The Christmas season for most is filled with so much joy and excitement. Along with that joy, can come debt that can cause a major financial meltdown. So, as people are walking through the malls and department stores humming Christmas songs, do not forget that bills must be paid after the holiday is over.

There are so many ways to be a smart shopper during this enchanting time. Trying to give each individual that holds a special place in your heart may cause some unwanted stress and even some unwanted debt in the near future - just because you can charge does NOT mean it’ll go away. This is one thing you cannot start fresh on each year.

So, how can you be a smart Christmas shopper and avoid debt that could cause a potential meltdown?

List Making

List Making (Photo credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina})

1) Plan & Start Shopping AFTER Christmas for 2013

To alleviate some of the tension that can be felt, start shopping after December 25th. There are so many retailers that have vast amounts of inventory that must be sold. The prices for high end items can be marked down by 50 percent. That flat screen television that was on someone’s wish list can be purchased way below the market value after Christmas.

When the new year comes in, businesses are trying to get rid of last years products to make room for new stock.

2) Make a list & Set a Budget

Make a list of who will be receiving gifts and set an individual dollar amount that will be spent for presents. For personal friends, the limit could be $25 dollars while family could be a little higher if you’d like.

When a decision cannot be made regarding the present, a gift card will do the trick; while it’s ‘less personal’ it does allow you to stay right on budget and still give sometime they WILL use.

It is okay if presents are not given to the entire family! A lot of times kids recieve gift after gift, one way you can avoid a lot of debt is to buy something small for the children versus something that they’ll use for a couple days and forget about afterward. However, parents should make sure the merchandise for the children is purchased before any other gifts are bought to ensure YOUR family is covered 100%.
For families that have numerous children, explain to the children that it will be a limit set on the number of gifts that they will receive. Let them know this earlier in the year so that they will not be disappointed on Christmas. Now, for those that are skilled in the area of arts and crafts, the opportunity to give homemade gifts to some is also a good idea. There are so many craft books that can guide you through this process.

Santa Sheep with presents (created and uploade...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

3) Think outside the box

Some individuals enjoy the company of a good book. A membership to a book club may be of interest to them. If you have a large personal selection of books that are in good condition, some can be given as gifts. Instead of giving just one book, chose two that you know the reader will enjoy.

It is also possible to find coupons in certain magazines and publications that offer books at a discount. Shopping at thrift stores and flea markets can yield some promising results for books and other gifts.

4) Start saving money now!

Throughout the year, monies can be put away to cover some of the household expenses during this season. Some individuals may double up on mortgage payments or car payments during the year to free up more money for the holidays. If your budget can handle this, the stress level will be minimal. Try to pay cash for presents instead of charging them. Take advantage of the lay-away options that are offered at most major department stores.

Above all, stay within your budget and the meltdown can be avoided. Enjoy!