$ix Ways To Cut Out the Christmas Cash Crunch

Alexandria M. Cummings
ZORA
Published in
5 min readSep 15, 2023

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Photo by Erwan Hesry on Unsplash

If you are like me, then you’re still longing for just one more beach day before the first frost. Because of this, you are also not pleased with those candy corn-loving- fall decorating- pumpkin spice latte drinking folks who are already wearing their stupid cozy sweaters with pockets. Or you are one of those people *gasp* mentioned above and you have started creating your Holiday Shopping/Black Friday Pinterest board. Whoever you are- whether yet holding on to summer or staying ready for Fall- the holidays are a’comin!

So… what does a smart, savvy, financially astute person like you do during the month of September?! You know the ones who do not wish to be a$$ out (literally or figuratively) when that January Amex bill pops up?! They get their sh*t together now and start planning so they can keep their holidays manageable. Buying for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and ‘nem do not have to break the bank!

Here are six ways to keep your holiday financially manageable while still enjoying the most wonderful time of the year:

1- Stick to a List.

Scribble down all the folks you want to buy a gift for, number that list, and then cut it in half. Next, cut that in half and then into thirds. Just kidding! But you should prioritize whom you would like to gift.

2- Set a Budget.

Decide how much you can afford to spend in cash/debit or a set amount you will be able to pay off free and clear on the next billing cycle if you plan to use a credit card. Then divvy that budget accordingly for the folks on your list. You are NOT obligated to spend the same amount on everyone. Be thoughtful in considering what would make them feel the most loved, and do not feel obligated to go by price. If, after creating your list, you determine that you are either low on cash or just want to be frugal, exchange White Elephant gifts or purchase something unique from a Goodwill store or online at ShopGoodwill.com. Resellers like Poshmark are also ideal for purchasing gently used items whether for women, men, kids, your home, electronics, or pets. You can also search by brand, i.e. Zara, Banana Republic, etc.

3- Give ’Em a Little WAP (and they’ll go Bongos)!

Wait… you thought I was talking about that WAP?! *tee hee* Nah, son… I meant “Well-wishes And Prayers.” If these last three years have taught us anything, it is how unpredictable life can be, which means we should cherish those we love more often. You know… give them their flowers and some champagne showers while they’re still in the land of the living.

Create a thoughtful card on Canva or go old school and send a handwritten letter to a loved one. Throw in a printed photo from Walgreens, a cute picture frame from Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, or those bargain-friendly bins at your local Target store plus postage, and you are good to go for way under $15.

4- Consider Experiences in Lieu of Gifts.

Instead of purchasing items where the newness will wear off, why not treat your family to an awesome experience like a chef-prepared dinner, hotel staycation, Caribbean beach vacay, or a family paint party and pizza night? I could go on but you get it, right? Chile… spend the money to make memories instead. When hubby and I were dating in college and were mad broke, we made each other gift certificates for things like a home-cooked meal, a foot rub, breakfast in bed, Chick Flick Movie Night, etc. We also created gift certificates for family members for babysitting and other errands. And wouldn’t you know, those were the gifts folks loved the most!

5- Adopt a Family In Need.

At the start of the pandemic, my family and I were privileged enough to be able to purchase gifts for a family of 3 for under $400. We got to shop for their gifts and wrap them! Not only was this a heartfelt gesture but it also taught my 5-year-old about giving, abundance, and gratitude. And, yes, we decreased the amount we would spend on ourselves in order to provide for others and stay within budget. (See #1 and #2 if you forgot what to do!)

6- Wait Until After Christmas!

If after reading ALL of this, you still want to buy something… convince the people on your list to wait and exchange gifts after Christmas. Those January sales are fire! And a little delayed gratification never hurt anybody’s body.

Closing Thoughts…

The holidays are indeed a time of giving, but giving is not rewarding if you struggle to make purchases that you can’t afford. IDGAF whom it’s for either! I can’t tell you how many times in the past when I was shopping (read: overspending) and hoping my debit or credit card would go through. Then I would be upset at myself for doing too much. Nowadays I can afford to spend more, but why? Christmas is just one day and I want to have some money left for December 26 and beyond! (Side note: Why would you want to go into a new year riddled with debt from items that are not assets?!) Plus, if you only can show love and appreciation to your people once a year, then… I don’t know what to tell you. *insert shade here*

Oh and (last thing… for real)- I’m not big on breaking the bank for children at Christmas. Have you looked at all the $shit these kids have?! Tell them crumb snatchers to get a job! Seriously, there is a tendency to overspend, when in reality, most children just want to have fun and spend time with us. Attention is priceless, y’all!

Finally, as part of your gift-giving, buy BLACK and shop local, woman-owned, and handmade businesses (every day really), but especially for the holidays! There are so many amazing, high-quality Black-owned businesses that would love to have you as a customer. A few of my favorite things are:

The retailers mentioned above can get you all the way together, Hunty! I’m talking wine, lipstick, headwraps, African couture, accessories, cute and casual attire, and luxury skincare. And they’re all woman-owned. BOOM! You’re welcome! Happy shopping!

Please share your favorite Black and woman-owned brands in the comments!

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Alexandria M. Cummings
ZORA

Black Woman first. Wife. Mom. Bad Ass. I love all things Chicago and am doing my absolute best to live authentically and shine as brightly as God created me.