haven't budgeted for Christmas

What to do when you haven’t budgeted for Christmas and it looks like you may need to skip it…

While skipping Christmas is certainly an option, there are a few more options available. If you’re still in baby step two the last thing you want to do is add to your existing debt. If you currently have on debt don’t go back into it just to put a few presents under the tree. Don’t be like the 769 consumers polled after Christmas last year who averaged over $1000 in holiday debt with 42% saying they had no plans to pay it off within three months. Here are five tips to try if you haven’t budgeted for Christmas but still want to spread some holiday cheer without going into debt.

See Related: Holiday Debt Could Take Years to Pay Off from CNBC

Go Minimalist and Cut Back on the Yule Tide Celebrations if You Haven’t Budgeted for Christmas – Way Back

This involves skipping a few things. The optional gift exchanges at the office? Probably not happening. All the party invitations? You’ll need to decline any and all you can that require money being spent.

This is one of those times minimalism comes in really handy; if you remember from Minimalism and Christmas: 5 Tips for Minimalist Holidays, that it can be very beneficial to keep the calendar from being too full will save you some time, stress, and money. That last one is crucial! If you haven’t budgeted for Christmas then you’re going to need to make every dollar count, now more than usual!

You could even totally rethink the annual Christmas dinner with friends and family. Change it up and have fun making new memories while saving money at the same time with these 3 Frugal Holiday Dinner Ideas That Won’t Break the Bank.

Get a Side Hustle

If the idea of skipping Christmas or cutting back the gift list isn’t appealing at all or an option you would consider, there are still a few weeks to get in a side hustle and make some money for Christmas. You’ll want to be sure you will be paid before the actual holiday in order to make this work.

I have 6 Legitimate Side Hustle Ideas to help you get your hustle on. So check them out, get hustling, and make some bank to finance a little Christmas generosity.

Give Handmade Gifts if You Haven’t Budgeted for Christmas

These can be much more thoughtful than store-bought presents, and done right they can also be much less expensive. Here are 25 Thoughtful Ideas for Handmade Christmas Gifts to give you some inspiration. Also, be sure to check out a Life on a Dime’s YouTube channel weekly between now and then for some DIY videos that would make great gifts.

If you do choose to go the handmade route you’ll want to get your list together and get started sooner rather than later. Also, be sure to go over your November and December budgets now to see what you can cut from your budget now in order to have money to buy needed supplies. I have lots of suggestions on budget cuts and how to save money on the blog if you need more ideas than the ones linked here.

haven't budgeted for Christmas

If You Do Have to Skip Christmas…

There is no shame in admitting you can’t afford to do something. If buying gifts this holiday season or hosting the big, party you traditionally do is simply not an option make sure to let people know as early as possible.

And please don’t think that the fact that you aren’t buying gifts for anyone means you’re confined to your house while friends and family are gathered to celebrate. Chances are someone else in your family is preparing to spend money they don’t have this holiday season. They might breathe a sigh of relief when you come forward to say you won’t be participating in gift exchanges this year.

So go ahead, attend the family dinners and church pageant without reservation. Christmas is about love and family and sharing the news of the greatest gift we could possibly receive. No need to lose sight of that with all the consumeristic trappings that have become standard. It may turn out to be one of the best Christmases ever! At the very least it will help serve as extra motivation to get your finances in order in the new year.

Have You Ever Simplified or Skipped Christmas?

I’d love to hear what you’ve done to ease the financial burden of the holidays. Do you save year-round but still keep it simple like we do? Are you like the shoppers polled in last year’s post-holiday survey who admitted to going into debt for the holidays with no game plan to pay it off? Have you skipped Christmas before or plan to this year?

To me, the holidays just feel different when the focus is not on gifts. Family is so much more important. And all you have to budget for with family is time!

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  1. […] A couple of weeks ago I published a list of 25 Thoughtful Ideas for Handmade Christmas Gifts. Maybe you’re all for a thoughtfully thrifty Christmas, but not so much handmaking it yourself. No worries! Here are 25 more thoughtful gift ideas that will still fit nicely in your budget with no hot glue or needles required on your part! If you’re on a really tight (or nonexistent) budget you might also want to check out these Five Helpful Tips if You Haven’t Budgeted for Christmas. […]

  2. hannahthemaddog

    I am a big Christmas person and I do feel the pressure to spend for my loved ones, especially when I tend to spend for myself on Veteran’s Day and Black Friday sales. I also like giving people multiple, smaller things instead of one, huge expensive item.

    Hannah the Mad Dog

  3. It’s so easy to overspend at Christmas, especially if you haven’t been working towards it earlier in the year. I try to plan what I’m going to get people as early as possible so I can take advantage of any potential sales and put stuff aside. I’ve made things like hampers for people before when I haven’t had as much money to spend on a huge gift x


    1. That’s a great idea!

  4. Lisa's Notebook

    I think it’s so easy to overspend at Christmas, there’s so much pressure to buy, buy, buy. I try to buy througout the year and also give handmade gifts (jam, fruit spirits, self-care packages). Christmas is about friends and family, after all. Some great tips here, thank you! Lisa x

  5. Brilliant post we are cutting way back to make sure we make more memories this year. Making biscuits with my kids for family instead of in needed gifts.

  6. goatdogsimple

    You’re right! Gathering with friends and family is the most important part of the holidays– not the gifts. I buy my kids and nephews gifts and bake for a few of my family members. I enjoy sharing a little something with my family and it never feels like a burden. It’s sad to allow a beautiful time of year to thwart our budgeting efforts. I wouldn’t want anyone to overspend for me. Thanks for a good read.

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad more people feel that way!

    2. My only tip for cutting g back at Xmas is to only buy and make gifts for your partner and children, if you have them. Otherwise the gift giving can get out of hand.

      Although my partner and I need to cut back on the amount we spend on food for just the 3 days over Xmas. It’s more than I spend on myself for a month on food

  7. lporter18

    Holidays are not worth going in debt. That’s not the real meaning. Instead, holidays should be used to enjoy family time and share a wonderful meal. Gift giving is optional, but not necessary. Personally, I like to take advantage of sales and only buy what we need. Peace and blessings!

    1. That is a great approach! We don’t need much this year thankfully!

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