Kimberly Seals Allers

            It always strikes me how the holidays are supposed to be so merry, but they seem to always end up being so stressful. Moms and dads want to create the "perfect" Christmas, everyone is trying out out-do the other and the whole thing turns into a mess. A lot of the holiday stress is around money, or the lack thereof. And the holidays are often the time when many families take on more credit card debt, blow their budget and avoid paying bills just to find money to buy presents. And in these tough times, overspending can be more dangerous than ever before. It has been estimated that one out of every three African American families is at the risk of falling out of the middle class due to job loss, overspending, unexpected financial crises or other issues.
             Even though our spending power exceeds $920 billion the average net wealth of black families is merely $15,000. In fact, Black people disproportionately represent a major portion of Americans in debt:
  • Right out the gate more Black college grads are left with more debt than white students, and the average American takes about 10 years just to pay off their student loans.
  • Over 90% of African-American families earning between $10,000 and $24,999 are in credit card debt.
  • 26% of Americans said that they do not pay all of their bills on time. Among African-Americans, this number is 51%.
This year, I’m imploring all families to be mindful of their budget. Avoid taking on undue stress by digging yourself deeper into debt, and strongly consider going back to basics and remembering the true spirit of the holidays. Family. Togetherness. As moms we play a critical role in setting the tone for the holidays and we also bear the brunt of cleaning up any financial messes we create. As part of my personal gift to you, I also found these great tips that I wanted to share with all women and heads of households, so that you can have a merry holiday without the holiday hangover. That never feels good.
1.      Minimize all gifting and expenditures to your immediate family (You and your Kids, and husband/significant other)
2.      Make a list of your income and all of your expenses.
3.      After you have a very clear picture of where your money has to go you can see where you have room to wiggle room! Give yourself a very specific credit card budget and don’t go beyond that.
4.      Instead of buying 3 or 4 expensive gifts buy more inexpensive gifts.
5.      Start early and use layaway programs for your must-have items.
6.      Make this holiday season about family bonding. Check your local papers and websites for free events that will be great for you and your family.
Let’s make smart decisions to close out this year that won’t leave us stressed out next year.