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What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

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Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

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My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

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Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Q. I’ve been working hard to get ahead this year, but I’ve hit a few financial roadblocks. Money is tight, and I don’t know what I’m going to do to make the holidays special for my children this year.  Do you have any suggestions for me?  

A. You can make the holidays special for your children in a variety of simple and affordable ways. Start by holding a family meeting, prepared to ask them questions about what might bring them delight. Write down their answers to the questions that follow, since they will be instrumental in helping you plan for the season ahead. 

Start by asking them what activity they most want to do for the holidays. Host a family movie night?  Go ice-skating?  Caroling?  Do they want to bake holiday goodies together?  Make holiday decorations?  Do they want to go to a parade?  Hit the local sledding hill? Host a neighborhood bonfire and hot dog roast? 

Next, ask your children what food or treat would they want for the holidays. Are you looking forward to pumpkin pie?  Roll-out sugar cookies?  Some families have a tradition of a particular food on a particular night. For some, the holidays are special as long as there are homemade chocolate covered peanut butter balls or turkey and stuffing for dinner. You might be surprised at how your kids respond to this question.

Next, set a gift budget for each child and then ask each of them what gift they would choose if they could only choose one in the price range you’ve established. Since your children may gravitate toward more expensive gift options, you may need to explain that you are working within a specific budget this year and then help them choose options that fit in your price range.

Finally, use the holiday season as a way to help teach your children about the value of giving to others.   Ask them what volunteer activity they would like to do this year in service to others.  Would they like to go caroling at the senior citizen’s center?  Could they help a neighbor clear her sidewalk?  Would a homemade decoration cheer a lonely friend or neighbor?  Does the local hospital or food bank need volunteers?  Is there someone you know that has lost a loved one this year?  Perhaps you can work together to create a special meal or small gift for this person.

You don’t have to overspend to have a meaningful holiday. As parents, we are sometimes our own worst enemies, getting caught up in the busyness and hyper-consumerism of the season.  We can use the holiday as a way to teach our kids about the value of celebrating little things, and we, too, can learn that intentional choices can go a long way toward creating a fun and memorable holiday season.  

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email acce@acce-online.com.

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.