Home > Debt Articles > Contest or Free Stuff > Giving Away $100. Tell Us Your Plan For Dealing With Holiday Bills.

Giving Away $100. Tell Us Your Plan For Dealing With Holiday Bills.

My friend Matt Jabs (@MattJabs) who writes the excellent site Debt Free Adventure and I were talking the other day and one of us said, “You know what, we should run a contest and give away $100 to one of our readers who can tell us how they are going to deal with holiday bills.” And I guess that’s how good ideas accidentally happen.

Now Matt and I don’t see eye-to-eye on all subjects, but friends don’t have to. But we were curious how our friends and readers of our individual sites that may also share different perspectives are planning to deal with the holiday bills.

I’ve been helping people for so many years now I know that January will bring the holiday bill shock. No matter how much you’ve tried to hold back, the bills are coming, yes they are. Maybe someone you know will be letting out the “I spent what?” retort about mid-January.

But Matt and I would like to know what your plan is for dealing with them? Are you going to pay them off quickly? Maybe you’ll cut back saving and focus on knocking the bills out? Or maybe you planned ahead and you don’t have any post-holiday bills arriving.

So Here’s How You Can Win $100

All you have to do is post a comment below on this article and tell me how you plan to deal with your holiday bills and post a comment on Matt’s post Dealing with Holiday Debt and a $100 Giveaway and tell Matt how you plan to get back on your own debt free adventure by nuking the holiday bills.

I nominated Matt to pick one person that commented on both articles by January 15, 2010 and that lucky person will get $100 via PayPal on January 16, 2010 to spend, anyway they want.

Hey, maybe you’ll use part of it to pay off some bills. Nah, go blow it and have some fun, you deserve to.


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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Shirley Ann Lutz

    Holiday bills just don’t have to be a serious debt problem for anyone!! Set aside an amount of money for Christmas gifts and budget the amount spent on any one gift and stay within that budget. Afterall, we need to realize the reason for the season first, and plan ahead to have some ready cash , on hand, just in case an emergency can happen in the year following the Christmas season that has just passed..The economy today, is in real trouble, and the choice is totally yours, to become a victim of the “money crunch” for another New Year. Welcome to the real world!!!! 

  • Steve & Matt, thank you so much for hosting this giveaway! Like I mentioned in Matt’s post, this is going straight into the vacation fund my wife and I are saving up for a dream trip this year.

    Appreciate the great work you two do! Keep it up.
    .-= Karthik´s last blog ..Panasonic SDR-SW21 Shock & Waterproof Camcorder (Green) $297 =-.

  • And the winner of the $100 Holiday Debt Giveaway Challenge is…………..


    We will be contacting you by email then delivering $100 into your PayPal account today (Saturday, 1/16/2010.)

    Congratulations! Make sure to use the money wisely. ;-)
    .-= Matt Jabs´s last blog ..Credit Financing and Deferred Billing – Kate Answered =-.


    I could sure use the help I’m a fulltime med student and can’t even pay my car registration and my Bank Of America account is -350.00 due to their errors and fees…yikes..help!

  • Ernest S.

    I’ve got a little bit of debt from the holidays, but I am planning to apply a portion of my tax return to it. Also, I’ve been selling a bunch of unwanted presents that I received on eBay/Half, and putting the money toward paying out the holiday debt.

    • Ernest,

      Selling unwanted presents. Good one.



  • sandra jensen

    snowflaking away at my Christmas debt – will throw all $100 at it if I win! thank you!

  • We started our Debt Free Adventure in June 2009 and are sticking to it. We paid cash only for Christmas this year and will continue to do so. We are working on our plan and will be Debt Free by 10-2012. Yay!

  • Sharon

    Wow, I feel like a loser when I read these posts! I have debt, unfortunately due to making 25% less income than I was 3 years ago and having it happen suddenly without warning (salary cut at work that they still haven’t given back). So, the holidays were no different. I spent a lot less than in the past, but still spent some on credit. A temp Christmas job helped me make some higher than normal payments to my CC cards this year though.

    However, I’d like to be out of debt by the end of the year. So:
    I cancelled my gym membership
    I cancelled 2 other monthly things I was a member of
    I am only allowing myself to order lunch 1 day a week
    and I will be starting a part time job in a week of which all the money will go toward paying off these cards.

    I would LIKE to get a 0% interest card to consolidate them all on, but lets see if that will happen this year. But in the meantime, I’m going to try to “snowball” the payoffs. I have 2 cards with small balances that I will pay off shortly, then roll those payments over to the one with the highest interest, then pay off the lowest interest one off last. and only buy stuff that i can buy with cash!!!!

    This $100 would really help! :)

  • Donna Korzun

    We had a tough year in 2009. Lots of medical issues plus some help needed by our youngest son to get started in the real world. Feeling sorry for myself, I spent more than we could afford. Now that the bills are coming in we have taken the following steps:

    1. No spending other than necessities for January
    2. Eat out of the pantry and freezer
    3. Look around for items to sell on E-bay/Craig’s List.

