Have You Ever Had A DEBT FREE Christmas, And Will You Accept My Challenge?

An ‘Official’ Enemy Of Debt Challenge – Can You Have A Debt Free Christmas In 2009?

You might think that a debt free Christmas is not possible, but it is!  Very possible!  You just have to think and behave differently with your money.

A DEBT FREE DARE - Christmas 2009

With Christmas a little less than five months away, it’s time to start planning.  Actually, the best time to start is around February in order to decrease “wallet shock”.  (When you fund Christmas all in one month) We’ve all experienced it.  It’s when we realize in the 11th hour Christmas is upon us.  Usually it happens after Thanksgiving, which is precisely why Black Friday is so successful.  Of course we can justify it, (or can we?) because of the huge savings we get on that bright and glorious day in November.  People actually camp out at stores, and sleep in little tents  overnight, in order to buy something that was probably marked way up before it is marked way down.

I happen to think that December is the most expensive time to shop, not to mention the most annoying.  Crowds of people ready to cut off your face, at the chance of buying the last “must have”, over-priced, shiny new gadget using their little plastic companion. Maybe that explains it. All this time I thought it was the immature response of an extreme consumer, but maybe it really just boils down to this.  These people are angry because they are running up debt that won’t statistically be paid off until July or August of the following year.  I’d be mad too!

A real plan stretches out that financial expense over many months as opposed to just one.  It also keeps you from going into more debt.  If you follow a plan there is no need to spend massive amounts of money all at once.  Instead of spending $1,000 (<~~ Way too much, if you ask me.  I think more focus should be placed on the time spent together as a family to celebrate a wonderful day, than on size or cost of the gifts, but that’s just me.) all in December, you would spend $100 a month, while still being ready to negotiate with your cash on black Friday, to get EVEN BIGGER deals!

Try to start saving now to enjoy the DEBT FREE Christmas you deserve! Make it your goal right here, right now, NOT to go into more debt this Christmas!  Come on, you can do it!  Make up for this years broken New Year’s resolution by doing something that you didn’t plan to do.  Think of the motivation and adrenaline rush you will get by rolling past Christmas without going into debt!  Then you would be pumped enough to make a DEBT FREE Financial Resolution!

I Dare You To Have A DEBT FREE Christmas In 2009!  Are You Up For The Challenge? Want to take it to the next level?

Your Debt Free Financial Resolution

Are you sick and tired of living paycheck to paycheck?  Are you stressed about having debt in your life.  End it now and start living better?  You owe it to yourself to give it a try.

Here’s The List:
(Check them off as you go, and add some financial goals to the list if you like.)

  1. Fund Christmas DEBT FREE. (NO DEBT of any kind!)
  2. Read The Total Money Makeover.
  3. Start Your Total Money Makeover.
  4. I will borrow ZERO dollars in 2010.
  5. Stick to a budget.
  6. I will SAVE $         . in 2010!
  7. I will PAY OFF $         . of my debt in 2010!
  8. I will tell two friends about Enemy Of Debt! :D
  9. Start your Debt Free Financial Resolution checklist for 2011!

Can You Do It? I TRIPLE DOG DARE YOU!

I know you can!  The way I see it you have NOTHING to lose.  When you complete the DEBT FREE DARE you will taste what debt free feels like, and likely want to continue with your DEBT FREE Financial Resolution! The best part about this resolution is you don’t have to wait until the first of each year.  You can start it anytime you like.  Why wait, do it NOW!

About Brad Chaffee

57 Responses to “Have You Ever Had A DEBT FREE Christmas, And Will You Accept My Challenge?”

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  1. I actually DID have a debt free christmas last year. (My first ever)…but this win is sullied by the fact that my lady was on vacation in Hawaii, so I went extremely light buying anything for her. She’s usually the most expensive.

  2. Leigh says:

    Count me in! I’m a fellow DR fan. I’m tnleigh on TMMO forums. I actually started sinking funds for the first time ever this year, including a sinking fund for Christmas. I am very much looking forward to having my first DEBT FREE Christmas ever!

  3. Leigh says:

    forgot to add that I’m linking to this post on my blog – great challenge idea.

  4. Jeff says:

    Last year was my first Christmas without debt. It feels so nice to watch the family open gifts and know that they were paid for with CASH. It also gave me great satisfaction to know that I was WEIRD and come January I wasn’t going to experience debtor’s remorse. Good luck to all that have a debt free 2009 Christmas.

