Money Monday: How to Have a Debt-Free Christmas without Being a Grinch

BY: - 7 Nov '16 | Money

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Christmas is a little less than seven weeks away. But planning now for the holiday season will ensure that your Christmas spending doesn’t send you to the poor house. Take these simple steps to prevent the holidays from derailing your finances.

Create a budget

Your budget will become the bedrock upon which rests your holiday spending. Sit down with your spouse to decide ahead of time how much you can comfortably afford to spend for Christmas. Break down how much you’ll spend for travel, Christmas tree and decorations, holiday meals and gifts.

Make a list and check it twice

You’ve decided how much to spend on gifts. Now, you’ll need to make a list of the people you’ll be buying gifts for, and most importantly, assign a specific dollar amount to each person. Make sure to consider relatives, friends and co-workers.

At this stage, you may have to cultivate your inner Scrooge. To keep within your budget, some people may have to be chopped off your list. However, discipline here will save you financial pain when credit card bills are due in January.

Remember, you don’t always have to spend lots of money to provide meaningful gifts for everyone on your list. The thought and effort is what counts the most. A fresh baked batch of cookies presented in a decorative container could bring more smiles to someone’s face than any store bought gift.

For inspiration, consider websites like Pinterest, where you’ll find tons of ideas for homemade gifts that anyone would love to receive.

Set aside money each week for your Christmas spending

You want to avoid debt at all cost. Once you decide how much money you can afford to spend for the holidays, start setting aside money every week. If you plan on spending $700 for the holidays and have seven weeks left until Christmas, place $100 a week into a Christmas fund to cover your holiday spending.

Look for ways you can cut your discretionary spending to help fund your weekly Christmas fund contributions. Eat out less, watch Netflix instead of going to the movies or skip your daily latte. Consider using the opportunity to cut your cable bill, slash your phone data usage or look for a better deal on your car insurance. Such moves could pay dividends well past the Christmas season.

Manage expectations

Your kids are the most important thing in your life, but that doesn’t mean you have to buy them everything under the sun. Manage their expectations early. Make it clear, for example, that they’ll receive only one major gift, along with several smaller gifts. Let them prioritize what they truly desire for Christmas.

The holidays should be one of the most wonderful times of the year. Don’t let the commercialization of the season ruin your holiday joy. Create a Christmas budget and stick to it. This will be the best Christmas gift you’ll ever give yourself.

BMWK, how do you control costs during the holiday season?

About the author

Alonzo Peters wrote 298 articles on this blog.

Alonzo Peters is founder of, a personal finance website dedicated to helping Black America achieve financial independence.


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Election Anxiety? Here Are 5 Popular Job Openings in Canada

BY: - 8 Nov '16 | Money

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If these election night results have you feeling nervous, you’re not alone. has the story.

By Sam Becker

It seems like the 2016 election has everyone on edge. Though threatening to flee the country during an election year has become somewhat of a tradition in recent years, this particular election — between two wildly different candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — has given those threats a tinge of seriousness. People are seriously thinking about moving to Canada if their candidate doesn’t win, and the numbers show that it may not be just hyperbole this time.

According to data from job search site Monster, the number of Americans looking for jobs in Canada has spiked 58 percent over last year. “Between January and October of this year, Monster saw 30,296 job searches using the keyword ‘Canada’ on Monster’s U.S. website, which is a jump from the 19,693 in all of 2015,” a Monster rep told The Cheat Sheet.

While these numbers are still relatively small, it does go to show that the 2016 election has people seriously considering some life-altering decisions in fear of the fallout.

Move to Canada? Mull it Over, First

Of course, talk is cheap. People threaten to move to Canada every election year, and very few ever actually follow through. But again, this election seems different, and if Monster’s numbers are any indication, there may actually be a bigger migration north of the border in coming years than we’ve seen before.

Keep in mind, however, that it may not be the best long-term move for most Americans.

As far as the data on searches goes, Monster’s team said the majority of Americans looking for jobs in Canada are looking in Ontario, with Toronto being the most often-searched destination. Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver followed close behind. In terms of the types of jobs Americans are searching for, engineering jobs had the highest hits. That’s trailed by IT work and jobs in the financial industry.

But when it comes to where the opportunity lies, Monster’s team ran down the top five jobs with the most openings (per its data) in Canada. If you truly plan to make a run for the border after the dust settles, these will probably be the easiest jobs to get.

1. Retail Workers

With 25,843 openings listed in Monster’s database, retail jobs present the most opportunity for American political refugees fleeing to Canada. These jobs can be challenging no matter where you’re living, as they’re commonly known to wear you down and often don’t pay extremely well.

2. Retail Management

All those retail workers need management and supervision, and there are plenty of opportunities for that in Canada. Per Monster’s data, there are 12,926 openings for retail managers and supervisors across Canada. You’ll still be in the retail sector, which may not be thrilling, but if you’re looking to build your management experience, this could be a good route.

3. Truck Drivers

With 13,002 openings, it’s clear that truck drivers are needed to transport cargo all across Canada. U.S. Census data has shown that truck drivers have one of the most common professions in the country, and given Canada’s similar layout — namely, sprawling geography ranging from the Pacific to the Atlantic — truckers are needed up north as well.

4. Sales & Account Representatives

Sales is a hot field in Canada, at least according to the Monster numbers. There are 12,411 openings for sales and account representatives, which may be an attractive field for those who wish to remain in the sales game, but don’t want to go into the retail sector. These jobs typically pay more as well.

5. Customer Information Reps

Finally, customer and information representatives, with 11,696 openings, fills out the list. Essentially, these jobs require workers help customers. That can include walking them through product choices or fixing any issues with their purchases. If this sounds like it’s more up your alley than straight-up sales, there are jobs to be had.

BMWK, would you seriously consider moving to Canada after tonight’s election results?

Sam is currently a Money & Career, Health & Fitness, and Culture Writer at The Cheat Sheet. He’s previously worked in radio and marketing, and lives in Seattle, Washington. Sam spends time with his dog, reads and likes a good road trip when not furiously typing out articles.

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