How to Shop for the Holidays Without a Credit Card

How to Shop for the Holidays Without a Credit Card
Learn about shopping for the holidays without a credit card
See how to shop for the holidays with a credit card

While the holiday season can be an exciting time to reconnect with family and friends, it can also be stressful for many. In fact, people worry about money during the holidays more than any other time of the year. If your credit card is maxed out, or you’re trying to pay off debts, making it through the holidays can be even more challenging. However, if you’re willing to put a little extra effort in, you can definitely take care of your gift-buying without ever pulling the plastic out of your wallet. Here are some great ideas on how to shop for the holidays without a credit card.

Shop Deliberately

Credit cards often make us lazy when it comes to holiday shopping. After all, why think twice about a budget if you can just charge something to your Visa and worry about the balance you’re carrying later on? The buy it and pay later mentality is part of the reason why so many are deeply in credit card debt. If you want to make it through the holidays without a credit card, you’re going to have to be more disciplined.

As the end of the year approaches, you should make a holiday budget, so you know just how much you’d like to spend over the holidays. Since holiday spending normally includes increased dining out, groceries, travel, and gift-giving, you’ll have to factor these expenses into the budget. Once you determine how much you can allocate toward gifts, make a shopping list, and determine how much everything is going to cost. Once you’re armed with a list, you’ll be ready to shop with confidence and keep your credit cards safely stored away.

Carry Cash

The easiest way to survive the holidays without a credit card is to pay for everything with cash. Before going shopping, stop at the bank or the ATM and withdraw the funds you’ll need to make your purchases. Then, simply pay in cash for any purchases you make. Since we’re all so used to whipping out credit cards these days to pay for everything, shopping with cash instead can be a little tricky. This is why it makes so much sense to sit down and make a list of the gifts you intend to buy for people during a shopping session. Then, scout online or through ads in newspapers to find out how much everything will cost. With a little preparation, you’ll be able to have enough cash on hand to buy all the items for people on your shopping list.

Use a Payment Service

One of the best ways to make it through the holidays without a credit card is to use a payment service. Online and mobile payment services that link to your checking account act similarly to credit cards by giving you a cash-free shopping and purchasing option. Additionally, while online and mobile payment apps such as PayPal, Apple Pay, and Venmo were already popular for buying items online, they are increasingly accepted at major brick and mortar retail stores as well. So, instead of reaching for your Mastercard or Visa while you’re Christmas shopping at Target or Best Buy, just reach for your smartphone instead.

Get Thrifty

When it comes to holiday gift shopping, don’t turn up your nose to stores that sell used items or offer inexpensive or deeply discounted merchandise. Thrift stores can be amazing places to shop for the holidays. In many cases, you can find items that are impossible to locate elsewhere, such as vintage clothes or rare, niche books and hard-to-find record albums. Your cash or debit cards will go a long way in thrift stores since you typically pay pennies on the dollar for most items there. You should also consider checking out discount and dollar stores. They’re great places to look for stocking stuffers and other items for people on your list. Thrift and dollar stores usually sell wrapping paper, tape, bows, and other packing materials at a low price, too, so you’ll be able to knock out a bunch of tasks on your holiday shopping list if you go to one.

Make Your Gifts (Or Re-Gift)

Another way you can make it through the holidays without a credit card is to avoid shopping altogether and make your gifts for people on your list. If you’re creative, put your crafting skills to work knitting, designing, or otherwise producing one-of-a-kind personalized gifts for all the people in your life. While it may take some lead-time to prepare these gifts, they’ll undoubtedly be appreciated by family and friends, and they will help you avoid using your credit cards. Alternatively, if you’ve recently received high-quality gifts from others that you aren’t that interested in, you could re-gift those to other people on your list. This can help you save money and keep your home from being cluttered with unwanted items you’ll never use, while you make your friends and family happy over the holidays at the same time.

Leave the Cards in a Drawer

You can survive the holidays without a credit card; in fact, if you follow these tips here, you may even be able to save yourself a little bit of money over the holiday season and eliminate some of your financial stress. So, put the Visa and Mastercard away, and get yourself ready for a holiday season where you don’t add to the balance on any of your credit cards.