    We will repeat #1 for February if needed. We made the mess and we will take these steps to get out. We are already saving for NEXT Christmas.

  • Jen Dubbs

    Well I was able to pay cash for my 4 nights staying at a cheap hotel for the holidays. So that was good. But then, I had to get a new car battery & starter. I put that on a Discover check with a special low interest rate through April.

  • The holidays were extra rough for me this year, but very blessing. I purchased an engagement ring that was definitely way too much, and I proposed to my now fiance down in St Lucia over the Holidays. We stayed for a week which was my Christmas gift to her this year. I visited several jewelers to make sure I was getting a good deal, but everytime it seemed like I wanted to spend more and more on a gift that wasn’t even for myself. To get out of this mess which is several thousand dollars, I’ve already started withholding $200 of my normal $450-500 that I save each paycheck and putting it into a high interest savings account so I can pay this ring off while it is 0%. My resolution this year is to do no more 0% offers or 90 days same as cash.

  • I have very small debt in January, so it will be paid off hopefully by Feb. The goal is not to have any debt at all.

  • carole

    I was very careful buying Xmas gifts this year. I tried to buy inexpensive but thought filled gifts. Honestly I didn’t feel that anyone really liked my gift.
    Still as you say the bills are coming. I am planning to live like a church mouse this month and maybe next.

  • Stacy

    We have been working on becoming debt free since July. Still working on it! We did pay cash for the Christmas gifts, cut way back and made/built some of them ourselves. I am however still trying to catch up and make ends meet after paying for what we did pay for. It will be great when it happens and I know it will one day. Thanks to sites and helpful tips like yall’s we keep motivated!!

  • I’ve been unemployed since September, so i didn’t incur debt for christmas, not that i ever do. It’s pay as you go.

  • I didn’t get into debt from the holidays! yay!

    I do want to pay off my car loan this year though.
    .-= Mrs. Money´s last blog ..Considering Adoption =-.

    • Mrs. Money,

      Congratulations. It feels awesome not to have a car payment.


  • We did a pretty good job of not going into debt for the holidays. We went over budget a bit, but that will be paid off this week. We’re firmly on the envelope system and almost completely off cards of any type.
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..Bribes vs Rewards =-.

  • Nice discussion!

    This year’s holiday debt will be dealt with in our house as quickly as possible, even if that means going out to eat less, shopping less, etc., until it’s paid.

    Plan for next year:
    Try to get our siblings to agree to a Kris Kringle (aka Secret Santa) system for the children.

    Use gift cards we received this year to buy supplies for handcrafting special gifts for next year. I used Rememberthemilk.com and iCal to put myself on a crafting schedule over the entire year.

    Remember to use our talents. Many people don’t realize their hobbies and talents are useful and possible money-makers. Independent, part-time contracting or “moonlighting” is the new black (as in, “in the black!”). I personally am going to try to take on more writing work and handcraft more baby shower, birthday, and special occasion gifts.

    If I won the $100, part of it would perhaps go toward an Elance.com membership, and the rest toward more supplies for crafting and writing. It would be the gift that would keep on giving!
    .-= Christine Cavalier´s last blog ..Google Missing Golden Opportunity to Win Friends, Families. =-.

    • Hey Purple Car,

      Long time since our Seesmic video days, huh? Glad to see all is well.

      Awesome plan to maximize talents. Sounds like fun.


  • Jeremiah Napier

    I got a few gifts that I wasn’t overly fond of this year, so I am keeping the good one’s, taking back the one’s that just don’t do it for me. I am using that money to pay of the debt I had, plus a little overtime at work. The funny thing is that some people end up paying for their own gifts that way, but hey what better way to use that tacky sweater you got this year.

    • Jeremiah,

      Smart move on the regifting strategy to reduce debt.


  • Harrison Burnham

    I plan on getting out of my debt by being very strict with EVERY single purchase I make…all the little dollars can add up so much if you don’t spend them…I’m keeping track of how much I make, make sure I have enough for major bills (car insurance, payments, etc.) and get that darned credit card paid off as soon as possible!

    • Harrison,

      That’s a great plan. Go for it.


    • Harrison Burnham

      in addition, I plan on paying it off as soon as possible, although the money i spent was able to be spent because I don’t have any out-of-the-ordinary bills commin up for these first few months of the year, allowing me breathing time to get caught up and get out of the red and in the green

  • Shannon Nobles

    No new debt on my end for the holidays- all purchases were paid off! But that does not mean I am not still paying of previous years’ holiday debt! I have a plan of action in place though to conquer all debt within six years, when I’ll make my final student loan/car payments!

    • Shannon,

      Now that day will be one for a great big party.


  • Chris Thorpe

    I’m fortunate in that I don’t have any holiday debt, so I’d plan to pay down an extra $100 on my mortgage since that’s my only remaining debt. My plan is to pay it off in the 7 years or less so I’m debt-free when my oldest daughter is ready to go to college!