  5. The Wife and I have had debt free Christmases for the last three years now. We set up a Christmas account with out bank and fund it throughout the year. This year we are looking at reducing things even further by being creative with our gift giving.

    Hope it works out of you.

  6. Sharon says:

    Love the idea! In fact, I had my FIRST debt free Christmas last year, and I intend on doing it again. I got very creative with extended family and friends (we had a gift exchange on Christmas Eve with all of my friends and their kids…you only had to bring one gift valued at $10.00…that saved a HUGE amount of money and everyone LOVED it!) This year I will do the same…

  7. Peacebug says:

    I love debt free Christmas. We have money automatically transferred from checking to the Christmas saving account and I love it. If you think about it, starting now and spreading it out over five months is actually kinda like reverse debt, as opposed to starting in December and looking FORWARD to five months of payments (oh goody! Not so much…)

  8. Dad says:

    I completed this challenge last year and will be doing it from now on!!! Awesome feeling knowing that all the presents that are being opened are PAID for! :) Good luck everyone!

  9. Brad Chaffee says:

    Wow, it is so nice to see so many people excited about a debt free Christmas! Like most of you, we did not have our first debt free Christmas until last year. I even remember the Christmas before we started our Total Money Makeover in 2007, (we planned to start it on January 1st, 2008) going out and purposefully buying as much Christmas on the credit as we could. Yes I had a very stupid moment. It was like I needed to do it “one last time” or something, as if we would never have a good Christmas after. LOL The great thing was that even though we were stupid that year, we knew we would never be borrowing again after January 1, 2008. Looking back it is easy to say what was I thinking to allow myself to splurge knowingly on credit that final time?

    Christmas 2008 was a different story all together. It was the first debt free Christmas ever and we even celebrated it by buying glass ornaments and filling them with our cut up credit cards from bondage past. I even supplied glass ornaments for free to both my FPU classes that cut up their credit cards in class. It has become our favorite ornament ever and we proudly and purposefully take time to reflect of the importance of the decision to become debt free! What a milestone!!

    Good luck everyone! DEBT FREE IS THE WAY TO BE!

  10. Danielle says:

    Great idea! Husband and I will totally take the Debt Free Christmas Challenge! We’ve never really gone “all out” for Christmas and haven’t ever put it on credit cards, but this year we’ll actually be DEBT FREE come Christmas time so it will be important to remind us to stay that way. =) I also like the idea of setting a goal NOW of what to save next year. Great idea! I’m going to cut and paste on my blog and link to yours, if you don’t mind.

    Thanks!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Danielle- Right on! A DEBT FREE Christmas is a GREAT Christmas! Congratulations on becoming debt free this year too. We hope to be debt free by the end of October and so we will share our first debt free Christmas ever right along with you. (we funded Christmas without debt last year but will actually be debt free this year! Just saying it again it makes me even more excited!) :D

      Yes you absolutely can share this with your readers. I appreciate the link love btw!

  11. Moneyfunk says:

    Great minds think alike. I was just starting to put a post together about Frugal Christmas gift ideas (I mean really frugal, but nice – not cheap). I will definitely join the bandwagon for a debt free Christmas. Our family is in the midst of paying off 4 CCs by December…so we really don’t have a choice. I am with you… its more about spending time with family and friends. The kids are going to prove a challenge.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Great minds indeed! :D I can’t wait to read your post. I have admit I have a soft spot for the kiddos, but other than that I prefer heart-filled gifts and time together. (I so enjoy the moment of excitement during the opening ceremony…LOL It is priceless!) We usually do not go hog wild anymore but have been known to spend up to $1,000 (on credit) before Dave Ramsey kicked us in the rear! LOL

  12. Ashley says:

    Love the challenge! I’ve had debt free Christmases in the past and loved it. In more recent years, I’ve been busier and have fell victim to waiting until the last minute and rushing out to buy people a bunch of overpriced stuff I know they probably won’t use and being in debt because of it. I’m so inspired to do better!

  13. We always save our Christmas Cash every year in a Christmas Club account at the bank. The CD doesn’t much of an interest rate but at least we’re saving and not digging a deeper hole.
    On the other had I don’t always ask for much at Christmas sometimes it’s just the joy being together with family and friends.

