Maybe The Best Gift You Can Give Your Family This Year is to Get Out of Debt

Maybe The Best Gift You Can Give Your Family This Year is to Get Out of Debt


Today, countless shoppers will embark on their annual Black Friday shopping spree—seeking out all the perfect gifts at all the perfect prices.

In fact, this Black Friday weekend is expected to break records. 74% of consumers in the US say they intend to take advantage of sales this weekend. And Black Friday sales are expected to cross $9.8 billion in 2023—that is $680 million more than the record number recorded last year, in 2022.

All told, the average shopper will spend $430 on Black Friday.

And those numbers don’t even include all holiday shopping. Americans will spend approximately $1,000 each this year on Christmas.

Black Friday is not a relic of the past, it is only growing in popularity. In fact, adults between the ages of 35 to 44 shop the most on Black Friday. Young adults ages 18 to 24 come in second, while older adults (ages 45 to 54) come in third.

Now, those statistics might be well and good if the money was being spent on needed gifts. But that is not the case. Experts predict 33% of all Christmas gifts are returned and 52% of Americans admit to opening up at least one unwanted holiday gift each year.

But again, even unwanted gifts might not be so bad if we were spending money we had. But, all of these stats can’t be separated from the fact that many of us are already living in debt.

In fact, consumer credit card debt topped $1 trillion for the first time ever this past August. That is a 5% increase in just one quarter. 47% of US consumers are now carrying credit card debt from month to month—half of us!

And that’s just consumer debt. When you add in mortgage debt, student debt, and car loans, American households now carry a total of $17.29 trillion in debt. The average household debt in America is $103,358.

In other words, America is rushing out today to buy things people don’t want, with money they don’t have, just because someone slapped a Black Friday Sale sticker on an item in a store.

But in doing so, are we overlooking what our families truly want for us and desire from us?

If our families knew we were driving ourselves deeper and deeper into large credit card balances with ever-increasing interest rates just to buy them something for Christmas morning, is that even what they would want us to do?

Maybe some… but not most. I believe, deep down, they want something different from us. They want us to live well and with less worry.

So this Black Friday, I propose a different kind of gift-giving—one that might not fit into a neatly wrapped box, but offers long-term stability and peace of mind.

Maybe the best present we can give our loved ones this holiday season is the commitment to get out of debt—and the persistence to make it a reality in our lives.

Imagine a holiday season where the focus shifts from excessive spending to building a more secure financial future. Where we replace the stress of overspending with the gift of financial responsibility and intentionality.

Think about it this way: Love, at its essence, is about wanting what’s best for others.

And if making the bold choice to change your lifestyle in order to remove yourself from the life-robbing burden of consumer debt will lead to longer-term joy, freedom, and security in your life, isn’t that what those who love you the most want for you?

Like I said, maybe the best present we can give our loved ones this holiday season is the commitment to get out of debt. My guess is it would relieve quite a bit of worry among those who love you the most and want what’s best for you.

But what would this look like? Especially in a culture and society that so desperately champions and clamors for the expensive item packed in cardboard and wrapped with a ribbon under a tree.

Here are some of my thoughts on how to make this happen:

1. Open, Honest Communication

If financial health is a necessary goal in your life, it’s essential to have transparent conversations with your family. Humbly share with them your financial situation and why you are unable to spend a lot of money on gifts this year.

You don’t have to get into deep details, but a simple opening sentence like, “This is hard for me to say, but we’ve reached a point where we need to do something financially…”

If it helps, they probably already know you are outspending your means…

Share your aspirations to manage finances better and involve them in this journey. If it helps, lay out a timeline of what you think this might mean for next year—hopefully being able to return to typical traditions (assuming they are healthy).

2. Get Started Today

Getting out of debt should be a goal—and removing unnecessary consumer spending is a life-changing step to achieving that goal.

But I think it is a bit unfair for you to start by not buying gifts for other people. Your decision to spend less on holiday gifts this year will mean A LOT more if you’ve been making sacrifices yourself for the last month.

Make adjustments now that show you are also making personal sacrifices in order to make this a reality in your life. Cancel streaming services, sell your event tickets, stop eating out, decide to buy nothing the entire month of December, for example.

3. Gift Intentionally

Your decision to change your financial position doesn’t mean you’ll give no gifts this Christmas. It just means the gifts you do give will be different.

Consider handmade gifts, gifts of service, or experiences that cost less but carry more emotional value. What you sacrifice in spending, make up for in thoughtfulness.

This is an important step and cannot be overlooked. Your decision to get out of debt and therefore spend less on gifts this holiday season doesn’t mean you’re not going to give gifts—it means you’re going to put in extra time and effort.

4. Communicate Early

If you’re planning to shift your approach to gift-giving this year, it would be wise to communicate your intentions early, especially with immediate family members like your kids.

This not only helps set expectations but also prevents loved ones from overspending on you.

Make no mistake, cutting back on Christmas spending to get on better financial footing and stability is absolutely one of the greatest gifts you can give your children! But if they are used to opening lots of presents on Christmas morning, you’ll want to communicate early.

If you have kids, discuss why this Christmas might look different. Explain the value of financial stability and the long-term benefits that come from making wise financial decisions now.

A friend of mine recently shared how their entire financial life changed when they sat down their two teenage kids and explained the changes they were about to make in their home. Their kids, rather than being upset, felt honored to be included in the conversation and even began looking for ways the family could cut back that the parents hadn’t considered before.

This honest conversation about gifts can be an invaluable lesson in itself, teaching the importance of thoughtful spending and the true meaning of the holiday season.

5. Follow Through

Once you’ve made the decision to cut back on holiday spending to improve your financial health, it’s crucial to stick to your commitment. Remember, you can’t genuinely tell your family you’re focusing on getting out of debt and then splurge on extravagant personal indulgences like concert tickets or luxury items. That’s just selfish.

True commitment to changing your financial situation means consistent sacrifice and sticking to a budget and spending plan well into the New Year.

The real gift to your family—the gift of financial stability and security—is only realized when you follow through with your plan until your financial goals are achieved.

In a culture that too quickly equates love with material gifts, choosing to reduce debt as a holiday priority is a radical act. It requires a different mindset of thinking deep and reconsidering what our family most wants and needs from us.

But on this day of frenzied shopping where consumers already living in debt will rush out to buy even more, let’s take some time to rethink our priorities and how we bring our best into the world.

Because the very best gifts that we give to those we love the most are not found on a department store shelf.



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