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December 11, 2023

The holidays are supposed to be a fun-filled time. But for many, the excitement is short-lived once the festivities end if there’s holiday debt to repay. It doesn’t have to be this way, though, as there are ways to avoid going into the red during the season.

Here are some ways to make the most of the holidays and create lasting memories without racking up debt.

1. Set a spending limit

Start by creating a list, checking it twice, and deciding how much you can comfortably afford to spend. Be sure to include any expenses you expect to incur, like gift-giving, potlucks, or travel if you or your family will hit the road. It’s a simple exercise that takes just a few minutes of your time. You’ll avoid emptying your pockets or, even worse, using a credit card unwisely.

2. DIY gifts

You can also make your own gifts to curb excessive spending and avoid holiday debt. Consider using inexpensive materials to create thoughtful and personalized presents. And putting your time into making gifts adds a special touch that means a lot to those on the receiving end.

3. Simplify traditions

Getting caught up in some of the typical holiday traditions is easy. Think excessive gift-giving, lavish decorations, and extravagant parties. However, you can shift gears this year to keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket. Focus on spending quality time with loved ones rather than solely buying material gifts. This way, you can create lasting memories without the pressure of unnecessary spending.

4. Try a gift exchange

Consider setting a limit to only purchase gifts for one or two individuals. It allows you to enjoy the excitement of gift-giving and receiving. And you'll save time and money while you're at it. Plus, a gift exchange fosters thoughtful giving since you get a short list of recipients.

5. Barter with friends

You can offer things like babysitting or yard work as substitutes for tangible gifts. This is another way to save money, avoid debt, and be thoughtful. It also lets you show appreciation for each other's skills and help out without breaking the bank. Most importantly, this gesture makes the holidays more about kindness and connections than spending money.

6. Shop your home

Check your closets, cabinets, and garage, and gather any holiday items and supplies. Try to repurpose what you already have to cut down on decor costs. This way, you can create a warm and festive atmosphere without spending a fortune. And you can add a few items for a fraction of the cost to provide a personal touch.

7. Share with neighbors

Instead of hosting a massive holiday celebration, join forces with your neighbors. Take turns hosting smaller potlucks to save money and foster a sense of community. Or you can have the party at your place and ask everyone to chip in to make it successful and cost-efficient.

8. Attend free events

Look for local community events like tree lighting ceremonies, concerts, or craft fairs. Many often have free or low-cost admission, which beats paid entertainment. Plus, you can get the festive experience for a fraction of the price, if any at all.

9. Monitor your spending

Once you start shopping, use a financial tool or app to track your purchases. Doing so will help you stay within spending limits. That way, you’ll have a clear picture of your holiday budget to serve as your trusty 'stop shopping' alarm. HawaiiUSA Digital Banking empowers you to track your spending, set alerts, and make use of security features such as blocking your debit card if you misplace it.

Bonus tip: Consider layaway options

You might want to look into layaway programs offered by retailers. They allow you to reserve and pay for items gradually without interest or debt. Layaway helps you buy gifts you want without overspending or resorting to credit.

The bottom line

Don’t let this holiday season be a source of financial stress. By trying these strategies, you can avoid debt and still create precious memories. Plus, you can save some cash and make the most of your time with friends and family.

If you want to be prepared for holiday spending next year, and avoid last-minute spending, how about opening a Christmas Club account? You can easily save through payroll deductions and track your savings amount online during the year.