  • Renski

    With times as tough as they are, we are thankful to have learn a lesson or two about holiday shopping to limit gifts to the kids. We don’t have any holiday bills (and boy, that’s a nice feeling). Any big ticket items are carefully shopped for and saved for. Good luck to all the folks starting their financial diets as the new year begins.

    • Renski,

      So, it’s just another gift, the lesson of life, and that one is nearly free. Good for you.


  • Shannon Lutz

    Great idea! I don’t have any holiday debt. My family and I did a Chinese auction with a $20 limit for Christmas this year. It was the most fun we have had in years, sitting around laughing at each other and watching my 86 year old grandmother get excited and sing Christmas songs!!

    I do have a goal for this year however. I am jumping in head first with the goal of paying off my car loan this year. My goal is NOT to eat out at all this year, record the $ I save when others ask me to go out and I don’t or I go and don’t order in a small journal, and then use that money to make extra payments on the car loan. I did this for the first time yesterday after church when my friends asked me to go out to eat and watch the Panthers’ game. I went along, took some raw almonds to eat, and did not order. My friend spent $20 so my first day was a success ($20 I will apply to my car loan). Yay!! I know there will be some exceptions when I must eat out so I am allowing myself $120 for the entire year (all cash) to use for those times. Thanks for all you are doing to help people get out of debt.


    Shannon Lutz

  • Well Steve, my wife and I have chosen to go the debt free route every year – and for everything! The only debt we have is our house. However, if we were to win the $100 I think it would be a great opportunity to pass it along to our kids, explain to them what money is, how it can be used, examples of what would be good uses, and ask them to decide how to spend, save or invest it themselves.
    .-= DiscipleshipGuy´s last blog ..Materialism and it’s effect =-.

    • An excellent teachable moment. Good thinking.


  • Kim

    We save each month for Christmas. We have done that for the last 10 years and it has been wonderful to not have to worry about the bills in January. I even came out a head this year and did not spend the whole amount of money budgeted for Christmas. I will put the extra toward our education fund as we have two children attending college. Thanks for the chance to add to that fund.

  • We have a small amount of debt accrued from the holidays which is half paid. We paid for the first half the day before Christmas, and as soon as a check clears I will pay off the rest. (likely Monday.)

    Why the debt? We planned to pay in all cash but had a few expenses pop up, and rather than dip into our mini emergency fund we decided to pay cash for our emergencies, and use a small amount of debt to fund Christmas and then pay it off with “extra” money we usually get around the holidays.

    We kept our EF intact, and still paid our regular snowball amount, so I feel pretty good about the whole thing!

    • Kelly,

      Great job on making it through Christmas without much financial pain.


  • Cindy

    We have been debt free the last few Christmases, thanks to Dave Ramsey’s plan to prepare for Christmas (did you know it’s December 25 AGAIN this year?!) We use the envelope system and save a certain amount of money each month all year. Then at Christmas time, everyone we buy for is assigned an amount that we spend on them. We usually buy for the same people each year (kids, parents, charity, etc) so it makes it easy.

    Our entire budget is based on the envelope system (we use the electronic Mvelopes version), but you can use old fashioned paper envelopes (my mother-in-law still does) or some type of a spreadsheet/log to divide your money into separate areas. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated.

    I love being debt free except for the house. When you start to detach yourself from “stuff”, it becomes much easier to say no and focus on your long term goals.

    • Cindy,

      Being free of money stress is a great gift to give yourself. I agree, the Mvelopes system works well for many people.


  • As I shared on Matt’s site, I don’t recommend taking on additional debt for the holidays, but if you do, my recommendation is to pay it off (along with any other debt) as soon as possible.

    If I won the $100 prize, I would probably use it to buy a new WP Theme for a new website project I’m starting this year.
    .-= Lakita´s last blog ..2009 Year in Review =-.

  • Shirley

    Started shopping early and with cash, so I don’t have any holiday debt. I spread my shopping throughout the year, starting in August. I just paid off my last credit card in December, so I’m going into 2010 with a whole new outlook!

    The $100 would go in my emergency fund.

  • Danielle

    We cut down our gift giving this year – only a few people got gifts so we could stay in budget …. just over $100. Our gift to ourselves — paying off 2 charge cards! We couldn’t have done that if we would have went overboard on the presents! Hopefully our birthday gifts to ourselves will be paying off one of the two student loans.

  • Ken

    We paid $375 for a laptop on a credit card. We plan to pay it off over 3 months from wife’s babysitting income.
    .-= Ken´s last blog ..UK Basketball & Money =-.

    • Ken,

      Isn’t it nice laptops are getting so inexpensive. Maybe she could use the laptop when she babysits and take it as a tax write off. :-)


  • Lorie

    What holiday bills? My husband & I have been married over 7 years & have never had a credit card since we got married. So, there’s never any bills from the holidays. Thank God. We’re on a very tight budget & spend as little as possible each year.

    • Lorie,

      What holiday bills? LOL Good on you.


  • I don’t have any plans for dealing with holiday bills, because I don’t have any. We had an paid-for-with-cash Christmas!