  14. Lyddzz says:

    I’m soooo in!!!! =] last year I actually did all cash purchases but the husband decided last minute that his parents and my mom have plasma television … wth?? oh yes I pouted and did all the deranged wife-spill… no luck… so he ended up using credit…. still paying for this impulsive buy as we speak…
    ps: so lovey this blog =D

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      @Lyddzz – That’s great to hear, all except for the husband buying on credit part. LOL I am glad you are in and hope that you can get those impulse purchases paid off in a hurry.

      P.S. I am so happy that you lovey this blog! :D

  15. Jim Hahn says:

    Count me in. I only have one debt (besides the mortgage) and it’s going away slowly but surely. Looking forward to a profitable 2010.

  16. J. Money says:

    I like it bro! Way to get people excited and thinkin’ about this stuff – your blog is taking off :)

  17. Kellie S says:

    Brad – As you know, I’m always up for a challenge. I see the finshline already. I’ve got my Christmas account and it’s almost to my goal. Let’s just say it’s going to be a nice and “peaceful” Christmas. Keep ‘em coming EOD!!

  18. Money Mama says:

    This is the thing that cracks me up about people; we all know when Christmas is coming and we all know that we spend so much money and all the stress that comes along with it but no one does anything about it.

    I think is was about 6 years ago when I opened a new checking account with a credit union and they told me about their Christmas Program. You open an account and they automatically transfer what ever amount into an account that is frozen until October. October comes and they give you your Christmas money. Since my son’s birthday is in October I would add extra money to pay for his birthday party. It was the best thing I have ever done.

    It is such a great challenge and so worth not having the stress that comes with the Christmas season.

  19. Shawanda says:

    Brad – I’m glad you’re encouraging people to start planning early. I usually get a lot of flack for what I’m about to say, but it saves me a ton of money.

    I don’t buy Christmas gifts.

    If I had children then I probably would, but my family and friends already know my position.

    To me, it’s just a waste of my time and money. Besides, the wise men gave gifts to baby Jesus. If He is truly the reason for the season, then why not do something or give something to someone who’s actually suffering?

    I don’t have a problem with other people buying Christmas gifts as long as they can afford it. An excellent way to ensure that happens is to do exactly what you’re suggesting. Plan.

  20. Money Funk says:

    Here is the start of my Frugal Christmas Gifts List with a twist (you can personalize them!).

  21. I accept the challenge!

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Thanks to everyone who I may not have responded to yesterday. You guys were keeping me busy for sure and it was hard to keep up. :D

      Kellie- WOOHOOOO! I knew you would enjoy this challenge. You are working hard on your plan and it shows. Congratulations on being prepared for Christmas already, that rocks!

      Tracey- Welcome aboard! :D

      I will be posting an article once a month to check on everyone’s progress! Good luck everyone!!

  22. SS4BC says:

    Absolutely! I’m all about a Debt-free Christmas!

  23. Bucksome says:

    As a recent Financial Peace University graduate, I’m up to it and accept your challenge.

    I’m looking forward to your monthly check-in on this commitment.

  24. Brad Chaffee says:

    SS4BC and Bucksome – Thanks for accepting my challenge and I look forward to putting together my plan and posting for all to see!

  25. Jason Kouri says:

    I accept your challenge! Christmas 2007 was a debt free Christmas and was incredible. My awesome wife is so on top of things that she used the money that was left over from the Christmas savings and waited for the after Christmas sales and bought many gifts for Christmas 2008 for dirt cheap. I believe the deep discounts are going to be beyond belief this year for those that have the discipline to wait and plan. A debt free Christmas for us started right after the last Christmas ended because it required us to set a budget and save every month up until then. Additionally, we did and still do 90 plus percent of our Christmas shopping online so as to save the time and money (less impulsive buying). And lately, the sacrificial Christmas has been to take money that we would have spent on ourselves or our children and buy gifts for other less fortunate families. More fun! But this is where I did not plan last Christmas and went into some debt. Nothing will take away the joy of giving faster than going into debt in order to give it away (In my experience anyway!) Hope that may help some readers.

  26. I’m with Shawanda on this. I just don’t see how we turned someone else’s Birthday celebration into a frenzied buying spree that people kill and die for, and go into debt over. It’s crazy, and I participate in a very minimal way with just my sweetheart and one neighbor – that’s it.

    Brad: I’m happy to say that your challenge is no challenge at all for me. I’ve never gone into debt for Christmas, and I can’t think of a more silly reason to do so. Nevertheless, I hope your challenge inspires others to think more reasonably about their participation in this American shopping frenzy.

