The average summer vacation costs $1,200, according to CNN Money. A recent Gallop poll discovered that the average spent on Christmas is $830 with 30% of shoppers intending on spending over $1,000. How on earth are people supposed to pay for these pricey transactions like vacations and holidays without debt?
One way to help prevent such a setback is to run the numbers like I’ve done in the estimates above. Could you imagine going at least $2,000 into debt each year just for holidays and travel?
What if, instead, you made a pact with yourself and your family only to use money that you’ve saved for the occasion?
It would take a plan. Let’s unpack that one now.
How to Pay for Vacations and Holidays Without Debt
The primary tool that will be your strongest ally in all this is your mind. If you can change your mindset to do the following, you’re well on your way to living a life with less debt:
Don’t keep up with the Joneses. They’re probably up to their eyeballs in debt.
My husband and I drive around with our children looking at Christmas lights every year. One year, I took him to a wealthy neighborhood filled with massive homes on manicured lawns. Each house was adorned with elegant crystal-like decorations with a massive tree in their grand living room.
You get the picture.
When I was young, I used to think of that neighborhood as the richest part of town. I used to think, “These are the people who figured it out. They have it made.” Now that I’ve tasted debt and scratched my way back out, I look differently at shiny cars and grand houses. Perhaps these people did save up for every penny and are doing great. But, debt is so accommodating that they really could owe money on every item they own, right down to their shoes.
Don’t assume people driving shiny cars “have it made.” You may be craving a lifestyle they can’t afford, either.
Automate a year-long savings plan.
Holidays and vacations are not surprises. If you can open a Christmas Club account at your bank or open a savings and drop $50 in it every payday, you’ll be so far ahead of the game when it’s time to travel or shop. We don’t even put that much away and it forces us to be more frugal with our holiday shopping. Which brings me to my next suggestion to save up for vacations and holidays without debt.
Be intentional about fewer presents.
When I first heard the 4-gift idea for Christmas, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that for our kids. Then I realized my alternative was to “buy them whatever” which is a terrific recipe for not being intentional and for breaking the budget. The 4-gift idea is to buy them only four presents in the following categories:
- Something they want
- Something they need
- Something they wear
- Something they read
I’ve never been more intentional with my gift giving than I was that year. Turns out, the item my daughter “wanted” was the least expensive gift I bought. But, it’s something she still uses every week.
So, the lesson this taught me was that my kids don’t need gobs of presents. They don’t need expensive presents. What makes them feel loved is the intention behind the giving.
You don’t have to spend $830 on Christmas this year, or any other holidays.
If, however, you do want to spend more on a big trip or nice presents (and that’s certainly your prerogative), then save early and do what you can to avoid debt. I’ve tried this both ways and can assure you that the memories are sweeter when debt doesn’t linger behind them.
For further study into this topic of debt free living, I suggest you pick up a copy of “Debt-Proof Your Christmas: Celebrating the Holidays without Breaking the Bank” by Mary Hunt. It’s filled with lots of ideas for saving money during the holidays and not paying for them later.
Do you agree with the idea of having vacations and holidays without debt? Share your thoughts below!
Image Credit: Leo Rivas-Micoud (UnSplash)
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