    Now I do have plans for that pesky student loan that’s been hanging around for too many years…
    .-= Lynnae´s last blog ..A Look Back at 2009 =-.

    • Lynnae,

      Now putting that student loan behind you would be an awesome gift to yourself.


  • Used part of the Christmas bonus, only a small part I swear. Rest of it went to my Savings.
    .-= Derek´s last blog ..Gift Card Spending Guide =-.

    • Derek,

      Having a great emergency fund or savings account is an awesome gift to yourself. Congratulations.


  • Wendy Wishon

    My answer to nuking my holiday bills is not creating any to begin with. I had a heart to heart with my family and decided that all of us being out of debt was more important than gifts.
    Thanks for the great blog and happy holidays!

    • Wendy,

      Congratulations for not falling into the debt trap.


  • Mom

    Hi Steve, I have a story to tell about this year’s Christmas holiday spending strategy! There is a website that I patronize daily, The Animal Rescue Site. It is part of the Greater Good Network, which includes sites that help causes like literacy, breast cancer, world hunger, children, etc. Whenever I go to the site I am presented with opportunities to shop for things that are made by local artisans in poor countries. It is called fair trade, and the money spent goes directly to the people in the countries to help them to find a sustainable way of life through their artistic efforts. It is NOT charity. I shopped the Greater Good site throughout the year, following their sales and free offers. I bought many of my gifts for cash on that site at a reduced rate or for FREE!. By doing so, I also helped people less fortunate than I. I also utilized the wonderful information about homemade household products that I found on the Debt Free Adventure site. I made gift boxes for family members that included a selection of those products! Thanks! Debt Free Adventure! I also supported my local economy by following sales and purchasing gifts for cash over the course of the past year. Through my efforts, I was able to stay out of debt this Christmas, I was able to share my personal philosophy of being an ecologically responsible earth dweller, and I was able to support both my local economy and the economies of less privileged people around the world, AND the gifts were beautiful and very much appreciated by family and friends! I had a stress free and very enjoyable Christmas as a result!

    • That’s an awesome idea and I too am a fan of the Greater Good Network. I wish more people would use that resource as well.


  • Rebekah

    Well I was actually good for the holidays…I didn’t buy any gifts, however I was not good prior to the holidays. I have consolidated the debt to a low APR, and I don’t plan to add to it. So my plan is to keep plugging away until it’s payed off.

  • Joan

    Thanks for the giveaway!
    How will we deal with holiday bills? We won’t have any!! We talked it over, decided on an amount to spend, saved a little each month this year, and did not go over that amount when Christmas came! The kids were still thrilled with what they received and we’re happy to not have gone into debt for gifts!

  • Kari

    I put all my gifts on my credit cards to get the rewards since I don’t carry a balance. More than half of the gifts are already paid for and the rest will be paid off before the bills are due in February. I did save up through the second half of the year and will save throughout this year.

    • Kari,

      What do you plan to spend your reward points on?


  • Of the $715 we spent on Christmas gifts this year, just $84 went on a credit card and that was because I was too lazy to get off my bum to get my debit card number when I was ordering something online. That $84 will be paid off right away: we’re working on our debt snowball and saw no point in adding to it for the holidays!
    .-= BudgetsaretheNewBlack´s last blog ..A Reflection on Budgeting. And The Christmas Tally is in! I spent… =-.

    • Jolyn,

      That’s okay. It’s perfectly okay to use a credit card as long as you have a plan on how to pay the debt off when the bill comes due.


  • thisisbeth

    I didn’t add to holiday debt this year! I can continue working on the debt without anything added.

  • Awesome idea guys!

    Here’s what the wifey and I do re: the holidays:

    Whenever a “three-paycheck-month” comes up during the year we take that and save that money on the side. Our budget is for 2 paychecks a month, which leaves this extra money for holiday spending leaving us DEBT FREE!
    .-= Jason @ Redeeming Riches´s last blog ..Should You Wait to Give Until You Have Enough Money? =-.

  • John

    As stated above, none. People at work make fun of me for having a college degree and doing the work that I do. They say things like, “You have a college degree and your doing this. If I had a college degree, I sure wouldn’t be doing this.” If I say anything about my college degree (only because it has something to do with the context of the conversation), they get mad or defensive and for a long period of time will make many derogatory comments and make it sound as if I brag about having a college degree (as if that is supposed to be a secret and I shouldn’t tell anyone) although I only mention it if it has something to do with the context of the conversation. I could say a lot more and I can just imagine what they say behind my back.

  • Jess

    Should you pay off the debt ASAP? I didn’t incur any debt this year for the holidays.
    Should you spread the debt repayment out over the course of the year? I think holiday debt needs to be repaid asap. Why carry it till the end of the next “holiday season”;Needless to say other unexpected expenses could occur. Must be prepared.

    Did you save money for holiday spending throughout 2009 thus leaving you holiday debt free? YES, I shop after xmas sales and others thru out the times i’ve shopped. ALSO, i’ve made it a verbal annoucement to many of my close friends that I’m not fond of buying gifts just to celebrate the Holidays and prefer the quality company. If I give a gift it’s prob small but a lot of love.