  27. Alice says:

    I accept the challenge. Since I know I will lose my job at the end of January I will not be buying Christmas gifts this year. I will put $50 into a gift fund all year for birthdays and Christmas next year. I only buy for a couple of people and for a charity each year so my budget consists of 2 b-day gifts, 2 xmas gifts, cards and a gift for an impoverished child each year. Unless I start dating sometime soon, this will remain my budget. Last year and every year prior, gifts were charged on the card. No more! Lets all have a debt free Christmas and a profitable new year!

    Alice

  28. Tina Fortune says:

    No debt for us! I bought 3 laptops (yes debt free) this year and I’m using the rebates and I just received $100 for opening up an account with Chase so it’s extra! Yea Baby! I’m going to blog how this single mom of 3 is going to do it debt free and let you know.

  29. Tina Fortune says:

    Yes, we’re having a Debt Free Christmas!

  30. Julie says:

    For the first time EVER – I suggested we “drew names” , and only bought for kids. To my relief EVERYONE was on board with this, and glad I had suggested it. I want a debt free Christmas, and a debt free future. I am working hard to pay off the debt I have. My 2 goals for 2010 are……to pay off 2 medical bills that have been hanging around for a few years. I am an enemy of debt fan! Thanks for the giveaway! Awesome idea! Merry Christmas!

  31. jenny thorpe says:

    #1 set up college savings plans for children
    #2 roll over old 403Bs into IRA
    #3 max out ROTH

  32. Golda Edwards says:

    I’m all in, Brad!!! Goal #1 is to build the emergency fund to 15k and Goal #2 is to continue to pay down extra on the mortgage continuing to cash flow whatever we need. So far Christmas is all cash and carry…it is fun!!!

    Merry Christmas!!!

  33. Maria says:

    My 2 Debt Resolutions for 2010:

    1. Save and keep (for more than a month or two) a $1000 emergency fund.

    2. Save up $10,000 to put towards our 401(k) loan to pay it off by Jan 2011.

  34. Pam Murphy says:

    One thing good: I never go into debt for Christmas! I buy presents thru-out the year as I see something someone will enjoy and I can afford.

    My two 2010 financial goals are to pay off my credit card, never to run a balance again and to put a definite percentage of each paycheck into savings. I have already set up for a certain percentage of my paycheck to go immediately into savings account.

  35. Bo Palinic says:

    Thanks a lot, Brad, for your inspirational site. It’s inspired me, and I’m sure it’s been inspirational to many others. My two main financial goals for 2010: (1) Pay off and close my last credit card ($5,800); and save at least $18,000 in my emergency fund. Best wishes for the New Year to you and your family. Best, Bo.

  36. Jane says:

    One of our goals is to try and pay off a new furnace we had to have installed this year (carbon monoxide leak…yikes). The other goal is to continue to build our savings account.

  37. Rick says:

    Our two financial goals for 2010:

    1- Reduce our family debt by $12000
    2- Not incur any MORE debt!

  38. David says:

    Brad,
    I DID IT! I had a debt free Christmas… my first in my adult life. On top of that, I also applied almost $800 to my existing credit card debt in December. I know that your challenge to have a debt free Christmas helped me to avoid any backward steps this month and kept me on track for my goal of having my VISA paid off by June 2010. Thanks for the inspiration.
    David in Portland, Oregon

  39. Jenn says:

    For many years now I've kept an Excel file with a page for each year. One column each for Name, gift ideas, what I actually bought, and the cost. After Christmas I copy the names and unused ideas onto a new page as a starting point for the next year. Most times a gift idea not used one year is still relevant the next year (except with kids). This way I'm ready to start picking up things up as I find them during the year on sale. I try to be finished my shopping by October each year simply because I hate shopping but hate shopping with crowds even more.
    Now Christmas shopping is a non-event. Everything is bought early, wrapped at leisure, and paid for painlessly a little at a time over the entire year. The only holiday shopping left to do in December is food and entertaining related. Don't forget to include extra funds for groceries and travel in your budget!

  40. Jeff says:

    I’ve been buying a lot of used books in recent years for Christmas. If you choose only good condition books, your 10 year-old doesn’t know the difference and is thrilled at the mountain of gifts.

    Here is a new peppy 1-minute video I made giving people advice on the responsible use of debit, ATM and credit cards.

