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    The Holidays and Debt: Here’s Another Option

    Back when Santa and his elves made and delivered gifts for all good little girls and boys, no family need worry about holiday debt.

    My, how times have changed!  I read recently where over 25% of US families still carry over debt from last Christmas.

    Debt is – or should be – a big concern.  Are there other options for gift giving, whether during the holidays or for birthdays?  Yes!  Some are inexpensive, while others cost only your time.  I’ve found them to be among the most treasured of all.  Allow me to share a few examples.

    Shared experiences are a fun and typically inexpensive way to create memories together.  Sites such as Groupon typically offer the chance for two or more people to enjoy an event together.  The key here is it’s time spent together and not just giving someone a gift certificate.

    What can you give to the person who has everything they need?  I remember facing this decision each year for my grandfather at Christmas and at his birthday.  Another tie?  A cheese ball?  More cologne?

    Rather than spend money on another pretty much useless gift, I sat down to make a list of my fondest memories of him.  In his case this was for his 80th birthday, but it could easily have been a Christmas gift.

    He lived far away at the time I mailed the list.  Little did I know he had the letter and envelope matted and framed.  He’d hung it beside his dining room table so he’d see it each day.  A few years later he moved back closer to me.  Several times he said how thrilled he was to see it each day and that it was the best gift he’d ever received.  To this day I have it hanging in my residence.  What a great memory!

    Another option is creating a scrapbook with photos or other notes.  It’s very inexpensive, yet it’s something they’ll cherish long after the holiday or birthday passes.

    If you’re good at household repairs, sewing or cooking, why not use those talents as your gift?

    I remember giving hand written cards with “redeemable” coupons.  From doing additional chores (as a kid) to agreeing to watch chick flicks (as an adult), the cards were a small reminder of my willingness to do something the other person might appreciate.

    Simply buying a gift isn’t the only way to show love or that you care.  Author Gary Chapman’s “The Five Love Languages” might help you understand more about how receiving gifts may not be the recipient’s most important thing.  By the way, the five languages Chapman mentions are gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.  As you see, most of my gift suggestions involve those remaining four languages.

    We hear it’s not the cost of the gift, it’s the thought that counts.  Why not try something new this year… and save money while you’re at it!

    Randy Wooden
    Randy Wooden is Director of the Professional Center by Goodwill of Northwest NC. Randy launched The Professional Center by Goodwill of Northwest NC, the first program of its type for any Goodwill®, in 2012. His experiences in career coaching, executive recruiting, business ownership, as a hiring manager and as a job seeker have afforded him the opportunity to view the hiring process from all angles. He developed and provided on-air talent for the Internet’s first daily, live television program targeted toward job hunters. He shares job search tips through a bi-weekly newspaper column; regular appearances on television, radio; and frequent public speaking appearances. Contact information: rwooden@goodwillnwnc.org, (336) 464-0516
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