Ways to Spend Christmas Cash

Cash Machine
Yet another Friday has come. Enjoy today’s staff post by Jordann.

Well Christmas is officially behind us! I received some great presents this year but one of the things I’m most excited about receiving was a bit of Christmas cash from my Mother.

I love Christmas cash, whether in the form of gift cards, mall money, or plain paper money. I love it because it’s flexible and allows me to buy something I’ve really been wanting, something I could really use, or something that the gift giver might not have been able to come up with.

I only have one problem with Christmas cash, and that’s my temptation to do something responsible with it. With any extra cash, I’m tempted to throw it towards my almost $20,000 of debt.

I know that every dollar toward my debt counts, and it’s these little wind fall cash finds the really makes the difference between a debt free date that’s a few years or a few months down the road.

So, as much as I’d like to spend my Christmas cash on something awesome, I have this little niggling voice in the back of my head saying “You should really put that towards debt!”

This is one instance, however, when I’m not going to spend this found money on debt. Yes, windfall money is a great tool to eradicate debt early and it should be used as much as possible, but Christmas money is intended as a gift, and should be treated as such.

Christmas cash, whether in the form of a gift card, or plain cash, is a great opportunity to reward yourself for a year of hard work at debt repayment, savings or whatever your current financial goal is.

Rewarding Yourself Is Important

Debt repayment can get exhausting, there have been a ton of times during this past year when I’ve wanted to throw my hands up and give up my aggressive repayment plan. I’ve been tempted to blow a whole month’s extra debt payments on furniture for my house, or a new computer. Somehow though, I’ve kept at this crazy plan of mine, and I’ve managed to stay on track and pay off almost $17,000 worth of debt this year.

For that, I think that I deserve to be rewarded, and spending my Christmas cash is the perfect way to reward myself. By taking advantage of this Christmas gift, I can spoil myself just enough to keep up my enthusiasm for my debt repayment schedule in the new year, and hopefully eradicate the rest of my student loan debt.

Get Creative

Even though I’ve decided to spend my Christmas money on myself and not on debt, I’m still tempted to spend it on something responsible. Like paint for my bedroom. Or getting my car professionally cleaned. This is another one of my problems, I manage to take something exciting and full of possibilities, like free money, and turn it into something boring and not remotely rewarding.

So, this year I’m purposefully trying to find something truly fun to spend my Christmas money on. I might even try some music or acting lessons. I haven’t come to a decision yet, but whatever I decide to buy, I’m going to make sure I get maximum enjoyment out of it.

Spend the Money…Within Reason

Now, I’m an advocate for spending your Christmas money, but there’s a limit to everything. If I were to somehow get $1000 for Christmas, I would absolutely allocate some of it towards debt repayment. Not all of it, mind you, but definitely a good portion of it. However, since my Christmas cash gift is closer to $100, I’m not going to worry about debt repayment this time around.

Sticking to your financial plan is important, and taking advantage of windfall cash is a key component to achieving goals ahead of schedule. However, once in awhile, treating yourself is even more important. After all, life is about the little pleasures, and while long term goals are essential to achieving what you want out of life, remaining sane long enough to enjoy those goals requires a bit of indulgence.

What do you do with extra cash?

Would you use it for bills/expenses or buy something that you’ll enjoy?


    • @myalternatlife says

      Congrats on your wedding! Putting cash towards that is a great idea, sure you won't be able to enjoy the benefits of it right away, but it'll be worth it in the long run.

  1. Brian says

    I don't do anything with the cash I receive (especially if it is a pre-paid debit card thingy). It either ends up just hanging out in my wallet or going to the bank. Pretty lame I know, but unless there is something I just really want I don't really buy much anymore (outside of a nice meal).

    • @myalternatlife says

      If you don't have any specific wants, then rolling the extra gift cash into debt repayment is a great idea, especially if you aren't wanting for anything in particular.

  2. says

    I just went through this in my head yesterday! i think you’re doing the riht thing! i got $300 in Christmas cash this year. My first instinct would be to save it, as I have no debt anymore. However, I decided to treat myself to a shopping trip with $200. I bought something for myself that I normally would never buy – Hudson jeans! And guess what? I love them & they fit like a glove. You have to treat yourself sometimes, because after all isn’t that what life is about? The small things?!

    • @myalternatlife says

      Exactly! Life is about the small things, and if splurging every once in awhile is what it takes to keep you on track with your goals, then it's totally worth it.

  3. says

    As you said “Christmas money is intended as a gift, and should be treated as such” and I think the same. I would buy some clothes that I need to look professional at work but I wouldn’t buy another pair of shoes just because I like them. I wouldn’t buy another book when I can go to the library and so on… There is a difference between “I really need it (I mean, REALLY)” and “I like it and I deserve it”.

    • @myalternatlife says

      That's definitely true. Unfortunately I often fall for "I like it and deserve it" even though I try my hardest not to!

  4. says

    Sadly this isn’t a problem for me because I received no Christmas cash. If I did though and wanted something I would split the cash 50/50 to responsible and the thing I want. I don’t want much right now so it would likely all to to my girlfriend’s student loan debt payoff fund.

    • @myalternatlife says

      50/50 is a great way to split gift money, that way you're responsible but you get to have a little fun too.

