9 Ways to Avoid Christmas Debt Even If You’re Short on Cash—Plus a GIVEAWAY!

To pull off an all-cash Christmas in the face of a credit-aggressive retail industry will be like holding back the sea unless you arm yourself with a very important tool.



You won’t have to run out and buy this tool because I am absolutely sure you have it already. And you won’t have to go on a whole-house search to find it either. This all-important tool is as close to a magic wand as you will ever get and as powerful as you choose for it to be. It is your attitude.

You can choose a joyful, expectant, can-do attitude with bold determination—an attitude that says, “No matter what, I am not going to spend money I do not have to pay for Christmas. Period.” With that kind of attitude, even the powerful consumer credit and retail industries will be no match for you. You will prevail.

Here are nine simple ideas to get your attitude revved up and your determination switched into high gear!

1. Pantry Survival

More than likely you have enough food in your pantry, cupboards, and freezer to feed your family for at least a week or two. Skip grocery shopping for a couple of weeks between now and Christmas. Eat up what you have already, and stash that grocery money.

2. Eat In

Time is short, consider the extreme approach: No more fast food or restaurants between now and Christmas. Put the money you would have spent on fast food and eating out into your holiday stash.

3. Rethink a Habit

We could all cut back or eliminate a few spending habits with little lasting impact on our lives. You don’t have to eliminate the daily coffees, vending machine snacks, manicures, and pedicures altogether—just for the next six weeks. Consciously put that money instead into your holiday stash. Do you really need to eat lunch out everyday? Cut it back to two days, brown bag the other three, and stash that money you don’t spend.

4. Get Free Shipping

When shopping online, avoid paying for shipping. You shouldn’t have to reach a certain spending limit in order to do that. Amazon’s Prime Shipping is a great example and here’s how you can become a short-term Prime shopper for free (Amazon Prime long-term is not free.)

Start your free 30-day trial HERE. You will need to set up an account, but provided you use Prime Shipping for only 30-days (you will have access to all of the benefits of Amazon Prime, which you will read about) and then cancel your free trial, it will not cost a cent.

Mark the calendar so you don’t forget to cancel. What a great way to get Free Prime Shipping for the holidays. It’s legal, ethical and Amazon encourages you to use its Free Trial option.

Note: You may have read recently that Amazon has announced free shipping for everyone. However, that does not include all the benefits of Amazon Prime (there are hundreds), most notably 2-day Prime shipping, music, movies, etc., etc. Could take days and days with the basic free shipping to get your purchases. You’ll love Amazon Prime with 2-day shipping for the 30-days free trial, then you can cancel and go for the lower quality free shipping.

RELATED: How to Shop with CASH at Amazon

5. Get Your Cash Back

Thousands of online stores, including Amazon and Walmart, participate in Ebates cash back. The way it works is simple. And it’s amazing how quickly the cash can grows in your Ebates account because even the smallest amounts all add up.

But the best part is how you get your cash back in the form of a check in your U.S. mailbox—not store credit, not a gift card or certificate. Hard, cold, cash once you deposit or cash that check.  

I’ll admit I was skeptical. But no more. I’ve received three checks so far and I consider it money I didn’t have to spend, so it goes straight into savings. You can create your Ebates account here. It’s free and totally simple. As long as you’re shopping online anyway, you might as well get some of your cash back. Right?

6. Forgotten Gift Cards

Pool all family members’ forgotten/neglected Gift Cards now languishing in the bottom of drawers, purses, and wallets. Add them to the holiday stash.

7. Make a Gift Rule

My readers over the years have shared their families’ gift rules that keep gift-giving in perspective and their holiday budget’s out of the red. One is the 3-Gift Rule: Each child in the family receives three gifts, in keeping with the three gifts brought to the Christ child by the Magi. Another, quite popular in past years, is the 4-Gift Rule for the kiddos: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. 

8. Nothing New

This may, at first, sound extreme, but stay with me. I’ve received numerous letters and reports from my readers, messages that are brimming with joy and glowing holiday success. These folks have experienced a “nothing new” Christmas.

The rule is simple: Nothing new. Gifts they exchange must be previously owned, gently used—acquired from garage sales, thrift stores or even the attic. The possibilities are endless and bring a completely new dimension to the gentle art of gift-giving—and shopping!

9. Homemade Gifts

For me, homemade gifts are the best. I love to make gifts, so when I receive something that someone I love made just for me, I receive it knowing the time and effort that went into it. Homemade takes time, while typically slashing costs.

There you go … nine ways to get your attitude toned, fit and ready to go!

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon affiliated sites. 

Debt-Proof Your Christmas Giveaway

Today we are giving away two autographed copies of Mary’s book, Debt-Proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays without Breaking the Bank! This is a 24-hour Contest. You need to enter right now!

How to Enter

To enter this contest, leave a comment below—anything from “Hi” to your own great idea for how to stay out of debt this Christmas, or even the reason you would love to be one of the two winners. Mary loves to read your comments, so bring it on!

How Winners Chosen

We will randomly select two winners at 10:00 am Pacific Time on Tues, Nov. 13, 2018.

How Winners Notified

We will REPLY to the two winners’ comments below with instructions for how to receive your prize, which means you need to check back to this page tomorrow to see if you won. Once we have your mailing information, your autographed book will go into the mail, pronto!

Good luck, everyone!

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  1. Johnna Richardson Matthews
    Johnna Richardson Matthews says:

    Love all of the great advice each week! My daughter and I love to thrift shop so I’m thinking of offering up the used gift idea to extended family!

      • Colleen Sturma Reynolds
        Colleen Sturma Reynolds says:

        I have scrolled for days trying to find the add a comment box. I have had no luck…therefore I am adding it here while I continue to look. I love you and all of your great advice. FYI–after reading your article about coinstar and amazon gift cards I went to coinstar to check it out. Their take is now 11.9%!!! Amazon gift card is a steal at that rate!! Thanks for this awesome tip.

  2. Dorothea Giordano
    Dorothea Giordano says:

    Last year we drew names for filling stockings and for gift-giving, with a limit on how much to spend. Our young adult children loved it. They enjoyed purchasing one nice gift rather than scratching their heads to figure out how to give everyone a gift on limited budgets. Stocking gifts were nicer, too.

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