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Keeping Your Money Straight During the Holidays

Happy Holidays, everyone!  Whew, where did the time go?!  We’re all probably asking that question, right?  While we’re asking that question, others may be asking, “where did my money go?” by the time the holidays are over.  It’s just something about the holiday season that makes our hearts a little warmer and our purses and wallets open a little wider.  I’m sure at some point, we’ve all spent more than we should during the holidays.  We want to spread holiday cheer and buy gifts for everyone, even though our finances may not be set up to accommodate.  For some, we’ve maxed out credit cards, taken out loans, and skipped monthly payments; all in the name of spreading holiday joy and cheer.  Once the holiday magic disappears, we find ourselves saying, “uh oh”.  If you’re one of those people, no worries.  I have some holiday savings tips that’ll hopefully keep a few coins in your pocket for next year, while still being able to buy those thoughtful gifts for your family and friends.  


  1. Create a holiday budget and stick to it – Figure out how much you wish to spend on anything related to the holidays (i.e. gifts, food, decorations, travel expenses, etc.).  You may want to consider opening a temporary account, that’s specifically for this purpose.  Some banks and credit unions offer Christmas Club accounts, which allow you to make deposits throughout the year and withdraw in time for the holiday season.  Usually, there is a penalty fee for withdrawing early. 
  2. Secret Santa Gift Exchange – If you have a large family (or not), trying to buy for every niece and nephew can get very expensive.  Set a dollar amount for the gift and everyone draws a name and buys just for that person.  
  3. Pay Cash or Use Prepaid Cards – One way to avoid holiday debt is to try and pay cash for everything or use a prepaid card.  Figure out what your holiday expenses will be, take out that amount of money or load that amount onto a prepaid card.  Once it’s been spent, you’re done shopping.  
  4. Get a Seasonal Part-time Job – If you have the time and energy after working your normal 9 to 5, a seasonal part-time job will help bring in the needed funds for your holiday spending.  
  5. Shop Off-Season – If you’re able to plan ahead and buy when items are out of season, you can generally save quite a bit of money.    
  6. Gifting Time – If you’re really short on cash, giving of your time is a great gift; especially to someone who is extremely busy.  The senior community would appreciate it too.  Give the recipient a Christmas card with a message to indicate what type of time you’re gifting and how many hours.  (i.e. a weekend of babysitting, a day of housework or yardwork, etc.)
  7. Handmade Gifts – If you’re a creative, artsy individual, who has a talent for making things or if you’re great at cooking or baking, consider gifting an item you know they’ll enjoy.  Notice the emphasis on the last three words.  😊
  8. The Reason for the Season – Christmas is traditionally a religious holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus.  He was born to die.  It’s not just a time for buying gifts, but a time of joy, peace, and glad tidings.  For me, that is priceless.  


I hope these tips were helpful or at least a reminder for how to navigate your holiday spending moving forward.  Happy savings!!  

Janet Downs| Janet Downs is an instructor with over 20 years of experience, having worked with Fortune 500 companies and non-profit organizations. She volunteers and is a resource for the homeless community and is working towards starting her own non-profit. She’s passionate about mental health and seeks to bring more awareness to the black community. She is active in church ministry, a writer, and loves music, hiking, and travel.


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