We had no budget, we had no plan, we just wanted to buy gifts for each other, friends and family in the big city. And that’s what we did. As long as we could pull-out a credit card that was accepted, it was all good.
We honestly, to this day, don’t know how much we spent that Christmas or the four Christmases we had without kids. But we can tell you, those debt-filled Christmases caused us so much headache, trials, stress and frustration for many of the following years as we were still paying the bills from the previous Christmas as the next Christmas season hit.
It wasn’t until we realized that we were going to be parents that the reality of our situation really hit us.
How we have debt-free Christmases
From that point forward, we were determined to have a debt-free Christmas. And for those few Christmases where we were paying off our $100K of consumer debts, they were very low-spending Christmases, but very blessed because they were debt-free, they were not as focused on the material possessions and a time of renewal and understanding about the season.
And even today, being debt-free and heading into our 6th Christmas without any debts at all, we still avoid Christmas debt and plan. We actually save a little from the first paychecks of the year. It’s easier for us to save a little starting January 1, then saving a lot more towards the end of the year.
However, no matter where you are in your Christmas savings – whether you have a nice pocket of funds or haven’t started at all – this is where we want to help!
No matter how close we are to Christmas, you can follow the 3-6-9 plan!
What is the 3-6-9 plan?
It stands for $300, $600 or $900. When we were in debt and working hard to pay it off, we had $300 Christmases. We can’t say it was the easiest to fit in presents, food, special events and all for $300, but it also made the challenge a fun game. We also had little kids at the time.
The THREE biggest things that helped us stay in this $300 budget with kids was the fact that we started shopping in August – October. Last year’s toys and the toys would be on major markdowns and clearances. Why? The short story is that the stores (like Toys R Us) are clearing shelves and inventory to make room for the “hottest toys of the season.”
We go into more detail about this in this article titled: How To Save Money on School Clothes and Christmas Presents Right Now.
The second thing that is huge for us are garage sales, classifieds and used items. We don’t personally see any issue with gifting second-hand items as gifts. If it is something they want, something they would use, why pay an arm and a leg for a new label or packaging? Our children receive VERY nice gifts that we found at garage sales and in the classifieds online and groups on Facebook.
You can read more on this topic here (click the picture to be taken to the article):
The third thing is making handmade gifts, especially for extended family like grandparents, parents, each other, friends, etc. We have many handmade gift ideas on our site in our DIY section, as well as on our Handmade Gifts Board on Pinterest.
A tip if you currently have $0.00 in Christmas Fund
If you haven’t started at all, consider having a penniless week! Thousands of our readers have participated in these penniless weeks with us. This is a “jumpstart” savings and a great way to boost your Christmas fund FAST! It’s also a fun challenge!
At the end of 7-days, most everyone has had $200-$350 extra! And anyone can do this for 7-days! It may be more difficult for some, but it’s a great activity and character building opportunity for all!
Read about how the Penniless Challenge works below:
Time to start the savings!
Finally, it’s time to start saving! Whether you want an additional $300, $600 or $900 for Christmas, we have a weekly savings plan for you!
And this plan can be adjusted, meaning if one week the most you can contribute is $17, the GREAT! If you shoot for $17, but can actually contribute $34 – or even $50 – that’s GREAT! It’s made to be flexible and at the minimum, provide you with $300 extra dollars to add to whatever you may have!
How this works
Simply print off this savings plan sheet. Starting this week, save either $17, $34 or $50.
Select which one you will be putting into Christmas savings by circling the amounts. Select multiples if you have the extra money to contribute, or use the second space to write in a different amount than the $17, $34, $50. Then write your current total on the last line with the circled amounts and any extra amount you put in.
This is a fun, visual way to see what you have and what you can spend to have a debt-free Christmas.
Print off your 3-6-9 Christmas Savings Plan below:
|<== Download your printable 3-6-9 Christmas Savings Plan HERE|
Additional Tips for a Debt-Free Christmas
Here’s some additional articles to help and encourage you to have a nice, debt-free Christmas (just click on the image to be taken to the article):
Finally, we have a 17-page Christmas Planner to help you intentionally decide where you $300, $600 or $900 Christmas savings will be spent, along with planning your time during the Christmas season. You can purchase these planner printables for only $1.99 for all 17-pages!