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Oh Yay, the Holidays are Coming

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For years, I happily ran from store to store using credit to finance holiday extravaganzas. I bought everything from enough food to feed a hungry army, to a mind-boggling pile of Christmas gifts. Throw in many, many expensive restaurant dinners because I was too exhausted to go home and cook, and you have a good picture of the spending frenzy that ran from pre-Thanksgiving until New Year's Day. 

Last year, I couldn't have used credit if I tried; every card was "maxed out." 

Although it was cash all the way, there was little joy because my mind was so overwhelmed with fear over my huge debt and the daily agonies of trying to figure a way out. I hadn't heard of CareOne yet, and I had no idea how to resolve the problems I had created financially. 

Food, gifts, and decorating were on a much smaller scale and even THAT burdened me because I suddenly felt like a "failure" because I wasn't providing the usual bounty. I didn't realize then that over-spending and over-extending was making me feel important, and that misguided ego trip was dragging me down into financial disaster.

This year, however, I am looking forward to the holidays in a new way. 

Yes, it's strictly cash, and it won't be elaborate, but it will be with joy and thankfulness. JOY, because that stressed out, worried, sleepless person is gone, and THANKFULNESS because now I am a new person, free from the constant turmoil over money. Now I am keeping my focus on achieving my goal to be debt free. 

I am truly blessed because I will have enough money after paying CareOne and my mortgage to celebrate the holidays with the TRUE spirit of joy, giving, and sharing. I'm excited to share what I can, whether it is a gift, a batch of cookies, or a handmade apron. 

My offerings to others will be from my heart, not from the need to impress or build myself up.   

In one of my first blogs, I said that I believe all of us use money for different and unique purposes beyond just paying for the necessities of life. Looking back at some of the things I did with credit cards, I think I used money as a way to gain love and approval, and in doing that, I put my entire future in jeopardy.

I didn't have enough confidence in ME to think that giving of myself would be enough. 

Now that I've examined myself carefully, and charted a new course financially, I feel good about myself, and I hope that no matter how meager or modest my offerings are, people will see that they have come from a heart filled with love.

Money is good, but peace with oneself is better.

Read More Blogs from Julie:

Becoming the Master of my Money on the DMP

Finding Support to Help You Meet Your Financial Goals


Julie Van Wert, Debt Management Plan Customer with CareOne Services, Inc.

Julie Van Wert

I am a Medical Social Worker at a community hospital. I am married and have three wonderful children, and three beautiful grandsons, with another grandbaby on the way. My family also includes a miniature Dachshund named Conrad. I love gardening and spending time outdoors, but I equally love doing home decorating projects. I've been enrolled in the Debt Management Plan for just under a year, and that has been a real "turning point" in my financial life. I hope you will follow along with My Journey out of Debt! Compensated CareOne Debt Relief Services Blogger


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  • It seems that I always start the holiday season off right.  I skip Black Friday (my bed is WAY to comfortable to deal with that nonsense), make my list as to who I'm buying what for.......and then the last week before Christmas arrives and I scramble around trying to get everything done and just throw the budget out the window.    I'm committed to doing better this year.

    "Money is good, but peace with oneself is better. "

    LOVE.  LOVE.  LOVE this quote.  I want to wake up December 26th at peace.

  • Thank you so much, Travis.  We're all in this together, and it's music to my ears to hear that many of us are choosing to skip the mayhem.  I'm getting "wish lists" from loved ones, then picking the most feasible items for them.  I want them to be happy, but I want to remain committed to staying on track.  I know you will do well, I sense your commitment in every comment you write.  blessings to you and Vonnie.

  • Very well said!!  I think many of us overspend during the holidays.  I will also be skipping "Black Friday" as I did it once and it was too much for me to deal with the crowds and fights for an item.  Since I joined CareOne in 2009 the only Christmas gifts were for a family in need, besides the White Elephant gift ($10 or less) that we did with the family!  I have enjoyed the fact that I haven't had to figure out how to catch back up after the holiday was over.  I have to admit the first year was difficult on me, but it became more enjoyable in time.

    This year (now that I am debt free) I asked my children for a list and their response is lets just adopt a family in need.  I am excited that it seems they enjoy doing this more than receiving themselves.  The joy on a family in needs face is the best gift I have ever received.

    It also gives me the opportunity to buy for my children at times that I want rather than feeling obligated because of the day.

    Happy Holidays to you and yours!!

  • WOW! What a wonderful insight. I am going to sit with that myself and try to think about what I use money for. I know the worst money decisions I have made were due to wanting to do things with my mom. I am going to have to really evaluate why I made those choices. As for Christmas,  we have juggled for the last several years but this year we cannot even do that. We sold a few things around the house and that money has been used for our Christmas budget. When it is gone it is gone. There is no more! My son is pretty used to making money at the last minute by doing chores around the house to get money to do his shopping. I warned him but he still spent his allowance on himself and is now starting to panic because he realizes he does not have enough. It has been tempting to find some way to help him out but I would rather he learn this lesson now. I did suggest he check with the neighbors and see if any of them had anything that they would be willing to pay for him to do. I also forbade his sister from giving him money (She spoils him horribly).

  • @Travis - Stocking stuffers do it to me every year. All those little things add up fast. I forget how much I bought and think I do not have enough. The idea of empty stockings on Christmas morning sends me back for "just a few more things". Then we pull it all out in the middle of the night and it is an absurd amount of junk that I would normally never buy. Low quality junk that ends up in the trash and junk food that I normally would never allow. This year I am also committed to doing better. I have organized the stuff so I know exactly how much it is and we are not getting so much.

  • Oh, Kimmer5000, you and I live parallel lives.  LOL.  Stocking stuffers are one of those "last minute items" that can really add up when you scramble just trying to find something to shove in there.  Let's do better together!

  • Kimmer5000, your comment about the "low quality junk that ends up in the trash," just made me roar.  Thank you for that hilarious reminder of how similar we all are.  I can totally identify with you and Travis.  I remember panicking and running to the nearest Rite Aid on Christmas Eve to buy "stocking stuffers" that amounted to stuff no  one probably ever wanted to receive in the first place.  It's MADNESS, and we've all been caught in it.   I'm so happy that we're all on this journey together, AND that we can laugh with each other while we're traveling.

  • We will have to report on how we do. We can do this. No JUNK in the stockings this year! It is emotional blackmail! I am convinced on some level that if those stockings are not overflowing with junk my kids will not feel loved and Christmas will be sad and I will be a horrible mother. This is just NOT TRUE!  I did instruct my husband to buy my favorite lotion (40% off coupon!) and let that be the bulk of my stocking. Seriously - I spent almost $200 on stocking stuffers for 5 people and 2 cats last year. The cats only get cat litter and litter box deodorizer. I do draw the line somewhere! I can tell you the only thing I kept was the fat from the candy I should not have eaten!

  • Great idea Kimmer5000 - how about I write a post for after the holidays on this, and we can all weigh in on how we did?

  • Great idea! I had a discussion with my mother about this today. She said "Oh! We always say that but somehow we always spend too much!" Not this year and NEVER again. I am NOT passing this down to my kids. Now that I have to report I will be that much more motivated to "Just say NO!"

  • I am totally into this with you Kimmer and Travis.  COMMITMENT........................... no stocking junk!  We can do this!!!!!

  • SWEET, this is going to be fun.  I'll write a post about stocking stuffers, and about our challenge.  Then we can all leave comments on how we did with the challenge.  Hopefully we can get some others to participate, and/or offer up their experiences this year!

  • Oh! I have never been more excited to not spend money on junk! Yea!!

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