    • Jess,

      I agree, the value of love and friendship is priceless.


  • Luckily, there was no debt involved for our holiday shopping. Seems we’re not alone. Most Americans are shying away from debt due to rough financial times.

    Our gift list was very small, and we made sure to score great deals and practiced frugality to keep the budget in tact. However $100 towards student loan debt is always a good thing. :)

    • Minority,

      I agree, $100 towards paying down a student loan would be a great gift.


  • How do I plan on dealing with holiday bills? Whew! First of all, my husband and I started a workable budget just this week. One that is doable for our family. We cannot even make the minimums on our credit cards at this point, but we have three kids at home that need to come before the credit card payments. We are starting by not incurring any new debt – one day at a time. We have hit rock bottom this year and are finally climbing our way out!
    .-= April B´s last blog ..More Goals Accomplished… =-.

    • April,

      If I can help you in any way with your journey to break out of debt, let me know. Here is a link to download my book, Eliminate Your Debt Like a Pro that has some help on how to build a spending plan to fit your life. Check it out, starts on page 81.


  • I did not incur any holiday debt this year. My husband and I are trying our hardest to get out of our current debt and didn’t want to add any more to the pile. This $100 would be a great addition to our debt repayment. Thank you for the wonderful chance at a little extra cash. [I posted the same comment on DFA – I’m just not original after a long day!]
    .-= Olivia´s last blog ..The Start of a New Budget =-.

    • Olivia,

      LOL, I hear you. Thanks for the comment anyway.


  • Melissa

    I don’t have any holiday debt, but I would use $100 to paydown my car loan.

  • Mike G

    Mid-year we worked to get our family back on a budget, including a Christmas budget. We did well sticking to the Christmas budget, but because we didn’t start our family budget until mid-year, didn’t have enough to cover gifts with cash. We’ll pay our Christmas debt ($2K) ASAP, then start 2010 with a budget that will allow us to save cash for next Christmas.

    • Mike G,

      Well it looks like at the very least you should get a pat on the back for stimulating the economy this holiday season.


  • Erin

    Just found your blog! So glad to add this to my RSS.

  • Hi, Steve: The accident happened December 21 and he stayed in the hospital for three (3) days (as required by our PhilHealth Plan). Although the farmer is already out of the hospital but still in crutches and advised to stay out of the dirt. The farmer’s daughter has been with us for almost 3 years now and has been very helpful with the household chores (she does it after school and weekends). The family is renting our small rice farm and I believe its our obligation to extend help. It’s Christmas time anyway.

    -Rey Antoni

  • Twitter is really good where I bumped this message of yours. This concern is not mine but the father of my “working student” who is in high school in the Philippines. A farmer who toil in the rented rice field (planting season here) got a serious cut in his right leg that he could no longer continue the planting preparation. The family has no other means to live for themselves so instead of spending $100 for the holiday gifts and lavish food, our budget had to go to the hospital payment and an additional budget for the family’s land preparation for planting. Our student (the farmer’s daughter) has been a great household help we couldn’t close our eyes to her unspoken concerns and worries.

    • Rey,

      Your selfless story of helping others is inspirational. How is the father doing now?


  • My wife and I have a budget entry for Christmas presents and we actually managed to underspend on gifts this year, and actually came ahead from what we had planned.
    We did pay with credit cards, but that will be paid off almost immediately thanks to a good plan.
    .-= Eric Poulin´s last blog ..Money Lessons Learned: Kids Allowance =-.

    • Eric,

      Underspend! That’s practically un-American. LOL

      Congratulations on a job well done.


  • Maci

    For the first time in I don’t know how many years we did NOT go into debt for the holidays!!! We had a plan and stuck to it – even though it was hard…we were tempted…especially when our daughter wouldn’t stop talking about how much she wanted a Nintendo DSi…but we stuck to our plan and are so proud we did! Now we can continue to focus on our existing debt and are so happy we didn’t add to it!

    • Maci,

      It’s that darn temptation that is hard to beat. While you didn’t give her the Nintendo she might have wanted, she’s richer for having parents that avoided the debt trap.



  • No holiday debt this year. :) First year ever. I am quite happy even though the child’s outlook was not as positive. But you know… she got over it within minutes and was bombarded with more gifts from close family members.

    So, with the $100… it would be put as an extra payment on our high interest WF Visa card. We are determined to get that down to $0 – so tired of paying the interest!
    .-= Money Funk´s last blog ..How I ended up with $10,000 in my bank =-.

    • Money Funk,

      Sounds like a great use of the prize money. I wish you luck on your debt free journey.


  • We pay off our holiday bills with a saving account that we set up each year.
    .-= Caroline B.´s last blog ..The Homies 2009 =-.

    • Caroline,

      What’s your strategy? Do you make monthly deposits to save up the money?


