Don’t Let Holiday Spending Put You In a Deep Hole

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There can be many money challenges for dental assistants, especially this time of year, so here are some tips to help you stick to your budget and spend wisely.

What is the plan? Are you going to spend a fortune on holiday gifts this year? What about sticking to a budget? Will you put things on credit and pay it off in 2023? There are many things to think about financially this time of year.

I like money! Who does not? I am not offended if you call me frugal. But please do not call me “cheap” as that has a completely different connotation. I have mastered the art of stretching money. It is how I was raised. I spend wisely and save as much as I can. For example, if my husband goes to the grocery store with a list, he purchases everything on the list. Whereas, if I do the shopping, using the same list, I may not get everything on it. It depends on what is on sale and might mean substituting ingredients in a recipe or buying a cheaper store brand. It also means going to a couple stores to get the best price for our food. (I know…I am not addressing the cost of gas argument!)

Do you know what you can afford this holiday season to spend on gifts or entertaining? If not, it is time to start calculating and planning.

Ask yourselves these questions

  • Do you think about your future? (Careerwise or in your personal life.)
  • Do you plan to buy a house or a condominium someday?
  • Do you spend your paycheck in full or do you save something each payday?
  • Are you living beyond your means?
  • Does your tax check burn a hole in your pocket until you spend it?
  • Do you spend a lot of money on going out to dinner?
  • Have you ever made a budget on paper? Can you stick to it?

The topic of money always gets the most hits in Dental Products Report®, because it is something we all want. You aren’t alone with having the American dream to grow rich.

Here in Cleveland, Ohio, a dental assistant earns $16-$20 per hour. If you have kids and are a single parent, you are probably living paycheck to paycheck. It is extremely hard to get ahead with all these bills. I get it. You are just like every other person who wants nice things and wants to provide for your family in a certain way. It is tough, but people who have dreams, come up with strategies to get there, and then reach them.

Here are my suggestions to stretch your money

  1. Make a budget and stick to it. (Until you know what you can afford, how can you start shopping?)
  2. Go online and comparison shop. (eBay can be your friend. You can also find new merchandise for different prices online than in the stores.)
  3. Buy generic store brands. (They are just as good, for the most part, as brand names.)
  4. Shop consignment, thrift, and re sale. (This is the one way you can really stretch your money. You would be amazed at how many new items with the original tags are still on them. Boots, clothes, purses, kids’ games, etc.)
  5. Bake cookies or make handmade gifts. (People do appreciate the thought behind the gift. It is a time to remember the origins of the holidays, not the commercialization of them.)
  6. Propose buying gifts for 1 family member at extended family parties. (There really is no need to go into debt by buying gifts for every single person.)
  7. Teach your kids to help others by volunteering during the holiday season. (Remember the holiday spirit. Not everything costs money. Time together is truly a gift in and of itself.)

What scares me is the amount of debt people are putting on their credit cards this time of year. I am not sure everyone understands that credit cards are fine if you pay them in full each month. When you only pay a portion of what you owe, the interest can be staggering. You will find yourself in a deep hole…one that you may not be able to dig your way out of.

I am not judging. I just want to open your eyes so you can think about this. Spend within your means. Be realistic and honest as you set a budget about what you can afford. Hopefully, this can help you put the brakes on going into debt due to the holidays.

Share your thoughts about spending money during the holiday season by emailing

May you have a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season!