My Journey out of Debt

Featured customers currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Relief Plan, share journey to become debt-free; hear how they juggle family, finances, and more.

Holidays in September

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School has started, professional football is back, and oh, by the way, Happy Holidays!  The holiday season may be months away, but it's never too early to start making your gift list. 

The first thing I need to do is to decide who is on the list.  There was a time when my wife and I felt the need to give a gift to everyone and anyone in our lives--not only immediate family, but extended family, friends, and neighbors.  We'd even have a number of "generic gifts" for unexpected people we may come into contact with, or may have forgotten.  How embarrassing would it be to admit that you had forgotten someone, or to go to a holiday gathering and have someone unexpected show up that wouldn't have a gift?  Does this sound familiar to anyone?  This year, the gift list will include only the closest of family and friends. 

Next, I need to think about what kind of gifts to purchase for those who made the list.  I've come to the conclusion that buying token gifts is just a waste of time and money.  Also, unless you're under the age of twelve, no "wish list" is required.  Picking a gift from a list, in my opinion, takes all the fun out of giving someone a gift.  If they already know what they're getting, why bother wrapping it?  If someone is important enough in your life that you want to purchase them a gift, you should know their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs.  Through the time you spend with them, you should have a feel for what is currently important in their lives at the moment and be able to easily purchase them a heartfelt gift.  One reason to start early is to give yourself enough time to put your listening ears on and gather gift ideas.  This will prevent you from scrambling for ideas during the month of December. 

Starting early also gives you plenty of time to spread the holiday gift spending across several months.  It gives you the opportunity to search for the best price for gift ideas, or better yet, for items to go on sale.  Plus, you don't have to come up with all the funds to buy all your gifts at once.  This works very well for those of us who just can't seem to put money away for a later purpose without rationalizing spending it sooner on something else. 

Best of all, when you give your gift in December for an idea that you got from your loved one months earlier, I guarantee you will look like a genius!  If you have ideas on how to make your holiday season gift giving easier on the wallet, please share! 

Life Simplification  

Don't Break  Your Holiday  Budget on Wrapping  

Virtual Smart Shopping   

Travis Pizel

Travis is a contributing writer for the My Journey Out of Debt blog and is a very active member of the community forums. Travis is currently enrolled in a CareOne Debt Management Plan and in his posts he shares his personal journey to pay off his debt and the tips he's learned along the way. As a father and husband he provides a unique perspective on balancing debt, finances, and family. Compensated CareOne Blogger.

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  • It has been hard to reign in expenses and make changes in family traditions.  I married into a family that enlarged the circle of gift giving to every new generation.  Great nieces and nephews were coming along and our funds were shrinking.  Finally after a few years of discussion, we started a new tradition of drawing names of everyone 18 or over if they chose to participate.  We still need to define the limit of how far from our immediate family we gift.  Some of the children live so far away we are lucky to see them once every three years.  The gifts just become more of a token and not really a reflection of the holiday spirit.  I am thinking maybe this year, I will write a short note and send a card addressed specifically to each child instead of a gift.  For me, I need to find a way to celebrate the holidays and still maintain control of my budget.

  • Thanks for your comment esampson!  I know exactly what you mean.....I was once told by a teacher in college that, "If you have a question, chances are, you're not the only one."  Well, I found the same applied to "over gifting" during the holiday season.  If you're thinking to yourself that it seems silly to buy token gifts for a ton of people you see once a year, then chances are you're not the only one.  If you break with tradition, and just start sending holiday cards to each family, or suggest name drawing, chances are that many others were thinking the same thing.   The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, thankfulness and fun, not stress!

  • The pieces of paper contained information about last year's spending. The purpose being to help keep this year's holiday spending on budget, and remind me of expenditures that I had not planned for last year, but which would certainly repeat themselves

  • If only I had taken it out of the box immediately when we purchased the tree the first time to ensure it worked and that it was what we really wanted. Or even if we had done that in June before we decided to return it.

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