Every Day

Put Away Those Credit Cards

The biggest shopping season of the year is here. I read a post on Facebook yesterday where a woman stated that the average amount spent per person on Christmas was $1,000. She said she heard it on the Today show. Now I don’t watch the Today show or any other morning show so I don’t know if that was said.

However if it was, I find that hard to believe even if if you added up all Christmas costs- gifts, Christmas cards, decorations, and the holiday meal- that the average American would spend $1,000. per person.

I suppose if you are traveling for the holiday and add in those costs that you might spend $1,000. per person.

Anyhow, I find that number shocking. I buy for 6 people at Christmas plus a few small gifts for the mailman, newspaper woman, and my UPS man. 

I mail out about 30 Christmas cards at the most. We don’t buy any new decorations because we have plenty from other years. Even if we purchased a few new ones each year, they would be purchased at 50- 75% off from the prior year.

I don’t cook the Christmas meal but I will be cooking the traditional Thanksgiving meal for my family this year. So even if I include those costs, I don’t think I would spend $1,000. per person. 

According to what this woman said, I would be spending $6,000. for my sons, DIL’s and grandchildren. Hubby and I do not exchange gifts. We buy whatever we need when we need it all year long. But we would be included in the other costs so that would up it to $8,000. There is no way!

Now I have been known to be wrong more than once in my life. So I have a little notebook that I am going to track every penny we spend on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and see what we spend and what our average per person comes out to. That way, instead of guessing, I will know what the true costs were. I would love if some of you would do the same so that you know exactly what you are spending. Sometime after Christmas I will give you my results and I would love to hear about yours.

I know it is a busy time of year and this gives you one more thing to do. But doing this may benefit you in the long run. You may find out that you are doing just fine on those costs or you may find out that you spending way too much. Some of you may find out that you are running your credit cards up and having to pay interest for months on all of those purchases. Track your costs on your computer or a plain old piece of paper or a little notebook that you carry with you.  

Now let’s get to the title of this post: Put Away Those Credit Cards. If you pay your credit card bills in full every month when they are due, feel free to use your credit cards. If you can afford to pay cash for your Christmas expenses and can afford $1,000. and want to, feel free.

However if you are planning on using your credit cards to pay for Christmas and plan on paying it off over time next year, thing twice about doing that. You may be getting some great sale prices over the season, especially on Good Friday, but those purchases will cost you so much more when you add up the interest you pay. It will also cost you a lot of stress. Is it worth it? I say no, it’s not! You are spending future money that you haven’t earned yet. That is a never a good plan.

I am sure that many of you have purchased on sale  gifts throughout the year and have set them aside. If you did, congrats to you! That is the smart way to Christmas shop. Many of you may have made gifts for your families. Congrats to you! I wish I was so handy.

But one thing that I have made through the years for our families is gift baskets. They can be as expensive as you want or as inexpensive as you want. They are easy and everyone loves gift baskets. As an example one year, I made ice cream baskets: spoons, sundae glasses that I bought at Dollar Tree, gift certificates for an ice cream store, different sprinkles and toppings, etc. Another year, I gave a basket of holiday socks that I purchased at 90% off after each holiday all year long. Another year, I gave a basket of holiday paper napkins and plates that I purchased the same way. There are so many ideas that will keep your costs low. I buy my baskets at garage sales when I see them for less than a $1.00. You shrink wrap them with bags from the dollar store and put on a nice bow. You have a nice gift that is really pretty, inexpensive, and most people would love.

So if you are planning on running up your credit cards, think twice about that. Instead make an inexpensive family gift basket that won’t end up keeping you up at night wondering how you are going to pay for Christmas.

I believe that over the years, Christmas spending has gotten out of control. People are spending way too much money on gifts for people they don’t even want to exchange with. Don’t do that. Let those people know that you will not be exchanging gifts anymore. Spend your money the way you want to not the way others expect you to. Many of those people don’t want to exchange gifts either but are afraid to say anything. So have the courage to stop the cycle. Take control!

