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This is Day 13 of the 30 Days to a Debt Free Christmas Challenge
Today's advice is for parents – 3 Ways to Create the Perfect Debt Free Christmas For Your Toddler
This is a guest post from Catherine Alford at www.BudgetBlonde.com
Is it just me or did I blink and all of sudden it’s the holiday season? With a full time job, a husband in medical school, and twin toddlers, I feel lucky just to get a little mascara on in the morning let alone plan for the upcoming holiday season (and by upcoming I mean it’s coming like, now).
With a medical school graduation looming and a half a million dollars in student loan debt to go along with it, my husband and I are very committed to staying debt free in all other aspects of our lives and practicing minimalism. So, we plan on having a very small Christmas for our toddlers that does not include accruing any debt whatsoever.
Recent statistics project that consumers will spend $630 billion dollars during the 2015 holiday season. Not only that, but approximately 38% of shoppers used a credit card for their purchases last year, and I imagine about the same will be true for this year. When you pay for Christmas with credit cards, it makes it harder to have a completely debt free holiday season since some of those charges can chase you well into the new year.
So, my first tip for having an amazing debt free Christmas for your toddler is to:
1. Pay In Cash
Now look, I’m a big fan of airline miles and cash back credit cards just as much as the next person. However, the holiday season is so infused with emotion and sales (oh, the sales!) that it can be hard to keep spending in check. The only way to really control your spending and make sure everything is on track is to pay in cash.
I recommend making a list of everyone you want to purchase gifts for with a dollar amount next to it. Then, take out that dollar amount in cash and head to the mall. Or, if you want to shop online, you can use your debit card. If you don’t have enough money in your bank account to shop for everyone, then you should adjust your list. It’s really not worth it to spend more than you can afford when most kids will be completely thrilled with just a few new toys. And, speaking of new toys, have you ever heard of the four gift rule?
2. Try the 4 Gift Rule
Some of you have likely heard of this before, but if you haven’t, the idea is to only give your kids four gifts for Christmas: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
My husband and I were committed to sticking to this rule last year, and I have to say, it was quite a success. We spent just a little bit of money on our kids, and it really was a magical Christmas morning. This year, we’re going to do the exact same thing.
Let’s face it – they’re toddlers. They aren’t going to remember this Christmas morning at all. Instead of inundating them with gifts, I’d much rather take $100 and invest it on their behalf. We plan on only buying them a small amount of gifts and then pulling out some toys they haven’t seen in a while from their closet and pretending like they’re new (What? Like you haven’t done it!). Remember, they aren’t teenagers; they won’t know the difference.
3. Think Outside the Box
The last piece of advice I would give for having a debt free Christmas is to think outside of the box. Right now, there is a massive train table in my basement that I got on Craigslist for $50.00. I have to fix it up a bit, but I’m really happy with the purchase, and it will be their main gift this holiday season.
You can also scour thrift stores and garage sales. As stated before, when your kids are little, they don’t know the difference between a red bike that’s brand new or slightly used. That’s the beauty of having toddlers during the holiday season and the main reason why you should be able to have a completely debt free Christmas this year.
Do you have a toddler? What do you plan on getting them for Christmas?
Read more from Catherine Alford at www.BudgetBlonde.com.
Catherine Alford is the go to personal finance expert for educated, aspirational moms who want to recapture their life passions, earn more, reach their goals, and take on a more active financial role in their families. Named the Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance in 2014, her writing and expertise have been featured in dozens of notable publications. She is also the founder of www.BudgetBlonde.com, an award winning personal finance blog that she created in 2010.