Surviving the Holidays Without Derailing Your Debt-Free Plan

November 11, 2016

Surviving the Holidays Without Derailing Your Debt-Free Plan

Depending on when you started dumping your debt and where you are in your journey, the holidays may pose a potential stumbling block for you—but only if you allow it.

You may be several months into paying down your debt, and you’ve gained some serious momentum, but now you fear Christmas will thwart your progress.

Or perhaps you just recently started, have yet to see the results you’re hoping for, and with the impending Holidays, it’s starting to look like this whole paying-off-debt-thing just is not going to work.

Instead of giving up or giving in, make a plan. Decide that the holidays will not throw you off your path to debt freedom and that you will not just “survive” the holidays this year, but you will enjoy them and embrace them WHILE you make progress on your goals. Here’s how.

Review Your Why

It all goes back to the “why.” In fact, your debt-free journey started with a why. There was a reason you went from content “payment-maker” to committed “debt-destroyer.” To survive the holidays without doing damage to your debt-free journey, go back to your why.

Why are you getting rid of the debt in the first place? What goals are you trying to achieve? What are you hoping will be different once the debt is gone? Reminding yourself of the answers to these questions should refresh the reasons you are on your journey.

Keep your why at the forefront of your mind, and you will be able to resist the temptation to make any decisions that will negatively impact the progress you are making in paying down your debt.

Decide the Holidays Will Be Different

If Christmas and the holiday season have always been a time for you to go a little crazy, then you will need to consciously decide that this year will be different.

Realistically, you cannot have the expectation of being able to spend exactly like you used to and still accomplish your goal of paying off your debt. One of the two is going to have to give. However, making progress in getting rid of your debt and having an enjoyable Christmas are not mutually exclusive.

You can achieve both by thinking and doing things differently and creatively. Seek alternatives to the spending you are used to doing around the holidays. You might even consider not buying gifts at all. These 51 Tips to Have a Frugal Christmas will give you some creative ideas.

Share Your Decision with Others

One of the best ways to meet a goal—any goal—is to share it with others. There is accountability in being open about what you are working on or trying to achieve. You might have already shared your debt-free journey with others.

Likewise, let others know, especially those to whom you are close, that this holiday season is going to look different for you. If you keep your decision in your head, you will likely give in to opportunities to spend beyond what you plan to.

But, if you are open with your decision to approach the holidays significantly different this year, you accomplish two things: managing the expectations of your friends and family, AND letting them into your plan so they can hold you accountable.

Remove Distractions

To help you reach your goal of sticking to your debt payoff plan during the holidays, identify and remove potential distractions that may tempt you to do otherwise.

Do you get daily emails from your favorite stores beckoning you to buy? Unsubscribe! Do you have catalogs lying around your house convincing you that you need to replace all your dinnerware for this Thanksgiving to be special? Toss them!

Eliminate any distractions that might cause you to cave. If you usually pass the mall on your way to work, maybe you need to find a different route temporarily. If a friend or relative is not understanding or respectful of your choice to spend less this year, consider reducing your contact for a little while.

Do whatever it takes to keep you disciplined and focused on your goal.

Remember Christmas Is on the Calendar Next Year

We sometimes lose our minds and act as if Christmas is the only time of year to give and get things. Newsflash: It’s not! And guess what? Christmas is already scheduled for next year. And the year after that. This year is not the be-all and end-all of Christmases.

Choosing to approach the holidays in a way that keeps your debt-free journey intact does not mean that every holiday season will look that way. One day you will be out of debt, and your Christmases can look any way you want at that time.

If you want that day to come sooner, then let that guide how you approach this holiday season.

Related Reading: 3 Steps to Planning Your Christmas Spending

Remember the holidays are supposed to bring joy, not stress. Before you throw in the towel or press “pause” on your journey, take a moment to take stock of and celebrate the progress you’ve made so far.

Take a look at the path ahead of you and if it seems challenging and lengthy, remind yourself that you will be making it even more difficult and longer by making poor decisions during the holiday season.

Maintain focus by keeping your eyes on your goal and reminding yourself why you decided to pay off your debt in the first place!

Are you afraid the holidays are going to derail your debt-free plan?

Do the holidays pose a threat to your debt-free journey? You can have a good Christmas and still pay off debt, save money, and be frugal.