Color of Money: Being debt-free for the holidays is a feeling you can't buy in a store

Michelle Singletary on

And who are the best gift givers, according to survey participants?

If you're an adult and you have a significant other, your honey is likely to get it right. Who's the worst?

Co-workers scored pretty bad. I've got a fix for that: Get off the workplace Christmas train. I know I have enough coffee mugs.

I've spent the last few weeks talking various folks out of crashing their holiday budget by buying gifts for colleagues. They've got debt and can't afford such generosity.

"But I have to," one person said. She pleaded that she's a manager and it's expected of her.

I told her to change the expectations.


Frankly, and correct me if I'm wrong, many people will probably be relieved to get relief from buying for a bunch of folks in the office. (If you agree, send me an email at

How about this instead: Spend some time writing a really nice letter about how much someone has helped you do your job during the year or made office life better because of his or her presence. It is the thought that counts, right?

And speaking of letting people off the hook, if someone close to you adores giving gifts and you know he or she may be struggling financially, let the person know you're good this year and that you don't want anything.

This just happened to me. I released a very wonderful person from buying me something. She and her husband took a marriage-and-money class that my husband and I teach at our church. During one session, I was joking about how I hate shopping and how I keep things forever. I even showed them a hole in the sole of a pair of boots that I love. The boots are just fine. They keep my feet warm. I just can't wear them when it rains.


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