  • Great giveaway! I planned and spent the holiday shopping under budget so I don’t have any holiday debt. But, it would be awesome to knock off some more of the credit card bills and make the New Year get a great start. :-)

  • My holiday bills won’t be bad. I only put about $100 on a credit card which will easily be paid off next month. What I did do was not make my extra payment on my current debt than I usually do so this will technically delay my paying off my debt by a month. Small price to pay for the smiles of Christmas.
    .-= Evolution Of Wealth´s last blog ..Gift Cards: Don’t Do It! =-.

  • After an unexpected trip to the hospital in early December, coupled with a very expensive shopping season, yeah, there’s some extra debt. Family and a second job should help immensely…(but so would a cool $100!).
    .-= Matt B´s last blog ..How To Avoid Fights About Money =-.

    • Matt,

      I can’t promise it will be cool, but it is a hundred bucks.

      So sorry to hear about the unexpected trip to the hospital but here’s hoping things are looking up now.


  • Steve,

    We also went debt-free this Xmas. Not tough at all. We saved up $300 a month from November and December and made that our Xmas budget. We also trimmed “expectations.” Our kids for instance, get tons of “stuff” from other people, and DH and I don’t need or want much, so at our house, all we exchanged were Xmas stockings. Friends and family got home-made gourmet treats (spiced nuts, home-made candies, etc and peaches we canned at the end of the summer). We packaged everything in canning jars with pretty caps made from Christmas-themed fabric swatches. Best Christmas ever–very low stress and we were giving our friends and family high quality gifts that we knew they would enjoy.

    • Jessica,

      Isn’t it nice just to be able to focus on the giving rather than the cost. The whole idea of making the gifts is an awesome idea and much more memorable.

      However, I am still stoked with the gift of Omaha Steaks my parents sent me this year. The cooler is awesome.


      • Nothing says Merry Christmas like the gift of meat. My hubby’s personal favorite gift. He’s got his standing rib-roast in the oven right now. :)
        .-= jessica´s last blog ..I’ll be back, Debember 1st. =-.

      • Jessica,

        I’m jealous of your standing rib roast.

        On Christmas I made two roasts, one a cheap chuck roast and the other a $40 standing rib roast. They both fit in the roaster oven I just love. I used the recipe I put here for my amazing cheap roast. The $9 roast was done a bit early so I took that one out and waited for the $40 rib roast to gently finish.

        While we waited we started pecking at the food and before you knew it we were just plain eating all the yummy dishes that had been prepared. By the time the rib roast was done we were all full we could not eat it right then so I place it on the counter to cool to put it in the fridge later. I forgot about it and it sat out all night. Darn!

        Well the good news my magic recipe on how to make a chuck roast taste like prime rib worked like a charm.

        At least the rib roast looked amazing as it went in the trash the next afternoon.


  • Very nice idea. The more people who realize that they don’t have to go into debt just to fund the holidays the better.

    This was our 2nd debt free Christmas and it feels great.
    .-= Jeff´s last blog ..Emergency Credit Cards =-.

    • Jeff,

      Was it tough to make the switch t a debt free Christmas the first year?


  • I used my debit card for all of my Christmas purchases. There will be do debt hangover for me.

    • Carl,

      Congratulations on approaching the holidays with a plan and emerging without debt.


  • T-Mizzle

    I paid cash for all gifts since I don’t have any credit cards. The number of people I bought gifts for were down to a minimum this year. I have other debts that I have to be concerned with that I hope to have paid off by the end of 2010, so I didn’t want to over spend on Christmas gifts this year.

    • Any chance you’ll be able to payoff this Christmas and save up for next Christmas at the same time to break the holiday debt cycle all together?


  • John

    I only mailed some Christmas cards that were leftovers from last year and before. I already feel like student loans are literally killing me; They are for a two year degree in 97 that I graduated with honors in and I didn’t even get a job. Just the interest is about $210 every 30 days. I haven’t had a real vacation in about twenty years. A vacation is just staying home in my small apartment. I have been eating oatmeal, with a few exceptions,everyday for about two years. I don’t have a tv or a bed. I do not drive unless I really have to (I consolidate things into one trip). I canceled my health and dental insurance. I’m hoping that nothing major happens with my 98 Ford Escort! $100 would be almost half of 30 days interest on my student loans.

    • John,

      Let’s hope this is the year of the real vacation. Do you think the issue that is holding you back is too much residual debt or too little current income?


      • John

        The student loans, which are my only debt, are the biggest problem.

      • John,

        If these are government backed student loans check out the Income Based Repayment program (IBR) and see if that solution will give you some relief right now.


