How to Avoid Racking Up Debt During the Holidays

The holidays bring a lot of excitement and cheer. But is also a time characterized by a lot of spending. Statistics show that holiday spending goes up every year in the last few years. Unfortunately, holiday expenditure can take a big chunk out of your credit card.

It may feel great while the holidays last but the feeling may not last when you find yourself up to your neck in debt accrued during the holidays. Debt can mess up your life and interfere with your plans especially at the beginning of the year. The question is; can you still enjoy the holidays and still manage to keep off unnecessary debt? Yes indeed! Here are proven ways on how to avoid racking up debt during the holidays.

Avoiding Debt During the Holidays

Work with a Budget

A budget helps you to plan for the available resources and keeps you from doing spontaneous shopping. In your budget, categorize your spending and set money allocation for each item. This can help you have a general figure of the amount that you want to spend and also help you to know where to give more weight. A budget would be worthless if you don’t stick to it; be sure to strictly adhere to it and you will be grateful.

Use Cash to Pay for Expenses

Holiday debts result from credit cards and other loans. Research shows that people who use credit cards for shopping are likely to use many times more money than those that pay cash. There are different ways in which you can put aside some cash for the holiday:

  • Sell stuff that you don’t need in the house. This can be furniture, play gear for kids, electronics, kitchen gadgets, etc. As long as they are in good condition and someone can put them into good use, they are better off bringing you some cash.
  • Set up a holiday account early in advance
  • Use your Christmas bonus to boost your expenditure.
  • Cut cost on your normal expenditure to save for the holidays

Adopt Cost-Effective Holiday Events

Taking your family for a cruise around the Caribbean Islands and lodging in 5-star hotels is a great idea. However, if you will still be struggling to pay the debt come next year; it is time to re-evaluate your options. You can still have a memorable holiday with your family and friends without necessarily breaking the bank. Here are some cost-effective options:

  • Spend time with your family and friends at home and in the process share meals and gifts
  • Plan for traveling at a time when it is likely to be less expensive and save towards it
  • Consider Picnics and Parties

Save on gifts

Buying gifts for all your family, friends and other important people in your life can turn out to be one big expensive affair and especially if you don’t have enough cash set aside to cater for this. However, you can also make the gifts genuine, thoughtful, and memorable at a relatively low cost using the following tips:

  • If you are in the service industry, offer a free session of your services as a gift
  • Get creative and make gifts such as cards for your children’s teachers, boss, workmates etc.
  • Instead of buying a gift for each of your friends, bring them together and cast lots where each buys a gift for one and gets one from another
  • When coming up with a list of gifts to buy, include other options of about the same cost to avoid spending more in case the first choice goes out of stock or is unavailable

Shop Early

Shopping early helps to spread out your spending and also gives you time to shop for great deals. Since holidays are already fixed, come up with a list of everything you need to buy and start buying. Be on the lookout for discounts and offers such as the end of summer sales and stock up on items with the best deals.

The Bottom Line

The Holidays don’t have to leave you with the bitter after taste of racked up debts. With proper planning, a few adjustments, and being flexible enough to accommodate cost-effective ideas, you can still enjoy your holiday without disrupting your future financial plans.


Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top Dollar

Woman cleaning out her closet
tartanparty /

Believe it or not, winter will turn to spring before long, and with spring will come the nearly irresistible urge to purge your house of all the extra stuff lurking in the closets, the garage or under your kids’ beds.

A yard sale can be a quick and easy way to unload all that clutter, but you’re unlikely to get top dollar for your stuff from local bargain hunters. If your goal is to make as much money as possible, you must know where to sell.

Following are some of the best places to sell various types of wares.


Monkey Business Images /

If you have brand-name or designer duds in good condition, your best bet is probably to take those items to a local consignment shop, whether an independent store or one that is part of a chain like Style Encore or Plato’s Closet.

Depending on the shop’s policy, you might be paid either upfront or when an item sells.

How much you get also depends on the store. In addition, you might make more if you accept a store credit instead of cash for your items.

If you live in an area with no consignment shops nearby, consider an online option such as or ThredUp.

If nothing else, turn in your old clothes at a local retailer with a recycling program and receive a discount in return. We detail these programs in “10 Retailers That Will Pay You to Recycle Your Old Stuff.”


Woman browsing used books
Minerva Studio /

Stores selling used books are a dying breed. But if you have one nearby, see what your book collection would garner there.

If you live near a Half Price Books store, selling your books there is another option, as we detail in “9 Companies That Sell Your Stuff for You.”

If not, see how much Powell’s might give you. This independent bookstore chain in Oregon will cover the cost of shipping if you sell your books to it.

Otherwise, there are websites like Decluttr that can help sell your old titles.