  5. Alysia says

    I agree that it is a gift and should be spent. Because you wouldn't return the actual gifts you got just so you could put the cash toward debt, right?

    • @myalternatlife says

      Right, I would be careful about putting gift cash towards debt since it might offend the gift giver if they ever thought to "follow up" on their gift. My gift came with the specific rule that I "not spend it on debt" so I didn't have to make that decision fortunately!

  6. Mandy@MoneyMasterMom says

    When we had a mortgage we used every cash gift and put it towards the mortgage. We saw it as them buying a brick (or two) on our house. It worked for us, but I know it isn't for everyone. Mortgage debt is a little different then credit card debt as often you don't have a lot to show for it. I think paint for your bedroom is a good idea!
    My recent post Getting Better Sleep just got REALLY XXX-citing!

    • @myalternatlife says

      I actually did buy paint for my bedroom! I can't wait until we get around to painting, hopefully it'll look as great as I'm imagining it will.

  7. John S @ Frugal Rules says

    We tend to use the cash as it's intended and buy something for ourselves that we want. I tend to be pretty frugal with the cash I receive as gifts and save it up for something I really want.

  8. SavvyFinancialLatina says

    No cash for this Christmas. Neither one of our employers give out Christmas bonuses either! A little sucky.

    If we had some extra cash, we would save some of it, and treat ourselves with the other part. You gotta have fun in life.

    • @myalternatlife says

      I didn't get a Christmas bonus at work either, which is unfortunate but not the end of the world.

      Saving part of it for responsible things and using part of it for treating yourself seems to be a popular opinion!

  9. says

    I was thinking about using the money to go towards our house expenses/bills. However now I'm thinking I'll hang on to it and use it for our cruise we are going on in March. That way we don't have as big of a bill at the end of the trip. This post has help to make this decision. Thanks!
    My recent post The Gift of Memories!

    • @myalternatlife says

      Hey thanks I'm glad I helped!

      Saving gift money for a cruise is a great idea, and I bet the gift giver would be happy to know that they contributed a bit towards such an awesome trip!

  10. Budget & the Beach says

    I agree that if you don't spend something on yourself you will get burned out. So, what about take half of that cash for something indulgent (or not "responsible), and the other half towards something like furniture or paint or your car…something like that.
    My recent post Link Love/What Would You Do?

    • @myalternatlife says

      That's exactly what I ended up doing! Half is going towards a new case for my new tablet, and the other half went towards paint for my bedroom, the perfect compromise!

    • @myalternatlife says

      I completely agree, little indulgences, within reason are what's kept me from completely giving up my debt repayment plan.

  11. says

    haha oh Jordann, we're the exact same way. We also got 100 bucks for a gift and the person who gave it to us would NOT want us to just put it on debt, he wants us to buy something for ourselves- actually he demanded that we buy something for ourselves (not the baby, not debt). Ironically enough we also want paint and a car detailing haha. We're trying to decide what to buy :) I have a few ideas but nothing concrete.
    My recent post Merry Christmas Eve: My Favorite Christmas Eve Memory

    • @myalternatlife says

      That's hilarious! My Mom also stipulated that I NOT use it to pay off debt. I ended up buying paint for my bedroom and a case for my new tablet, which I think strikes the right balance.

  12. Financial Independence says

    I would do otherwise if I only receive $100 put all of them towards repaying the debt. While $1,000 give you some freedom – achieving your goals and treating.

    However ultimately everybody is unique and solutions are hand tailored for everybody's needs!

    • @myalternatlife says

      That's why personal finance is so personal, everyone needs to do what's right for them and ultimately, that's different for everyone.

  13. Holly@ClubThrifty says

    These are great tips! I do think it's important to reward yourself sometimes as long as you keep it within reason. Otherwise, it's too easy to get burnt out!

    • @myalternatlife says

      Totally agree, I've approached burn out before and it's no fun. Now with half marathon training and a wedding coming up, it's more important than ever that I don't get burned out!

    • @myalternatlife says

      If you also got gift cards, it's not so bad that you sent your cash to savings. Plus, if you don't feel the need to treat yourself, by all means, don't!

  14. Frugal Portland says

    I thought about it and thought about it, and in the meantime, I got towed! So, problem solved. Thanks, Grandma, for paying for me to park in a bad spot!

    • @myalternatlife says

      Ha! Sometimes life just happens like that eh? Good thing that didn't have to come out of your emergency fund!

  15. sunshineandseashellsblog says

    I've used my gift cards on gas and food so far. I'm trying to apply at least 80% of the cards against my expenses in hopes of saving a little extra cash in the bank during January, but the remaining 20% will be fun money! My nails will be getting a little fix up very, very soon! :)

    • @myalternatlife says

      That's a great idea, that's why I've decided to spend mine on paint for my bedroom. I've really been wanting to buy some, but it hasn't been in the budget.

  16. Samantha says

    We each received $100, so we're putting $100 toward the mortgage (hey- every little bit counts!) and spending $100 on a few hours of house cleaning. We also got a few restaurant gift cards, and we're going to enjoy those!!

    • @myalternatlife says

      Ooo house cleaning is a good idea, I'd love to get certain parts of my house professionally cleaned. 50/50 is a great split for gift money!

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