Pause Before Purchase

Your-Communication-Connection-Speaker-Colette-Carlson‘Tis the season for overspending – you can tell by all the ads for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Cash-strapped Saturday. Almost makes you feel un-American if you don’t spend your way through the holidays. But let me assure you, you don’t have to go into debt to show your loved ones how much you care. One tactic: Pause before purchasing. If you didn’t go into the store or on the website specifically to buy that swell item you suddenly think you can’t live without, give yourself a 24-hour cooling off period.

But what if you’re on a tight budget and will be cutting back on your kids’ gifts this year? It can still be a special holiday, as I reminded one woman who sought advice through my Ask Colette column:

Dear Colette,

Bottom line is I lost my job earlier this year and have yet to find a new one. Thankfully, my husband is still working, but we are having a hard time making ends meet. We were never one of those families that went overboard on holiday gifts, but my three children (8, 10 and 14) are still used to receiving something special each year. We've already cut back on their sports and lessons due to our situation, so they know things are tight. I'd still like it to be a special holiday. What should I do?

Dear Hurting for Cash,

First of all, I admire that you've chosen to cut back where you can — even with the kids' activities so they are aware of what's going on right now. I think it's perfectly acceptable to speak the truth.

Sit the kids down (perhaps separately, but in a timely fashion so they don't talk to each other before you have had a chance to connect) and be honest. The reason I encourage you to do this separately is so each one can truly react and feel without their siblings around. It also allows you to just hold them for a moment and feel that closeness.

Then I'd speak the truth: "As you already know, we're working hard to be smart about our money right now. In fact, we're being extra careful to insure that all bills get paid in a timely fashion which is why we need to talk about Xmas. This year, we only have X amount of money to spend on your gift. (Choose an amount and don't worry if it's simply $25 per child.) That's why I'd like you to think hard about what you truly want that's within our budget. I'm happy to help you look on the internet to figure out prices or come up with ideas if you choose. I also want you to know how much I appreciate you being flexible during this time. It's not easy for a kid to have to make sacrifices when they see their friends getting so much. I'm very proud of you and how you're helping us as a family." Then I would just hold them or answer any of their questions.

I would also plan some activities that are unusual to make the day festive and change the game. Since the kids are receiving one item, perhaps you could create a scavenger hunt with 7 or 8 clues per kid hidden around the house so they have to search for the gift.

Since the day really is about being thankful, perhaps you could give each family member 4 pieces of paper to write down something wonderful about each other. You could drop them in the appropriate stocking the night before to be read in the morning. Play a board game, card game or have a Nintendo contest if you already own the equipment. Eat dessert for breakfast.

Know you are giving your children the greatest gifts of all: Love and Truth. Have a blessed season, and may you find a new position soon.


Step into the Truth Booth, improve your life, and laugh along the way with funny motivational speaker Colette Carlson. How did she go from emotional coward and the Pizza Delivery’s favorite customer to #1 sales producer for sales legend Tom Hopkins and Brian Tracy, featured in Success Magazine, a 50 lb. weight loss, and inspiring audiences at Microsoft, Accenture, Pepsi, Boeing, and organizations worldwide? Visit her at or call 760-230-1212.

Colette founded Speak Your Truth, Inc. to share her success systems and inspire others to Think It! Speak It! Live It! Her tools and takeaways create authentic, long-lasting change in every aspect of your life. With a MA in human behavior, a successful business and 2 teenage daughters, Colette provides a unique combination of education, research, real-life experience, and heartfelt humor to motivate you with her high content programs. Improve your Communication Skills, Work-Life Balance, Sales, Leadership, Assertiveness, Negotiation…all wrapped in the genuine power of Speaking Your Truth.

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  1. Absolutely wonderful advice, Colette!  Really, really, REALLY great!  You suggest ideas that I have never thought of.  I particularly like the scavenger hunt!!! And dessert for breakfast!  Why not even have EACH parent give each child the gift of a one-on-one day of fun with just the two of them. Doing some very fun happy activity like going to a state park with a picnic or something?  Anyway, I just love this post, Colette and am going to share it immediately. I could help SO many parents right now!

  2. What great advice Colette.  I too love the idea of eating dessert for breakfast!  And, coupons for one-on-one time sound great too!!!!

  3. Colette, with your wonderful words of advice to that mom, you show what an awesome motivational speaker you are on the subject of speaking your truth!!  


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