Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

15 Last-Minute Tips to Avoid Holiday Debt

Author: Maurie Backman | December 03, 2021

Word Debt on chalkboard being erased.

Source: Getty Images

1 of 17

Keep debt out of the picture

The holidays may be a much-anticipated time of the year, but they can also be very expensive. And it's not uncommon for consumers to close out the holiday season deep in debt. If you'd rather avoid that fate, here's what to do.

5 Stocks Under $49
Presented by Motley Fool Stock Advisor
We hear it over and over from investors, “I wish I had bought Amazon or Netflix when they were first recommended by The Motley Fool. I’d be sitting on a gold mine!" It's true, but we think these 5 other stocks are screaming buys. And you can buy them now for less than $49 a share! Click here to learn how you can grab a copy of “5 Growth Stocks Under $49” for FREE for a limited time only.

Previous

Next

Person using calculator and notepad in kitchen.

Source: Getty Images

2 of 17

1. Set a budget in advance

Knowing how much you can afford to spend in advance of the holidays will help you avoid taking on too many expenses. See how much money you have at your disposal based on what your savings look like coupled with your incoming paychecks, and then pledge to stick to that limit.

ALSO READ: 73% of Consumers Are Making This Savvy Move During the Holidays

Previous

Next

Person walking six dogs.

Source: Getty Images

3 of 17

2. Boost your income with a side hustle

You may have a lot of obligations during the holidays, in which case boosting your income with a side hustle could really help. That extra money could give you the leeway to buy all of the gifts you need without having to rack up a massive credit card tab you can't pay off right away.

Previous

Next

Person putting sale signs in store window.

Source: Getty Images

4 of 17

3. Get a job at a store you plan to shop at

If you're going to get a side hustle, consider working retail. If there's a store you expect to do a lot of holiday shopping at, you may be eligible for a sweet employee discount.

Previous

Next

Person on laptop is wearing festive sweater with Christmas tree in the background.

Source: Getty Images

5 of 17

4. Order your holiday purchases by priority

You may have gifts to buy, a tree to purchase and decorate, and lights to procure and hang. If your budget doesn't allow for all of those things, decide which are the most important to you and pay for them first.

ALSO READ: 4 Ways I'm Making the Holidays Less Expensive This Year

Previous

Next

Person carrying large stack of Christmas gift boxes

Source: Getty Images

6 of 17

5. Trim your gift list

It's nice to be generous during the holidays. But if you're limited in funds, don't feel compelled to exchange gifts with distant relatives and acquaintances. Instead, narrow down your list to the most important people in your life.

5 Stocks Under $49
Presented by Motley Fool Stock Advisor
We hear it over and over from investors, “I wish I had bought Amazon or Netflix when they were first recommended by The Motley Fool. I’d be sitting on a gold mine!" It's true, but we think these 5 other stocks are screaming buys. And you can buy them now for less than $49 a share! Click here to learn how you can grab a copy of “5 Growth Stocks Under $49” for FREE for a limited time only.

Previous

Next

A close-up of a person's hands knitting.

Source: Getty Images

7 of 17

6. Give homemade gifts

Sometimes, the best gifts are those that come from the heart. You can save money and lower your risk of debt if you give out homemade gifts instead of store-bought ones that are more expensive.

Previous

Next

ATM cash withdrawal of hundred dollar bills.

Source: Getty Images

8 of 17

7. Pay in cash if you don't trust yourself with credit cards

If you have a history of overspending on credit cards, you may want to stick to cash this holiday season. Doing so could make it easier to adhere to the budget you set.

ALSO READ: 3 Ways to Cut Down on Credit Card Use Without Closing Your Accounts

Previous

Next

Person who uses wheelchair is holding credit card and looking at laptop.

Source: Getty Images

9 of 17

8. Redeem your credit card rewards

If you're sitting on credit card rewards, now may be a good time to use them. If you can convert those rewards to money off of your next retail purchase, you’ll be less likely to land in debt.

Previous

Next

Person lying on floor is looking at credit card while using laptop.

Source: Getty Images

10 of 17

9. Apply for a credit card with a sign-up bonus

Many credit cards offer sign-up bonuses that give you a lump sum of cash for meeting a certain spending threshold. It pays to see if you qualify for any of those offers, especially if you know you can meet their spending requirements easily due to your anticipated holiday expenses.

Previous

Next

Person taking notes while using laptop.

Source: Getty Images

11 of 17

10. Research larger purchases before buying them

If you're buying big-ticket items as holiday gifts, spend some time comparison shopping. The less each purchase costs you, the less likely you'll be to wind up with debt.

5 Stocks Under $49
Presented by Motley Fool Stock Advisor
We hear it over and over from investors, “I wish I had bought Amazon or Netflix when they were first recommended by The Motley Fool. I’d be sitting on a gold mine!" It's true, but we think these 5 other stocks are screaming buys. And you can buy them now for less than $49 a share! Click here to learn how you can grab a copy of “5 Growth Stocks Under $49” for FREE for a limited time only.

Previous

Next

Clock showing the year 2021 turning over to 2022 at midnight.

Source: Getty Images

12 of 17

11. Put off nonholiday purchases until January

You may have your eye on certain items you'd like to snag in conjunction with holiday sales. But if buying them will put you over budget, hold off. Not only might that help you avoid debt, but you might snag a better deal once the new year rolls around.

ALSO READ: 45% of Consumers Will Use 'Buy Now, Pay Later' Services for Holiday Purchases. Is That a Good Thing?

Previous

Next

Adults and children smiling on a drive.

Source: Getty Images

13 of 17

12. Travel by car rather than by air

If you'll be traveling to see loved ones during the holidays, hitting the road could prove less expensive than paying exorbitant airfare -- especially if there are multiple people in your party. And that way, you won't get hit with fees for things like checked bags.

Previous

Next

Row of houses in Arkansas.

Source: Getty Images

14 of 17

13. Rent a private home instead of staying at a hotel

If you'll need lodging at your holiday destination, you could save a decent chunk of money by renting a private home rather than booking a hotel. And you may find that a private home is also more comfortable than a cramped room.

Previous

Next

Person stirring a pot on a stove.

Source: Getty Images

15 of 17

14. Don't cater the meals you're hosting

If you'll be hosting family for a holiday meal, resist the urge to have it catered. Doing so will cost a lot more money than preparing that food yourself. If you're not the most experienced cook, keep the menu simple and don't be shy about asking guests to bring side dishes, drinks, or desserts.

ALSO READ: 5 Tips to Stretch Your Money as Everyday Expenses Increase

Previous

Next

A couple snuggled up on the couch watching TV together.

Source: Getty Images

16 of 17

15. Stay in on New Year's Eve

Restaurants and clubs tend to charge a premium on New Year's Eve. And paying up for a single night out could result in a pile of debt you don't want. A better bet? Have a low-key gathering at home -- one that adds minimally to your holiday spending tab.

5 Stocks Under $49
Presented by Motley Fool Stock Advisor
We hear it over and over from investors, “I wish I had bought Amazon or Netflix when they were first recommended by The Motley Fool. I’d be sitting on a gold mine!" It's true, but we think these 5 other stocks are screaming buys. And you can buy them now for less than $49 a share! Click here to learn how you can grab a copy of “5 Growth Stocks Under $49” for FREE for a limited time only.

Previous

Next

Person showing someone something on laptop.

Source: Getty Images

17 of 17

Don't start the new year in debt

The last thing you want is to start off 2022 with a pile of debt hanging over your head. Follow these tips to avoid that scenario -- and the stress that goes with it.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Previous

Next