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Don’t wait till December to plan your holiday spending

Can you believe summer has ended and now we have to think about the holidays? Time has really escaped us, but if you start planning your holiday spending now, your money won’t quickly escape you. 

Normally during the holidays, consumers excessively spend and carry loads of debt into the new year. Times have changed, and if you want your money to start looking better and working better for you, then you must implement new money habits. 

We all know the Christmas song that says Santa’s “making a list and checking it twice.” Have you started making a list and checking it twice to see who is on your gift list this holiday season? I highly recommend a two-column list — one for family, and the other for anyone else. Keep in mind that you may not want to spend as much as in previous years, especially if the pandemic has affected your finances. Don’t worry if you can’t give like before because to your loved ones, you are the most treasured and important gift. 

Start by reviewing your existing budget. Do you have any discretionary income? That’s money left over after paying all your bills. For those who may not have discretionary income, this is the perfect time to get a fun side hustle and use that money for gifts. You don’t want to disrupt the money you use for living expenses; this is key. 

Gifts are just a portion of your holiday spending. Now think about various gatherings and parties, as well as travel and the costs you didn’t anticipate. Here are a few creative tips: 


  1. Use your points from hotels, airlines, and credit cards to help with this purchase. 
  2. Stay with family to cut down on hotel expenses. 
  3. Shop now for flights, or travel by train. 


  1. Choose not to participate this year. It’s OK. Remember, you are the gift. 
  2. In lieu of a gift, see if you can prepare a dish to contribute to the holiday meal (less expensive). 
  3. Gift a service that others need and you can provide. You can call it your Christmas Community Mission. 

Now that you’ve got an idea of who you’re shopping for and how you’re going to shop, start working your holiday magic. Have your holiday funds automated to another account so you don’t accidentally spend them. Start watching out for discounts, coupons, sales and anything else that will help you stay within your budget. 

As you approach the holidays, remember that the goal is to not create holiday debt by opening new credit card accounts, maxing out existing credit cards or applying for loans just to shop. Focus on what’s important, your loved ones, and remember that the most important gift you can give is you. 

Janera Harvey is a money coach, certified credit counselor and owner of The Credit Journey LLC. Reach her at  

Written by Janera Harvey

Janera Harvey is a money coach, certified credit counselor and owner of The Credit Journey LLC. Reach her at

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