Home > Managing Debt > The Debt Diet Challenge: Holiday and New Year’s Strategies

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This is our weekly installment of The Debt Diet Challenge, in which we follow the progress of participants selected to take Jean Chatzky’s Debt Diet as they work to get themselves out of debt and on track to a better financial future. Every week, the participants blog about their experiences with the program. Here is the latest dispatch.


With Christmas coming up, all I have been doing is working. Today I felt better and started cooking some Christmas cookies. I made my pumpkin bars, which I wanted to make for Thanksgiving. That shows you how far behind I feel I am. I talked with Melissa from Credit.com and it was enjoyable. I talked about some of the things I have found by following the Debt Diet.

Some of the things that help me save money I’ve learned from working as a cashier at Walmart. As you probably know, Walmart price-matches other advertised sales. Customers pretty much do the work for me. They come through my line and tell me what they want to price match, and if it something I use, I purchase it within the week of the sale and save money. I also found myself looking for sales when shopping for Christmas gifts, and purchase them cheaper if possible at online retailers like Amazon, or Overstock.com. This has worked for me a few times.

I still have not talked with Jean and not really sure if I will. I really have some questions for her that I need her advice on. They will be happening next month. I received a speeding ticket a few weeks ago, I am not sure if I should just pay this out of my check, or use the money that I currently pay on my loan/credit cards. I also will be heading home to see my grandchildren. This will be an additional expense and there are some accounts I want to ask her about. I still track my expenses and I am doing really well. I have minimized my eating out since starting to work which is good. When I first started working I was eating out more because of the time crunch. My hours will be reduced starting the first of the year. That is a little scary because I have really counted on the money. I enjoy working and getting a regular paycheck.

I really don’t have much else to let you know, except that I still have a few gifts to get for two of my grandchildren. I plan on doing this after Christmas to take advantage of some reduced prices. One of my grandchildren is only two years old, and so she really doesn’t want a lot of special things. The other is my grandson who is 13 and he wants video games, which are pretty well stocked everywhere and can be purchased anytime.

Until next time, I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Holidays are rough. As much as I try to not overspend and cut back on my list it still seems to pile up. I always feel like the holidays are my opportunity to show people how much I appreciate them in my life and have to force myself not to “overgift.” I do not want to add anything to my credit cards but it is hard when the motive is giving to others and not myself. This year, I put money into a Christmas Club account with my bank, which helped tremendously—but it wasn’t enough. I will have to step up my savings next year or do more cuts on the gifts. I feel like my gift-giving has become similar to government spending…..where to get more money and where to cut.

I did well tracking all of my holiday spending separately so I can truly see the cost, and I am amazed at how much I spent this year when I believe I have cut back. It makes me wonder about what I spent in previous years. No wonder my signature on my credit card is worn off. I also wanted to try to do something fun for the holidays with our kids. A quick weekend trip to the Polar Express wiped out the rest of my fund, but is one thing I will never forget. I continually work on balancing my debt reduction with living. I need to do a little less living still but the memories for that holiday trip were worth adding another potential half-month to my debt payoff date. Winter months are long and boring, so I am hoping to push through a little harder on the debt repayment. I don’t want to make it a New Year’s resolution, as those are soon forgotten. I have embraced that this is just now part of my life.

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