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Being in debt puts a damper on a lot of things.  But the holidays can seem especially hard!

Between feeling obligated to participate in every tradition, event, and gift giving opportunity and the fact that most of your friends seem to take part in every one of those things, it can make the season feel depressing.

Time to reframe that attitude!

The holiday season is the best time to put on your attitude of gratitude!  Christmas should be about so much more than just spending money!

And if you can raise yourself up this time of year, imagine the great things you are setting yourself up for!  A fresh new year with less debt (especially if you have a habit of financing gifts on the old credit card).

And, if you can beat that debt, your future Christmases can be times of less stress.

Doesn’t that sound wonderful??

7 Things You Can Skip This Christmas

Our family put in two Christmases during our #yearofno.  That was a period of time that we were very careful to not spend any extra money.  (Read more about it here.)  Instead, we sent every spare dime we could to pay off our credit card debt.

Here are some of the things we did to help us reach success in our fight against debt!

Get free and cheap Christmas ideas for celebrating the season when you're trying to get out of debt.

Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are always nice.  I especially love to create photo cards and send them to family and friends!

But not only is that time consuming, it can also get expensive.

During our #yearofno, we stopped sending physical cards.  While I love the tradition, we found it easier and free to create a card online.  Then we just sent it to friends and family via email and social media.

Christmas Tree

We used to love hunting the perfect tree and bringing it home to decorate.  The smell of a fresh cut tree really makes the season great!

Then we noticed one of our boys couldn’t stop sneezing and wheezing while it was in the house.  And that was the end of the live trees.

But the next year, when we had already bought an artificial tree the year before on clearance, I was so happy to not have to spend $50 we didn’t really have that time of year!

So look for an affordable artificial tree this year.  Or borrow one from someone!  Many people I know have more than one artificial tree (or they own one, but started buying fresh trees again!).

You’ll be glad to save the expense, and you’ll still have the spirit of the season in your home.

Buying It All!

While traditions at holiday time can be a blessing, the obligations that come with some of those traditions are definitely not.

We often make a long list of people we need to remember during the season.  Things we need to buy to make the family feel special.  Places we have to go.

How many of those things really have to be done?

It’s wonderful to remember everyone in your life at the holiday season.  But that doesn’t have to mean spending money!

Use this list of Inexpensive Christmas Gifts (several of them are free!) to come up with ways to make them feel special without breaking the bank.

Pull back to do only the most important things for your family.  Drop anything that just isn’t in the budget this year.

And if that means a tough conversation with friends and family, do it.  Better to try to make them understand your difficult situation than suffer in silence for…how many more Christmases?

A good #yearofno plan doesn’t have to last forever!  Take a couple of years to get through the debt, and later you’ll be able to afford the extras without feeling guilty.  (And without endangering your retirement!)


I had a grandmother who loved to bake.  Every Christmas, each family would get a plate piled high with dozens of different cookie recipes.  She baked for weeks (and would freeze the cookies so they would still be delicious).

This was such a special part of the season for us.  To this day, my oldest children (who remember her) still call her “the Grandma with the cookies”.  🙂

Baking plays a special role for Christmas for many of us.

This year, don’t feel like you have to do it all.  If you choose to bake cookies as a gift for people, that’s a fine idea!  You can find many ingredients on sale, especially just before Thanksgiving.  And if you want fresh ideas, try some of these Christmas cookie recipes.

You may even enjoy holding a fun cookie exchange instead of a traditional Christmas party!

Otherwise, pull back.  Stick to a couple of family favorites.  Make it easy on yourself, and affordable for your grocery budget.

Gift Exchanges

One thing about the holidays that I actually dread is when someone shows up with a gift that I wasn’t expecting.  If I have nothing to give them back, I feel terrible!

But the truth is, it’s not your responsibility to know the intent of other people.  There are many generous souls who love to give, and they don’t necessarily need a gift in return.  Let it go, and realize that it wasn’t your decision to make.

For families and groups who have always exchanged gifts, why not suggest a fun gift exchange theme game this year?  You might be surprised at how many others join your relief to have fewer gifts to buy.


Seeing adorable Christmas decor at a craft show or lights in the stores makes you want to splurge.  Don’t do it!

In our #yearsofno, we didn’t even buy Christmas decor on clearance in January.  (That was especially tough!)

That doesn’t mean you have to do without.  We were pretty happy with the boxes of decor we’d already collected over the years.

If you need to add extras, Pinterest abounds with choices!

Assuming you already have printer ink, free printables like these spread cheer throughout your home for little to no cost!

A walk in the park (or your own backyard) will give you plenty of materials for these natural Christmas decor ideas.

Depending what crafting material you already own, these projects might cost you little to nothing!


Do movies and music define the season for you?  We enjoy adding to our collection each year.  But you don’t have to spend money to enjoy Christmas media.

Look up shows for free on YouTube, Netflix, or Amazon Prime (if you haven’t cut that out).

Borrow from friends.

Hit the library for free books, movies, and music!  They may even have free events like making a gingerbread house or a Christmas carols evening.

Don’t feel guilty about celebrating Christmas #yearofno style!

Spending a couple of years pulling back on the holidays can make all the difference in having a more comfortable future with your family!

One more way to save…Grab your free printable funny Christmas Tags here!

Funny Christmas Tags

How do you save money at Christmas?