How to Get Through the Holidays Without Racking Up Post-Holiday Debt

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The holiday shopping season is here, and it’s a tough one because of what the pandemic has done to the economy and to jobs. Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at, has tips to help people avoid more financial trouble this season.

  1. Make a list. Trae tells our Maria Sansone, “You may think, 'I have the list in my head, why do I need to do that?' But this year more than ever, especially if your financial situation has changed, it would be very helpful to look back on last year, make a general list of the recipients, estimate how much you spent, and then look to your budget this year. Can you do the same? Do you need to remove anyone from your list? Or maybe look for trouble spots. For instance, if you’re exchanging with friends and it’s always really expensive, maybe talk about drawing names. Or if you spend a lot on a number of family members, maybe you agree to only buy for the kids or only buy for the elders.”
  • Get deal alerts. Trae says, “Sign up for the emails from your favorite retailer so you’ll be aware of when they’re having those sales. And then also, if there are a couple more expensive items that you want to save on, use a site like This is a site that I work with a lot. They have this great feature called a deal alert, so if there are a couple items you need to buy, like a flatscreen TV or a smartphone, things that are a little pricey, you can set a deal alert for that item and then you’ll automatically be alerted when that item goes on sale. So you don’t have to spend time looking for the sale. And then, also, they have a free browser extension which, as you’re shopping online, once it’s installed, it will alert you to available discounts at the different sites that you’re browsing on. So you can just click on them to activate.”
  • Think of ways to make and save money. Here’s Trae’s advice. “The first is selling gently-used items that you no longer need. eBay is a great platform for this. I recommend them a lot because you can post an item in under a minute, and during the pandemic, they’ve actually been offering up to 200 free listings. So it’s a really good time to check it out...And then the second thing I would suggest is you can give something up, and you may not like this so much. But if you have a habit like going to your favorite barista and buying that $4-a-day latte, maybe make coffee at home instead. Take that money that you’re not spending and sock it away. Another thing to look at is maybe a bimonthly manicure or a monthly pedicure. Is someone washing your car? Is someone cutting your lawn? Maybe these are things you take on yourself right now.”
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