Well, I will stop now lest you think that I am Scrooge. But I wanted to make you think a little about what you are spending for the holidays and how you are spending it. Then start 2019 with your Christmas expenses paid for.

10 replies on “Put Away Those Credit Cards”

I have finished shopping. It was all bought on sale during the year. It is just me here, so last year for some reason, I just had chicken breasts for Christmas. It could have been the flu that caused me to do that. But, I was just as happy. I only like the breast anyway, so that cost was cut way down.

As for the cost, I am appalled. Twenty years ago, one of my students spent $900 for her one child. I was aghast. Her nine-year-old child was getting a TV for his room. Now, these people were a couple and one child. Their apartment was basically three rooms and they had three TVs! The living room/kitchen had one and so did each of the two bedrooms. They rented all their furniture because they needed new and paid by the week for the cars. Their life was a mess financially. Basically, they owned nothing except the clothes on their backs. Both worked minimum wage jobs and used credit cards. Their circumstances were sad and suffocating.

So, spending $900 on one child was the norm in their household.

Hi Linda,

That story is just shocking. Thanks for sharing.

Yeah on finishing your shopping. I am way behind this year mainly because I can't make up my mind on what to get. Chicken or even turkey breast would be yummy for Christmas dinner.

Hi Liz, this is Chris. Great post, and lots of good things to think about. When we were younger, there were a few years I took a couple of months to pay off our Christmas, but when the credit card companies changed how they calculate your interest, we quit doing that. It took me a long time to figure out that I needed to set up a sinking fund for Christmas, but it has been many years I have done this now and it makes things so much easier. I will try to do the challenge for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can usually do my Thanksgiving food out of my regular food budget, though. For Christmas, I save $100/mo in my sinking fund for all the expenses, and usually have a little left over. The deal bloggers are posting a lot of good deals now, and it will be a challenge to only get the things we truly need.

I sent you an email this morning, check your spam LOL!

Hi Chris,
Yeah on the sinking fund. Yeah on joining me on tracking our spending for this holiday season. I do the same for Thanksgiving but this year I will write down what I spend for that dinner to include it in my total. I will check my e-mail.

I've been tracking our Xmas spending since 2010 so this is something I am use to doing.
The average spent from 2010-2017 for us is $1235.55 for everything.
My categories are…….
Shipping gifts/mailing Holiday Cards
Gifts for immediate family
Gifts for extended family & friends
Electricity for lights
A Christmas eve meal and show or movie
Christmas travel expenses(lodging, food, gas, booze)

I do use credit cards but they are ALWAYS paid off each billing cycle and I earn c/c points which I in turn use to "buy" gift cards to gift or use to buy presents with.
I can't reiterate enough the Danger of putting your Christmas expenses on plastic! You end up paying dearly for those baubles you bought for gifts and for years into your future income.
Keep your Xmas and it's spending to a level commensurate with your income and to a level you can currently afford.
Great time for this post AD.

Hi Slugmama,

Nice categories. Electricity is a good one especially if you have lights up outside. Same with charity. We gift to a family who truly needs it every Christmas. We just pick someone who we have conversed with on the internet who we truly feel can use a helping hand. We actually helped a couple of people who have frequented my blogs over the years who had job losses.

Kudos on paying off your cc's when they are due without paying interest. We do the same and also earn hundreds of dollars in rebates doing this.

Yup, I felt it was a good time to remind people to take it easy.

I am shocked by that. We don't spend that total. I think we have very nice Christmas's. But I try to shop all year round on good sales and then wrap at Christmas.

Our budget is around $1200 for Christmas, which includes a car rental. We typically use frequent flier miles to cover our flights for the holidays, as it's one of most expensive times to fly.

Our budget includes the following:
-Car rental
-Additional costs with travel (airline fees, etc)
-Food contribution to family parties
-Gifts for our kids & each other
-Gifts for my 2 nephews & my best friend's 2 daughters
-A charitable contribution that is seasonal
-A bonus for our nanny

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