    “Card Tricks Revealed: How Not To Burn Money”

  41. Brad, I’ve only just found this thread, which you started a couple of years ago. Thus my comment comes a long time after most of the others.

    Your challenge is a great idea; so many people get into debt at Christmas and, as many of your readers have said, Christmas comes every year; thus it’s not an emergency and certainly not an unforeseen one.

    I’d never thought of it in this “debt-free Christmas” way but my kids and I decided a few years ago that having fun at Christmas did not depend on spending loads of money. We knew that gift buying is a large part of the Christmas budget; in fact when my girls were small their mother and I spent “loadsa money” on their gifts every year. Now that the girls are older (in their 20s) and wiser, they know as well as I do that spending big bucks on gifts is not the way to go.

    So we adopted an idea that I got from my friend Jenny (she was the text editor of my book “Back to the Black: how to become debt-free and stay that way”, so she knows about thrifty living) Her idea: to put a cash limit per person on gift spending.

    That first year, we set a spending limit of £10 (about $15) per person. Guess what? It was such a lot of fun, and produced such a lot of creativity, that the following year we cut the limit to £5 per person: “the £5 challenge”.

    Sometimes we make gifts; or we recycle unwanted gifts from the previous Xmas, which of course counts as zero spend, or we buy from charity shops or the “pound-stores” that have become so widespread through this recession. And the bonus: if you give somebody a gift that they don’t need or don’t want, it doesn’t matter, because it cost peanuts.

    This will be the fifth year of our £5 challenge and I still treasure some of those cheapie gifts that I got three or four years ago!

    For some time my girls have spent Christmas Day with my (ex-)wife and they come to me on the 26th. That’s called Boxing Day here in the UK (and in Canada and Australia too, I believe). So, because they have a second Christmas on Boxing Day, they started calling it “Boxmas”. Then, because of the £5 challenge, it became “Budget Boxmas”. I cook us a great meal (well, we think it’s great anyway) and we sing our favourite songs, play silly games, and have a wonderful time without spending a shedload of cash.

    Your thread has clearly produced a large following of people who want to have a debt-free Christmas; maybe our gift spending limit would be one way to help them achieve it.

    Financial guru Alvin Hall (you probably know of him, as he’s American but he’s high-profile on British TV) is also very aware of the debt problems that can be caused by excessive Christmas gift buying. In a UK TV programme, he interviewed a couple who had a combined income of about £70,000 (over $100,000) but were deep in debt; at the time I think they were about £60,000 “in the red”. He found that part of the problem was that they spent thousands on Christmas gifts every year; not just for family and friends, but even for neighbours too; they’d start buying in October.

    So Hall filmed private interviews with the couple’s sons and asked “what’s the best thing about Christmas?” Their answers included going to church on Christmas Night; Christmas dinner; being with family, singing Christmas carols.

    “So what about all the gifts your mum gives you?”

    “Well, they’re nice too.”

    Then in January he interviewed some of the friends and neighbours who’d received gifts from the generous couple, and asked if they could remember what they’d received. Nobody could remember.

    Needless to say, Alvin filmed those interviews too and played them all back to the heavily-indebted couple. You might call that a low blow, or a cheap shot as I think you say over there in the States, but the message got home. Whether they changed their behaviour long-term, I don’t know; but it surely impressed me.

    Finally: one of my girls is now a qualified doctor and earns a good salary, so she doesn’t really NEED to be thrifty, but that doesn’t matter; she doesn’t want to change what has become a virtuous circle. So for me and my girls the £5 challenge has been the recipe for not only a debt-free Christmas but a fun Christmas too.

    • Brad Chaffee says:

      Post might be old but the concept is still very much alive at least at my house! :D

      Thanks for leaving such a great comment. I like what you and your family has done and I love how the focus is on family rather than who got the best or the most gifts. I really have a problem with what Christmas has become in the states. They’re already talking about Black Friday and November has yet to begin!! It drives me crazy!

      sadly, I think the present buying has become more about the person buying the gift rather than the person receiving the gift. I remember reading an article earlier this year about Mother’s Day that claimed people in one country loved their mothers more because they spent more on them for Mother’s Day. That is just sick if you ask me! I bet the same mindset is alive and well during Christmas. We generally buy for our parents and the kids in the family and never plan to spend thousands on Christmas no matter how wealthy we become down the road.

      Thanks for stopping by! :D

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