Paying for the Holidays Without Racking up Credit Cards

Did you know the average US adult spends over $700 a year on gifts? In addition, we often can’t help ourselves while we’re shopping for others, and we end up also spending money on ourselves while out shopping.  And that’s not even including the hundreds of dollars we spend on wrapping, cards, groceries, decorations, clothes and hairstyling for parties, and the gas, mileage, babysitting, and restaurant expenses it takes to get out and go shopping.

If these expenses were spread out over the year, they would be much easier to absorb, but 65% of consumers admit that they haven’t saved this money prior to shopping for the holidays. This generally results in consumers racking up credit card debt at high interest rates to pay for the holidays, and then scrambling the rest of the year (and often beyond the year) to pay it off.

The good news is that there are other options which won’t leave you with a huge credit card bill and interest payments for years to come, and will allow you to still afford the holiday gifts on your list. Here are some options:

1.  Sock away cash each week in a separate holiday savings account.

You still have time to save enough cash to get through the holidays. If you save $100-$200 each week in a separate account and wait until the end of December to do your shopping, you could save up to $1,000 to purchase all of your gifts, new clothes, decorations, and anything else you need, without incurring interest or racking up debt. Then next year, you could easily drop that down to $20 per week (a much easier amount to manage) and achieve the same result. Learn about Savings Accounts here.

2.  Refinance your auto loan and transfer the savings into your holiday account.

Auto financing rates are very competitive right now, and refinancing your car or truck loan could leave you with several hundred dollars in new-found cash to pay for holiday gifts and expenses through the end of the year. And this is the gift that keeps on giving: you’ll save on your auto loan in the months and years to come, allowing you plenty of extra cash to put aside for next year’s holiday season, or spend on a fun winter vacation.

3.  Sell or consign items you no longer use.

The holiday season is a great time to purge your home of items you no longer use or need, and to help others save on their holiday gifts by purchasing your gently-used items at a steep discount. Websites like,,, and many others allow you to easily post and sell gently-used items safely and securely. You’ll have plenty of time to collect those online payments and put them toward your own holiday spending.

4.  Apply for a short-term holiday loan.

If you need the cash right away for holiday shopping, or booking travel to see family or take a winter vacation, then a short-term holiday loan may be the perfect fit for you. Holiday loans often have much lower interest rates than credit cards, and can be a more budget-friendly alternative. With a loan, you’ll have a set schedule to pay it off completely within one year. This stops the snowball effect of holiday spending leading into long-term debt and crippling interest payments.

The holiday season should be about spending time with family and friends, enjoying traditions, and showing gratitude to the people you care about. They don’t have to be stressful or result in long-term debt and fees that will hold you back in future years. We wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season!