      • John

        I thought that’s what you were going to say. I am already on the income contingent repayment plan and it ultimately does not help. While you have a lower monthly payment the principal balance continues to go higher. My understanding is that after 25 years of those payments the U.S. Dept. of Education will cancel the debt. However, in those 25 years I will have still paid an enormous amount of money plus all the money that I have already paid during the many years prior to getting on this payment plan AND when they cancel the debt which will be enormous because the principal is going higher every month for 25 years the I.R.S. will say that canceled debt is income and now you owe taxes on it. I will still be in the same situation or worse as the I.R.S. adds interest and penalties to a tax debt that I will then owe and I will be in my 70’s as I will be 48 years old on January 8. 2010. This year, for the first time, I have actually paid enough for the principal balance to go in a downward direction (by more than $7000) because I do not have a car payment right now and I worked overtime which is not guaranteed and I have a bad feeling about this coming year and I sure hope that the extra money that I paid this year above my required payment on the income contingent plan wasn’t all for nothing because if I can’t continue paying extra or something happens to my car or losing my job, etc. the principal will go right back up again. The time will likely come when it will no longer be cost-effective to continue spending money on maintenance to maintain my 98 Ford Escort. If I have to get another car, I am going to get ripped off big time again on the financing just like I did with this car. In June of 2002 when I got this 98 Escort they used my student loans as an excuse to charge me a very high payment. The dealership lied to the company that financed the car and said that I paid X amount as a down payment to get the financing approved and I still paid an enormous amount of money for what was already an almost 5 year old car. If I am on the IBR payment plan just as with the income contingent plan the principal will continue going higher and my credit will only get worse and student loans and my credit will be used as an excuse to rip me off and also perhaps prevent me from getting another job and deny me an apartment.

      • John

        Even on the income contingent or income based payment plan, I still pay a lot of money every month relative to my tiny income. It is even more upsetting knowing that I pay all that money every month and I do not get anything in return for it. The cultural mantra is that if you go to school you will get a job making good money but that did not happen. The work that I do does not require any college and I am the only one with a college degree doing that work out of a lot of people. I hear other people complain about the economy and their bills and they do not even have student loans to pay. I tell people be glad you don’t have my student loans. If you had my student loans to pay you would know what bills are. I pay a lot of money every month and I do not get anything in return for that money.

      • John,

        Well since you are already on the IBR and having a tough time we’d need to look at other areas. What other debt do you have?

        I have been saying for years that it’s not credit card debt we should be freaking out about with college students, it’s the student loans.


  • Shannon F.

    We don’t have holiday debt (NOT WORTH IT), but if we did I’d cut out entertainment and reduce food budget until it was paid off.

    • Shannon,

      Thank goodness you don’t have to reduce either category.


  • I and my brother convinced our family not to exchange gifts and instead go out for a nice dinner. I decided to treat my brother and a cousin who is between jobs. The tab was just over $100 for three of us. Far less than I would have spent on gifts and everyone really enjoyed the day. Stressless, debt free and lots of fun, that was our Christmas season.

    • Debt Hater,

      Good solution. The memories of holiday events far outlive the memory of some material gift.


  • Recently, I’ve begun paying dental school applications and the test, which easily amounted to $1,000 in my credit card. My friends and family know about my goals and we’ve made a pact this year – no gift exchanges with me. Instead, we just went out to have a nice dinner and chill.

    Since the $1,000 is on a 0% APR card for the next 10 months, the $100 would certainly help with student loans – which has begun charging interest. College was fun but expensive!

    • Simon,

      Good luck on the applications and the investment in following your professional path. It’s so great that your family pitched in to cut the costs this year and help you get ahead.


  • sandra jensen

    2010 is the year WE get it under control. I have been working on our debt, but this year my husband is on board and that will make it SO much easier. Most of the Christmas went on the debit card, but a little on the credit card. January bill paying will focus on getting rid of that!

    • Sandra,

      It could be argued the key is not to emerge without debt, but for having an advance plan on how to deal with it. Seems like you have got that covered.


  • Gretchen

    To stay out of debt, my husband and I spread out our purchases starting in November. We will also not purchase as many things in January, to make up for December.

    • Gretchen

      Hopefully the residual debt isn’t so much that January becomes a tough month to get through.


  • Ruth

    Plan to look at all debt and look at paying minimum on each except one and put as much as possible onto that debt. Tried to limit the amount of Christmas debt as a present to the family to keep parents sane. :-)

    • Ruth,

      As long as you don’t add to the debt you might want to look at the debt snowball approach of knocking out that debt in 2010.


  • Joe

    Didn’t spend a dime I didn’t have on holiday shopping. We had a wonderful time with all 5 kids and family. Everyone was thrilled they didn’t spend money they didn’t have to buy things they couldn’t afford to impress people they didn’t really like.


    • Joe,

      Wow, keeping it all in the budget with a big family can be a challenge for many. Sounds like you found a good way to avoid bad debt.


  • We’re on the road to becoming debt-free so one of the goals was not to add any new debt this holiday season.

    Once I started down this path one of my budget items was a Christmas fund. With that we were able to give to everyone on our list and stay within budget.

    We did downsize our list though. It was a matter of priorities.
    .-= Bucksome´s last blog ..Thursday Tidbits #3 =-.

    • Bucksome,

      Awesome news on your journey to become debt free. Even though you scaled back were the holidays any less joyous for you this year?


  • Tammy

    Ugh…didn’t do so well this year..so I have an $1,100.00 credit card balance. If I win the $100.00, the first 10% will be taken care of. Thank you for the opportunity!

