There's so much pressure to spend on others for Christmas. But what do you do if you're tapped out?

It happens every year like clockwork: People start talking about the commercialization of Christmas and how it starts earlier and earlier at retail stores. I remember being out at a store on Aug. 14 when I saw the first of the Christmas decorations go on sale. I mean, come on, August 14!

There's a massive psychological push for you to buy, buy, buy this time of year. Not having enough money can leave you with pangs of guilt about your inability to do that. But if you think about the true spirit of Christmas, it's not about you spending money. It's about you spending time with family and friends and sharing experiences together.

 

If you're tapped this Christmas, consider these alternatives:

  • Go give your time to charity.
  • Make small crafts for people if you're creative.
  • Give personalized gift cards that you make for a recipient who can redeem them for a chore you can do to help them.


The point is you need to give yourself space and permission this Christmas to opt out of the marketing frenzy. If money is a real problem, don't need to create a bigger problem by going to spend what you don't have.

I know it's more difficult if you have kids. One suggestion is just to do gifts for kids who are 15 and under. By limiting the age, you reduce your list as much as possible. Just a thought!

Remember, the best gift you can give someone who loves you is time with that person.

Editor's note: This segment originally aired Dec. 2, 2011

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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