How to pay for the holidays when you don't have a job

How to pay for the holidays when you don't have a job

Harry Dahlstrom | Out of Debt, nine common-sense ways to get a handle on your bills


GALLUP REPORTS that American consumers will spend, on average, $885 for gifts this holiday season. That’s close to the $906 they spent last year, in 2017. But, what if you’re one of the 10 million people living on unemployment benefits, part-time jobs, or the generosity of relatives? Here are some ideas—


Focus on your kids.

Set a specific dollar limit for each child. Ask for a #1 choice from Santa and a #2 choice. Do the best you can within your budget. For everyone else, give a gift from the heart—a nice dinner, a homemade gift, or an IOU for a service like babysitting, household chores, or a helping hand. Oh, and be sure to tell each person how important he or she is to you.


Be a smart shopper.

Shop with a written list. Shop the internet and the discount stores. Shop for the lowest price. Hunt for discount coupons and use them. When visiting the stores, leave your credit cards at home. Bring only enough cash to buy what’s on your list. If it’s not on your list, put it back. Did you know that unplanned impulse shopping can cause us to spend three-times more money than we intended?


What if you’ve already overspent?

Return all but the most important gifts and get a refund.


If you can’t return the less important gifts and you’ve maxed out your credit cards, try this—squeeze a few more dollars out of your daily spending and—send in a larger credit card payment each month. 


Did you know that if you owe $1,000 on a credit card charging 18 percent interest, and you send in only the $25 minimum monthly payment, it will take you 8 years to pay off that credit card?


But, if you add $50 to your $25 monthly payment, you can retire that debt in 17 months. You’d save six and a half years of payments.


Where can you get that extra $50? Well, a few dollars here and a few dollars there will add up. For example, a coffee and a muffin for breakfast—$5. A movie rental after dinner—another $5. That’s $10 a day. It’s also $300 a month. This is called snowball spending. Snowball spending is when little everyday expenses grow into large amounts at the end of each month.


Think about your small daily purchases. What little luxuries could you cut down on, substitute, or give up? Could you make coffee and toast at home for breakfast? Could you watch regular TV or a free movie after dinner? Give it a try. You’d have a few hundred dollars each month to pay down your debt.


Bring home some extra cash.

Here’s an easy one—take an inventory of the things in your home that you no longer need or use and sell them online—baby furniture, power tools, musical instruments, electronics, video games, dishes, cookware, even wearable clothing. Sell them on Facebook or Craigslist and turn your junk into gold.


Then, cash in on your free time. Think of ways that you could help people. Could you run errands, shop for groceries, walk dogs, check in on the elderly, prepare meals, clean things, move things, fix things? Put the word out on social media and charge a reasonable fee.


Cash in on your talent? Could you help students with their homework, write or translate documents, sew or alter garments, draw portraits, take photographs, build web sites, train athletes, sing or give voice lessons, decorate a cake or decorate a room? Again, put the word out and let everybody know what you can do. 


Give it a try. Offer your time or offer your services online, do a good job, be friendly, and charge a reasonable price. You could win repeat customers who can provide you with a steady stream of cash all year long.


Best wishes for an affordable Holiday and a prosperous New Year.



© 2018, Harry Dahlstrom is the author of three, million-copy best sellers: The Job Hunting Handbook, Surviving A Layoff, and Out of Debt. He can be reached at

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