Living with credit

Emily’s list: Holiday procrastination edition

Emily Crone

Holy moly, the holidays are almost here. Hanukkah starts on Tuesday evening, and Christmas is just over a week away. With a gift list that includes my husband, parents, stepparents, siblings, in-laws and a few special colleagues, I’m definitely feeling the pinch.

If you are one of those many people who has been putting off holiday shopping until the last minutes, whether you’re too busy or are reluctant to spend the money, here are several easy ways to get affordable holiday presents.Holiday procrastination edition

1. Buy gifts with gift cards
I’m sure most of us have some unused gift cards in our wallets or drawers at home. Now is the perfect time to get them out. But rather than using them on yourself, use them to buy your holiday gifts! This will not work for a restaurant (unless your gift is taking them out to a meal), but if it’s a retail card, it’s a perfect way to buy presents without spending any money out of your pocket.

2. Find small jobs or trade services
In college, I became very interested in photography. I used Craiglist and personal references to get small, one-time gigs taking photos for small businesses. Sometimes I would trade services. For example, one time I photographed a new skincare room at a day spa, and in exchange, they gave me a free hour-long facial. I could have just as easily asked for a gift card for a facial instead, and used that as a gift. Get creative.

3. Go giftless
One year, my siblings and I realized that each year we just exchanged gift cards of nearly the same amount. It felt so pointless — why were we just buying gift cards of the same amount and swapping them when we all would probably prefer to just keep the cash in the first hand? We originally thought about going giftless, which I think is a reasonable idea if you and your loved ones feel like you don’t need more stuff and just want good company. We ultimately decided to instead only give unique gifts that weren’t gift cards, even if it’s something small. Agree on not doing gifts or find small but meaningful ones on places like

4. Sell unwanted stuff on eBay.
Find some things sitting around that you’ve been meaning to get rid of, like books, DVDs,  clothes, or anything else in decent condition. When you sell it on eBay, you get paid via PayPal. You can then turn around and use that PayPal money to shop for holiday gifts on thousands of other websites without having to even touch your bank account or credit card.

I wish you the best of luck with holiday shopping! I know I need it. Continue reading for this week’s list of my favorite personal finance blog posts!

1. The Jenny Pincher compares the mindset of making money versus becoming wealthy, and how your financial philosophy affects the way you handle debt.

2. Squirrelers shares the strange correlation between email addresses and credit scores.

3.’Tis the season for…lame office parties. Money Beagle explains why Secret Santa gift exchanges can be awful, especially at work.

4. Free $ Wisdom has compiled a list of 25 holiday gifts under $25 that are actually useful.

5. Financially Consumed discusses a proposal from The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to standardize credit card agreements and make them easier to read without having to have a law degree.

6. Momvesting explains why she thinks credit cards can actually help keep spending in check.

7. Canadian Finance Blog admits that it’s not worth aiming for financial perfection and how obsessing over it can lower your quality of life.

8. Money Talks lists three options you have to get out of debt if you are in over your head.

9. We’re always hearing advice on what we should do with our finances. Watson Inc. lists four things we should not do, including obsessing over reasonable purchases and beating yourself up over past mistakes.

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  • Thanks for the link Emily, happy new year!