    • Tammy,

      You can use the amount you spent this year as the framework for a plan in tackling next years holiday season. If it’s possible, save away $100 extra each month and you’ll have the cash on hand to avoid post-holiday debt next year all together. Imagine how cool that would be.


  • Zero debt. We buy all presents (Christmas, birthday, etc.) out of season when there is a good buy on an item, with cash, and put the gifts in the closet until gift time. For example, the local Disney store had a sale 6 months ago on their princess backpacks …. 5 dollars a piece! Normally listed at $19.99, we knew it was a good deal and we knew we would have a “need” to give them away (we have 2 young daughters … .so plenty of birthday parties). We bought 12 of them, and over the holidays we gave away the last 3. Oh, those same backpacks are back up to $19.99. :)

    • That’s a really creative way to save on gifts which you know are going to be given away through the year. You don’t have a picture of all of those princess back packs do you? That would be wild to see.


  • Great giveaway Steve! To deal with our holiday debt, we just didn’t create any debt this year! We made a savings plan this past year – saved up all the cash we needed, and then paid cash for everything we bought. Now we don’t have any bills or credit card debt to deal with!
    .-= Peter @ Bible Money Matters´s last blog ..What We Can Learn From Clark Griswold’s Christmas Vacation =-.

    • Peter,

      Thanks for the cheer for the giveaway. Sounds like you had a good handle on this holiday season. Keep up the great work.


  • Andrew

    Fortunately, I have no holiday debt, because I never spend money I don’t already have except for major expenses.

    • Andrew,

      Are you starting to save for the holidays next year or is the plan to avoid the spending all together?


  • Matt

    No holiday debt! For 2 years, I have had an ING account named ‘Christmas Fund’. I have deposited $75 per month = which gives me a whole $900 to spend on everyone in my family including my wife.

    • Matt,

      I love ING savings accounts. It seems to help many people to have the savings account not so easy to tap in order to keep the money actually saved.


  • Aaahh….the beauty of being single! I’ve decided to keep a very low profile this year and to just spend my holiday time re-focusing on attaining complete debt-freedom in 2010.

    However, had I decided to give out a bunch of gifts, my strategy would be to do something creative (but cheap) such as specially packaged baked goods (everybody loves food, right?). Another idea for gifts are books….or maybe both. I would start looking for deals EARLY in the year and start putting them aside (this also gives me time to think about what each person would like)……

    These purchases would be done with cash (credit cards make me cringe) so that I won’t have any financial surprises next year…..

    2010 is ours to take!!!!

    • Surayah,

      Sounds like you’ve determined that 2010 will be your debt free year. Do you think by the end of 2010 you’ll be completely debt free?


  • Mike

    No Christmas debt directly, but since I’m stilling using student loans for grad school we do have some debt. We are working on paying it off in much less than the 10 years after I graduate in May.

  • If the debt is on the credit card, ugh.. need to get it off as soon as possible:
    (1) Pay off using your money in your offset account – the money will be better to pay off those credit card debt of 20% or so interest rather than offsetting mortgage of 5% or so interest rate –or–
    (2) *Only if you have self disicpline* – let the bank help you: open new credit card with 0% interest balance transfer, request very low limit enough to transfer your debt into, pay off within the interest free period (usually 6 months or 12 ). Close the account once paid off!

    For better 2010 ! Well done, Steve and Matt!

    • Denis,

      Thank you for sharing your tips.


  • Heidi

    We were able to have a debt free Christmas this year, except for the new television my husband had to have. Well, we have since agreed that any and all extra income we receive go to pay that off. I am already making plans for next Christmas to be totally debt free!!!!

    • Heidi,

      Boys and their toys can break the best budget. Guys tend to buy fewer items but with bigger price tags. I think he proved that point. :-)


  • Kourtnie

    Back in aug I started to put my lunch money 3 times a week in a savings jar. Instead I ate cereal for lunch those days. I paid cash for everything except one present. If I continue on my lunch savings plan then by the bill date in feb it will b paid:)

    • Kourtnie,

      Now that is some advanced planning and dedication. Reminds me of a guy I met that packed his lunch for years and took the money he would have saved and eventually used it to buy a new Harley motorcycle for cash.


  • bbee

    We have a financial boundary, our gifting into giving of our time,energy and skills for family to do’s.

    • bbee,

      That is a great way to give. People often lose sight that giving your time and spirit is much more valuable than another pair of gloves. A very treasured way to give indeed.


  • Nice giveaway guys!

    I plan to 100% pay off ALL my holiday/credit card debt by Dec 31, 2009. 2010 is a new beginning, and I won’t allow any 2009 debt to carry over in my new beginning. The $100 will definitely be used to paying down debt.

    Here’s a chance to renew and start fresh!

    Merry Christmas!


  • No new debt here for the holidays – paid cash since we’re already in debt. Trying to pay off all debt as fast as possible.

    The good news is that my husband is finally with me on paying off debt.

    Frondly, Fern

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