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Love and Debt: Why you need to talk about money

Valentine's Day On A Budget

What Will You do With Your Tax Cut?

How to Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Setting Financial Goals for the Year Ahead

Financing last-minute Christmas gifts

Your Credit and the Holidays

Where to go for mortgage and debt help

What You Should Know About Debt Settlement

Create a plan to deal with medical debt

Options for Higher Education

Back-to-School Strategies for Staying Out of Debt

Will Changes in Credit Reporting Affect You?

What to do if your medical bills are turned over to collections

What to do if your spouse can't pay his or her bills

What to do when a family member ruins your credit

Homeownership is possible

What you need to know about the IRS and collection agencies

Will being turned down for a store credit card hurt my credit?

Beware of credit repair

Debt Management versus Debt Settlement

How to get ahead of late fees

Is There a Service That Helps You Not Pay Bills

Is a Debt Owed

Patience is the key to furnishing a new home

How to split expenses with your partner

Will my boyfriend's bad credit affect me?

Tax filing options to consider

What to do if your account is turned over to collections

Celebrating Valentine's Day on a budget

Personal Credit and Starting a Business

Finding Money to Reduce Your Debt and Improve Your Credit

Simple Keys to Personal Finance

Be vigilant to avoid telephone and internet scams

Debt Settlement

Understanding credit utilization

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

The pros and cons of skipping a payment

Strategies for Financially Surviving the Holidays

Creating a fun and memorable holiday on a budget

Keep an open line of communication with parents about their finances.

Make a Choice to Get Ahead Financially

What to do when a relative asks you for money

Should You Buy a Home Now or Wait?

The difference between debt settlement and debt management

Tax Refund Delays for some in 2017

The negative impact of paying a payment 30 days late

Stressed by Finances

How to navigate two significant financial decisions: starting a family and buying a home

How to advise someone close to you who is coming into a significant amount of money

Make a Conscious Decision on How to Spend Your Money

Tips for Back-to-School Shopping

How do you know if you have a good credit score?

Americans spend more money eating out than on groceries

Having Good Credit Saves You Money

Developing good money habits with your first job

How to save for a home

How to Know if you are Ready for Home Ownership

When is the right time to buy a home?

You can improve your credit to buy a home

Plan a Memorable Vacation Without Incurring Debt

The Hidden Costs of Payday Loans

Be Wary of Credit Repair Services

Use Caution when playing the credit card game

What does it mean to say bankruptcy gives you a clean slate?

How your credit is affected by various debt options

Be wary of predatory small business loans

What to do if you fall behind on mortgage payments

Financing a College Education

Money, Credit and Relationships

Should you be concerned with your date's credit scores?

Best options for a small, short-term loan

How to help a relative who is always borrowing money from you

Setting New Year's goals that you can keep

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Skipping a Payment over the Holidays

What to do if you are overwhelmed by medical bills

Make your financial intention a financial goal you can achieve

Should Consumers Use the New EMV Cards?

What to do when a collector calls you

The difference between paying bills and managing your money

My wife and I have gone through some tough financial times, which eventually led us to file for bankruptcy.  Following this experience, I don’t ever want to use credit again, but my wife

What do I need to know to pay ahead on my mortgage?

What to do if you get an unsolicited credit card in the mail

What to do when moving in to share expenses doesn't work out

Making the holidays memorable for families on a tight budget.

Q. I’m a single parent and struggle every month to make ends meet.  I’m waiting until the last minute to Christmas shop because it will take me that long to have any extra money.  This year, I want to stay in my budget and avoid debt, but I also want to make the holidays special for my children.  I don’t know how to do this. Can you help?

A. Whether you are a single parent or a two-parent family, living on a limited income and enjoying the holidays can be challenging, but it can be done. 

Start by gathering your children and asking each of them to answer a few questions that will be the basis for creating a memorable holiday.  Ask only those questions that you can follow through on.  You can set parameters for the questions, but let your children choose their own answer.  I’ve included a few questions to get you started.

  1. What one gift do you want that would make Christmas memorable for you - something you would remember?  Put a price limit on this question.  If $25 or $50 is your max, say so. Your children will appreciate your honesty.  If they request something outside your budget, ask them to come up with an alternative.  Don’t judge their answer if they come up with something unusual; honor their requests.
  2. Ask each child: What one activity do you want to do for the holidays that will make this time memorable for you?  If necessary, offer a few suggestions:  go out and get a Christmas tree, decorate a Christmas tree, make Christmas decorations, bake cookies, go caroling, visit a holiday light display, etc.  
  3. Ask each child what one special treat he or she would like to eat for the holidays. Do they want homemade cookies, a special candy?  I know a family where most of the kids wanted their own can of olives.  While that may seem odd to some, to them it was a treat to have their own.  They loved their Christmas olives.
  4. The holidays are good time to teach children the importance and value of giving, too.  Ask each child for one way he or she would like to give to others. It may be taking on a chore for a neighbor who needs help.  Maybe it’s volunteering for an organization they care about. It may be donating a can of food or giving a pair of socks for someone in need.  The person that gives is often more blessed than the one who receives, and it’s worth the effort to invest in the lives of others.

Find creative ways to fulfill the answers for each question and be as intentional as possible. In the meantime, don’t apologize for living within your means. Your kids, regardless of their age, will know you are doing all you can.  Plus, you will be teaching them  valuable lessons that they’ll carry with them into their adult lives.   

Bonnie Spain is the executive director of the American Center for Credit Education and Consumer Credit Counseling Service of the Black Hills. For more information, email

The material in this transmission is provided for personal, non-commercial, educational, and informational purposes only. ACCE makes no representations or warranties with respect to the accuracy or completeness of the contents of this transmission and assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies, omissions, or any inconsistency herein. You should consult a professional where appropriate.