Make the most out of your money during the holidays ($300 giveaway ends 12/6/13) #HRBlockEA


Holiday Budget Stress

Turkey, stuffing, gift wrapping, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, traffic jams, fighting over parking spots, visiting Santa at the mall… Our minds are certainly on a lot of things these days. One thing I can guarantee is probably not first and foremost on your mind right now is something that we all dread – tax time!

Believe it or not the end of the year ins near. No sooner do you pack away the last ornament you’ll have to unpack your purchase receipts and income information. More on that later…

Right now I’m focused on trying to save up every dime I can to buy gifts for my kids. I had money saved up to take them some where special this year, but all that money disappeared in a matter of days thanks to a hefty vet bill and car repairs. Sigh… What I wouldn’t give for some extra cash for the holidays.

Having a limited budget means that I need to be creative when it comes to purchasing holiday gifts.

In years past I have always shopped ahead of time. Whenever I found a great deal I would purchase an item and hide it until Christmas time. That worked great when my kids were little and played with toys. They didn’t care about what was the “hottest toy of the season”. My kids were happy with any toy they received from Santa Christmas morning.

Gifts under the tree

Another thing I did when my kids were little was to shop online at Ebay or a local consignment shop or thrift store for gifts. My kids didn’t care if something wasn’t new or not – it was new to them and that was all that mattered.

You can also pick up gifts for others at thrift shops. You can add your own creative touches to something to give it a whole new life. A new coat of pant and some embellishments can turn something ordinary into the extraordinary. There are plenty of DIY websites and books to provide you with some inspiration.

Speaking of DIY, don’t discount handmade gifts. If you have a talent let it shine and make gifts for those on your holiday shopping list. If you can knit, make sweaters. If you are handy and able to build things, why not make someone a magazine rack or a bookcase. If you are handy with cars maybe you can offer a friend or family member a free oil change that you can do yourself.

Homemade food gifts are always nice. One of my favorites that I give away almost every year is Fireside Coffee. You can find the recipe on my site here. Cookies, cakes, fresh baked breads… these are all great gift ideas that don’t have to break the bank. Another thing to consider is cooking an entire meal for someone special (especially a shut-in or elderly person). A freezer full of pre-made meals would make a fabulous gift.

Fireside Coffee topped with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.

Fireside Coffee topped with whipped cream and crushed candy canes.

Gifts don’t always have to be something tangible that you can hold in your hands. A gift of “time” is also appreciated. Take a friend out to lunch and a movie (your treat!) or simply meet at a local coffee shop and give him/her 100% of your undivided attention, especially someone you don’t get to see or talk to that often.

When my kids were little they liked to make “coupons” for services such as washing the dishes, taking out the dog and doing the laundry. You could spin this same idea for a grown up too. You could offer some coupons for things like mowing the lawn, back massage, doing the dishes and other chores around the house. If I gave my hubby coupons for a free back massage from me he would probably turn in a coupon every day. LOL!

If you think it would work with the recipient you can always give them an IOU for a special gift. For example, our son LOVES New York City and would go there every weekend if possible. We won’t be able to go now, but we can promise to take him someplace he really wants to go when the weather is nicer, like the top of the Empire State Building.

As you can see, with a little creativity you can find ways to stretch your budget a bit and give people special gifts without having to take out a second mortgage to pay for Christmas. Ha Ha.

Whatever you do please don’t put things on your charge card. I think that makes it worse. Sure, you’ll be able to afford all the gifts you want for others for the holiday, but come January 1st you’ll regret that decision when the credit card bills start coming in.


There are other ways to afford the holiday season. Are you familiar with H&R Block’s Emerald Advance® line of credit? With this special line of credit applicants may be eligible for up to $1,000 that can be used NOW, and not have to worry our stress out about jumping through hoops. The application process starts on November 25, 2013, which means you could have a line of  credit available for holiday shopping, holiday travel, meal planning or unexpected expenses that might pop up.

With H&R Block’s Emerald Advance® line of credit you can celebrate more and worry less.

You can start making appointments TODAY. All you need to apply is an unexpired government issued photo ID (such as a driver’s license) and your most recent pay stub (no W2 form required). That’s all you need. And you don’t even have to be an H&R Block client to apply. H&R Block’s Emerald Advance® line of credit is open to everyone as long as you have the required documents (photo ID & recent pay stub). It’s that easy.

With the H&R Block’s Emerald Advance® line of credit you can draw from as you need it. You can use it year-round for unexpected expenses and other short-term credit needs.

For more information or to make an appointment contact your local participating H&R Block office.

You can also check out H&R Block on Facebook and Twitter (@HRBlock). Their official hashtag is #HRBlockEA.

To help you have a wonderful holiday season, H&R Block would like to give a lucky reader a $300 gift card. Thank you H&R Block!

This giveaway is open to US residents only and will end on December 6, 2013 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please leave a comment on this post and tell me what you think you would do with the $300 if you were the lucky winner – OR – Share a tip on how to save money or stick to your budget during the holiday season.

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*H&R Block has asked me to help promote the Emerald Advance Line of Credit. The prize was provided and may be shipped to the winner by H&R Block, but all opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of H&R Block. Entrants must be 18 or older and located in the US only. 

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family, five cats, dog, a tank full of fish and snails. She is also a freelance writer and photographer.


  1. jeremy mclaughlin says:

    I would use the money to help pay off some bills.

    • I would use the money to buy my amazing 3 year old autistic son lots and lots of presents for christmas! 🙂

  2. Carey Parks says:

    My son is autistic and needs a tablet. I would get the tablet and send the giftcard for school for his CBI trips.

  3. Catharine R says:

    This year, I am “pre-shopping” online, making a list and not deviating from it, and keeping things simple.
    ceriehl at gmail dot com

  4. I would love to win! My older son wants a Surface 2 for christmas. Money is tight here too so we are trying to figure out to pay for it without charging it! This would be awesome!!

  5. I would use it for Christmas presents.

    Thank you!

  6. Wanda McHenry says:

    I would buy a flat screen tv!

  7. I would love to spend it partially on gifts and the rest on holiday decorations. We always borrow those and never seem to get our own.

  8. This would a wonderful joy to win. I know it would be so helpful in purchasing gifts and also groceries this season. To save money during the season I make baked goods and I handmake other items such as scarves.

  9. Jim Nichols says:

    I would use it to buy Christmas gifts for my family.

  10. Alana Vester says:

    I always shop around before buying something. I never go for the first deal that I find, I may find it somewhere else that is cheaper.

  11. Alana Vester says:

    I follow on BlogLovin’.

  12. I make a list of gifts to purchase and stick to it. Its how I’m able to budget during the holidays.

  13. Jeana O'donnell-Murphy says:

    I would use it for Christmss for my two teens because last and this year has been rouh

  14. Alana Vester says:
  15. I’d use the money for gas as we travel a lot during the holidays


  16. Mary Happymommy says:

    I would buy a flat screen TV for my hard-working husband.

  17. krystal pena says:

    I would save it for my husbands USA work perment

  18. I’d probably use the gc for holiday grocery shopping.

  19. If I won this I would spend it on my family for christmas I just lost my job and I still have a lot of family to buy for Xmas

  20. I have a handicapped brother who just moved in and I would like to get him something nice for the holidays thanks alan