‘The Budget Mom’ shares tips for staying debt-free over the holidays

Great deals, the search for the perfect gift, pressure to cook a fantastic dinner and buy new decorations for the house – it can all be overwhelming during what is supposed to be the most wonderful time of year.

Many people tend to spend money they don’t have just to keep up. That leads to credit card debt, which can cause even more stress once the bill comes in the new year.

Kumiko Love — also known as “the Budget Mom” — knows this all too well. After a divorce, she found herself with $77,000 in credit card, student loan and car loan debt. She paid it off in just eight months by making changes to her budget. You can read more about that, here.

The holidays were a time that she struggled, but by making a few smart and easy changes, Love said now she is able to enjoy them even more. Here’s her advice to make your holidays a bit more budget-friendly.

Create more traditions

As a single working mom, Love said she has experienced guilt not being with her son as much as she’d like to. She’s constantly looking for ways to create memories during their special time together and Christmas morning is no exception. Instead of opening gifts right away, her son chooses a board game and they play it for hours. Love said her son enjoys that more than presents now!

Leave the credit cards at home

The best way to avoid temptation while shopping during the holiday season, Love said, is to leave credit cards at home and only carry cash that you have budgeted to spend on gifts.

Buy time

Instead of getting your kids the latest gadget, give a gift that you all can enjoy together. A trip to Silverwood theme park or a zip-lining adventure when the weather is better. Lasting memories will be made and it will give the kids something to look forward to!

On top of that, it isn’t something you have to pay for right now. You can plan a date in your head and start saving for the goal if you don’t have a ton of room in your budget for presents. Love said this is something she even does with her friends. Instead of buying each other gifts, they set aside a day and time to get together and do something like a wine and paint night!

Use your hobby to your advantage

Stay up late scrapbooking? Making soap? Candles? Cookies? Instead of buying individual gifts for friends and family, put your hobby to good use and make homemade gifts your loved ones will cherish.

For every special occasion that requires some advanced financial planning – whether it be a birthday, anniversary, wedding or holiday, Love said start getting in the habit of saving in advance. Figure out how much money is needed, then how many months you have before it’s “due.” Divide and make it like a payment each month until you get to your goal.

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‘The Budget Mom’ shares tips for staying debt-free over the holidays