To find out how much you could get selling your books online, head to BookScouter’s website, which lists offers from more than 30 book buy-back programs.


Man making a plan on laptop
Bplanet /

There’s no shortage of ways to sell old electronics. To name a few, you can go through:

How much you get and how you are paid will differ from site to site and program to program. So, get quotes from a few places.

If you have outdated or nonworking electronics, read “10 Retailers That Will Pay You to Recycle Your Old Stuff.”

Regardless of how you sell an old electronic device, don’t forget to wipe the hard drive of any personal information first.

Movies, music and video games

Music CDs
Telekhovskyi /

The Amazon Trade-In program accepts video games. And Decluttr is also an online option for clearing out old CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays.

For an off-line option, check with a Half Price Books or video game store such as GameStop.

Collectibles and antiques

Helena Olena /

If you have a truly valuable antique or a collection of highly prized items, you’ll likely get the most money through an auction house. Look for one that specializes in your type of item to ensure it is able to attract the right buyers.

If you have antiques or collectibles that aren’t quite auction-house caliber, look for an antique store that might be interested in either purchasing them or selling them on consignment.

You can also test the waters with eBay, but unless it’s an item with a devoted following, your auction might get lost in the millions of other listings. Try listing with a “Buy It Now” price if you’re hoping to get a specific price.

China and dishware

Marbury /

Even good-quality china and dishware can be difficult to sell for any significant amount of money nowadays.

Replacements Ltd. and the International Association of Dinnerware Matchers will buy china and dishware. These options might offer the easiest way to get a decent amount for your china.

Of course, these sites are going to turn around and sell the items to others for a significantly higher price. If you want to cut out the middle man, you can try selling on eBay. But, as with antiques and collectibles, your listing can get lost in the competition.

Research the going rate for your particular brand and style of china. Then, consider selling individual pieces rather than the whole set to maximize your profits.

Sports equipment

hockey sticks
Alexandr Grant /

Some resale chains such as Play It Again Sports specialize in used fitness equipment.

You can also turn to Craigslist for sales of sports equipment. If you do sell on Craigslist, be sure to follow some simple safety precautions.

To avoid getting caught up in a scam, stick to local transactions paid for with cash or money order for an exact amount.

If possible, meet the buyer in a public place rather than having someone come to your home. If you are selling something large like a treadmill, try to move the item to a garage or entryway to limit a stranger’s access to your house. Also, have a friend — or big dog — home with you at the time of the pickup.

Musical instruments

Boy playing electric drums
Bignai /

Some old musical instruments are a dime a dozen, and you’re lucky if you can give them away. However, others might have some value.

Before selling an old instrument, your first stop should be a music supply store. It might cost you a couple of dollars, but ask whether the store can give your instrument a once-over to clean it up, check for any defects and estimate a value. Then, ask if they sell instruments on consignment.

If not, contact local school music departments and let them know you have an instrument for sale. Band teachers might be happy to pass along the word to families in the market to buy.

Or, if you live near a specialty resale store like Music Go Round, find out what it would pay you.

If neither of these options works, try Craigslist.


Used furniture for sale
Ralf Broskvar /

Unless a piece of furniture is a valuable antique that might be of interest to an auction house, you are likely to come away with the most money by listing it on Craigslist or in local classifieds. Or, if you have a way to transport the item there, look for a furniture consignment store in your area.

You can use the Splitwise furniture calculator to determine how much your piece has depreciated. However, be aware that the depreciated price isn’t necessarily the same as the fair market price. Depending on your area, you can end up selling practically brand-new furniture for 50% off.

Everything else

SpeedKingz /

Finally, we come to everything else: the kitchen gadgets, the toys, the knickknacks, the picture frames and all the rest.

Except in rare cases, most of this stuff is, sadly, not going to fetch much. These are the items that are primed for your yard sale.

Alternatively, load everything up and take it to your local thrift store. In some areas, the thrift store will even pick up your boxes of unwanted treasures.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.


Must Have Tools for Thanksgiving Dinner Prep This Year

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Tools for cooking Thanksgiving Dinner | Thanksgiving dinner | Kitchen tools

We don’t have to tell you that Thanksgiving looks and feels a lot different this year.  This may be the first you you are cooking the big meal yourself.  While we wish we could be there to help, the next best thing is to share with you our favorite tools for prepping a Thanksgiving feast.  And once you’ve got all the tools ordered, be sure to check out our Pinterest boards, for all of our favorite recipes both for Thanksgiving dinner and for the accompanying drinks.






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Must Have Tools for Thanksgiving Dinner
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Must Have Tools for Thanksgiving Dinner
Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner for yourself this year? These tools will help you prep Thanksgiving dinner like a pro.
Holli Beckman
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