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Emily Starbuck Crone

Emily's list: When a deal isn't a deal

December only begins tomorrow, but I'm sad to say that holiday shopping is already giving me a headache. I previously discussed that I avoid Black Friday like the plague. Once Cyber Monday rolled around, however, I gave in just a bit. I am in love with my Roku streaming box and ran across a $20-off deal, so I nabbed one as a gift for a family member. I also ordered some heavily discounted dietary supplements for myself on GNC.com.

I then convinced myself to avoid getting a new Kindle after learning that Amazon was running a $20 off deal (my ancient one still works fine). I am most proud of myself for saying no to the online sale at Ulta.com, a mega-sized beauty store. They offered a choice of three goodie bags, each stocked with $75 worth of sample-sized beauty products and free shipping, with a $35 purchase. I saw the offer in my email and immediately began searching the site for $35 in products so I could earn an adorable houndstooth bag full of goodies. After a few minutes of searching and realizing all I really needed was some hair detangler, I managed to close the browser and step away. Emily's list: I'm my own worst enemy

It was hard, but I had to remind myself that a deal is not a deal when you don't need it. And wait a second -- isn't Cyber Monday supposed to be about gift shopping for other people? I spent nearly all of my time and energy buying things for myself. The last thing I need to do is spend money on gifts for me. It's supposed to be the time of giving to others!

I still plan to do nearly all of my holiday shopping online to avoid the masses. While it allows me to beat the crowds, I've realized that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to online holiday shopping. When I'm in a store, there's only so much I can do and see, and then I have to leave. The downside of shopping online is that it's endless, and it can be tough to turn away when the offers seem unbeatable. All of the deals I mentioned above except Amazon came in through my inbox, so I think I'm going to unsubscribe from those emails. This season is all about joy, and I'm going to be a miserable lady if Christmas and Hanukkah roll around and I've spent more money on myself than my loved ones.

Check out my 10 favorite personal finance blog posts from the past week, several of which discuss the challenges of holiday shopping.

1. Young and Thrifty questions the notion that bigger houses are better and reminds readers of the true costs of owning a large home.

2. On her fourth blogging anniversary, TeacHer Finances shares her best advice on how to find financial success.

3. Frugal Dad offers several tips on how to save money as a college student trying to avoid debt.

4. One Money Design lists some of the best and worst ways to pay for your holiday gifts.

5. Call Me What You Want, Even Cheap provides 10 ideas for holiday gifts that cost less than $10. 

6. Cash Money Life explains how holiday shopping provides the perfect opportunity to teach children about how money works.

7. Young, Cheap Living discusses how getting out of debt caused him to shy away from borrowing money again, even for a house.

8. Modest Money shares why he thinks personal loans and credit card balance transfers aren't always bad debt.

9. Good Financial Cents lists five bad money decisions we have all probably made but don't want to admit.

10. Financial Highway offers advice on how to throw a holiday party without spending tons of money.

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