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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

Valentine's Day On A Budget

What Will You do With Your Tax Cut?

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Setting Financial Goals for the Year Ahead

Financing last-minute Christmas gifts

Your Credit and the Holidays

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

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

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Financing last-minute Christmas gifts

Q. I like to wait until the week of Christmas or even Christmas Eve to do my shopping. Some years I get a bonus that I use for Christmas gifts. This year I didn’t get a bonus. I don’t know how I’ll pay for my Christmas shopping. Should I borrow the money? 

A. Counting on extra money like bonuses to fund Christmas shopping or other projects is always a risk. As you discovered, sometimes you don’t receive that money. Now your cash flow isn’t what you were hoping for, but taking a loan will make things worse. How much money would you borrow and how would you repay the loan?   

I am not a proponent of borrowing money to pay for Christmas. However, if you make the decision to borrow money, consider a small, lower-interest loan from your bank or credit union. But if possible, you are better off not borrowing money.

Some banks and credit unions offer “skip a payment” on your vehicle loans as a “Merry Christmas” to you. Since you would not be making a vehicle payment for December, you could use that money for Christmas gifts. You may want to check with your bank or credit union to see if they offer this service. 

To minimize your costs, could you reduce the amount that you normally would spend for Christmas gifts this year? Are there other ways you could come up with money to buy gifts?

Think creatively and find low-cost ways to give gifts to those you love. Here are some ideas you could adapt to fit the people on your gift list.

  • Plan activities instead of giving gifts. Consider hosting a movie night or game night, or start a new tradition. I know a family who gathers every Christmas Day and goes out into the hills to play dodgeball. They bring along popcorn and hot chocolate. This has become a memorable holiday ritual with the adults and children alike, but it costs very little.
  • Give gifts of service. Create your own gift certificates and offer services such as babysitting, pet care, house cleaning, home or car repairs, or car washes. Or give a gift certificate for a special activity with a loved one. For example, plan lunch and a movie with your niece, sister or close friend. Be sure to follow through after Christmas and do the activities.
  • Give gifts of food. The person who has everything might love some homemade bread.
  • In a blank card write down your favorite memory of the person the card goes to.  We often forget how something we may have done or said has helped someone.  To share this memory can provide more benefit than you could know.
  • Photos are inexpensive and people who care about you and your family often love to receive photos. 

Finding creative, low-cost alternatives for gift giving allows you to avoid the stress and high cost of borrowing money for Christmas shopping – and your friends and family might enjoy your imaginative gifts more than they’d like whatever you bought.   Think about how much debt you want to carry into 2018 before taking out a loan. 

Have a very Merry Christmas!

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

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.