It’s tempting to pull out your credit card to pay for Christmas, but there are other ways. Here are a few

Imagine the bliss you’ll feel sailing into 2021 without a massive credit-card bill nipping at your heels the second or third week of January.

There are alternative ways to pay for the holidays that can keep you out of debt, or from taking on more. Here are a few.

Purge to pay for Christmas

I’m obsessed with purging — Marie Kondo style — and that’s because it feels good to say goodbye to things that are no longer serving me, and to welcome money from the sale of these items into my budget.

I raised $ 200 in cash by selling some older computer equipment and microphone just last week. Next on my list is my wedding veil (purchased second hand, with the original Kleinfeld price tag on it), and as it was such a steal, I hope to get what I paid for it.

Now is the perfect time to work your way through your home, your storage locker and your garage, and sell the things you no longer need. Sites such as Kijiji, eBay and Facebook Marketplace have made these transactions possible for just about anyone who has a cellphone with a camera.

Some of the big-ticket items you may want to consider selling are jewelry, musical instruments, a second car, cellphones, iPads and gift cards that still have balances on them.

If you’re on the fence about whether to sell something, here are two good rules of thumb; if you haven’t really used it in 12 months, or it’s associated with a negative memory (it belonged to your ex-mother-in-law), purge it!

Here are two holiday-purging pro tips; first, take a well-lit picture! The better the picture, the more likely it is your item will sell. Second, if you have quality office furniture you don’t need, list it. There are thousands of people who’ve been forced to work from home during COVID-19 who are desperate for this kind of gear right now.

Whatever money you raise, put it toward your holiday costs.

Skip this week’s groceries and top-up

Dig back — way back — into your fridge and pantry. My guess is your cupboards are not bare, and there’s a variety of dishes you could prepare from what’s already there. The same goes for stocking up. Do you really need to spend that $ 65 this week?

Skipping a week of these expenses could add more than $ 200 to your family’s savings.

Amplify this strategy with a zero-waste mentality where everything in your house gets fully used before replacing it — toothpaste, shampoo, humidifier replacement filters, etc.

Work a bit more

It’s counterintuitive, I know. You probably want to spend more time with your kids this December. But if taking an extra shift or booking just one more appointment with a client would result in a few hundred dollars to offset your holiday costs, do it! This means you need to add your name to the overtime pool, if that’s a thing at your workplace, or get the message out to clients that you have some additional openings this month. Local online job boards are a great place to check for one-off gigs, usually manual labour like lawn maintenance … and the dirtier the job, the more likely it’s still available.

Return and re-gift

If you’ve been doing a bit too much online shopping for yourself and others, or you’ve been sitting on something to return but haven’t gotten around to it, return it asap. Nowadays, most retailers make returns easy via mail, and refunds are prompt.

This also applies to gifts that are arriving for you right now that you don’t need. You could re-gift them or return them for something that would help you directly offset the costs of the holidays.

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File those old benefit claims, and your taxes

Do you need to prepare a claims application for your dental work, prescriptions or contact lenses? Get on it. These out-of-pocket costs can be significant, and you might really need that money now. The same goes for your taxes. In 70 per cent of cases, you’ll be getting a refund.

At the end of the day, why not tone down your holiday budget just in general. You’ll be in good company, with more than one third of Canadians planning to trim back on their usual holiday spending by up to half. The benefits are you’ll avoid unnecessary debt, and that’s a great start way to kick off what is hopefully a much better new year.

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