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How to stop using your credit card for holiday gift-giving

If you are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, do not accumulate any credit card debt for holiday gifts. Otherwise you may run into trouble over what debts are dischargeable in your case.  Instead, come up with thoughtful ways to express your love and appreciation for your loved ones that do not involve spending a lot of money on gifts this holiday season.

When money is tight, financial anxiety can cloud the holidays, making the temptation to use credit cards nearly irresistible. We live in a rather materialistic culture, so when we express our love and affection through gifts we tend to let price carry too much meaning, often by allowing the gifts we give to define our worth. That is particularly true with our close loved ones, whom we are reluctant to disappoint.

The feelings about expressing love through pricey gifts may be especially intense if there is tension in the marriage, or within the household, which is often the case when there are financial pressures.  But we all know that the price of a gift is not a true measure of our love and that gifts do not buy love. To help you follow your wiser impulses, here are three suggestions.

1.  Give gifts appropriate to your financial circumstances, no matter how modest they may be.  That is the only responsible way, and in fact shows your love—especially to family members—more than if you gave gifts you could not afford.

2.  Direct your energy toward coming up with a gift idea that reflects the connection between you and the intended recipient.  Make it a gift that the person will enjoy but also one that shows you really put thought into it.

3.  Communicate honestly with your loved ones about your financial circumstances.  Do this in a way that is appropriate for the relationship, which will be different for extended family, your significant other, and/or your children. This communication need not be negative.  Instead, it can be a constructive conversation about priorities, honesty, and your love for the other person.

Following these tips can be difficult, but sometimes it needs to be done.

Photo by Billy Halsey.

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