Making the Holidays Affordable + a $300 Gift Card Giveaway |#HRBlockEA

Disclosure:  H&R Block has asked me to help promote the Emerald Advance Line of Credit. The prize was provided and may be shipped to the winner by H&R Block, but all opinions expressed in the post are my own and not those of H&R Block. Entrants must be 18 or older and located in the US only. Winner to be chosen at random.

Making the Holidays Affordable

The holidays are not always the most wonderful time of the year for families who are struggling. A bit of extra money CAN make a difference. H & R Block is offering an advance line of credit this season to make things a bit easier financially.

For us, even though big ticket items aren’t in our holiday plans, sometimes emergencies come up, especially with our new house. I would use an H & R Block Emerald Advance Line of Credit for setting some extra money aside for house emergencies, like when we realized a month ago that some of our wooden windowsills were rotten and needed repair. That wasn’t in our pre-holiday budget!

The Emerald Advance Line of Credit is just one way to help your family afford the holidays. Here are some of my easy tips for saving money during the holidays:

  • Buy or make gifts throughout the year; when I see something that I know a particular person would love, I purchase it and put it in my “Christmas box” for the holidays
  • I never spend money on gift wrap. Either I make my own reusable gift bags, use butcher paper from the kid’s art projects, or  simply use fabric and ribbon. It may be a small thing, but it saves a bit of money AND creates less waste.
  • Make a budget for each person at the beginning of the season and stick to it! I’m notorious for buying gifts early and then continuing to shop through December.  That’s not a good strategy. :)
  • Consider homemade gifts; they often cost less, and can become meaningful heirlooms

You can learn more about the H&R Block Emerald Advance Line of Credit  by following the #HRBlockEA hashtag on Twitter and Facebook, and here are some more details:

  • H&R Block will begin accepting applications in offices November 25th so set up your appointment today!
  • All you need to apply is an unexpired government-issued photo ID and your most recent pay stub (no W2 form required!)
  • You don’t already need to be an H&R Block client to apply
  •  The Emerald Advance is a line of credit you can draw from as you need it. You can use it year-round for unexpected expenses and other short-term credit needs.

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  1. Buy second hand toys!

  2. Homemade gifts can be super affordable and fun! My family always strives to make as many gifts as possible. This year my local parenting group is holding a “giftable” toy swap too! We are bringing our old toys and swapping for new ones. Littles are happy with “new to them” and we are all doing it all for free!

  3. For the past few years we give 1 bigger shared present for the 3 boys (purchased second hand on kijiji) and one small present each. We don’t give each other anything usually as we give each other presents throughout the year when it’s something we know the other person needs/wants.

  4. We budget for the holidays by planning ahead and doing our best to spread it all out over the year. We’ve also started to focus on experiences rather than stuff with regards to gifts for the children.

  5. We try to buy throughout the year as well as budget. I pick up stocking stuffers throughout the year and tuck them up out of the way in a diaper box on the top shelf of our linen closet. Buying things like new crayons and markers when school supplies are out-picking up coloring books at Michaels (that are $1.00). We also do not go “overboard” with Christmas. We buy 5-10 bigger gifts that the kids really want rather than spending a lot of money on little things to give them “more things”.

  6. buy gifts throughout the year if you can and set a budget -do not go over the budget

  7. Every year the adult family members draw names – that way we are able to spend more on one person to get them something nice rather than small things for everyone. Less stress too!

  8. Sticking to my food budget over the holidays is very hard so I make sure I’m stuffed before I go to the store for anything. That way I’m not tempted by all the candy and goodies they fill the isles with and just pick up what I need for groceries and stocking stuffers.

  9. Have a budget and stick to it. Also, be realistic… Kids do not need four presents from every person buying for them. Spend some time making your choice meaningful for that child and it will be a hit.

  10. Darla Shannon says:

    We shop at good will and other thrift stores.

  11. Buy things on sale throughout the year so it’s not all ganged up in December. Also shop at resale shops and estate sales for unique items that a person would really appreciate.

  12. This year we went shopping for our kids and moms in October and put everything on layaway. That way there is no rush to get it all done and the cost is spread out over a couple months. Everyone else is getting a food gift.

  13. We charge regular spending like bills, gas, and groceries and use the cash back bonus at Christmas!

  14. Darlene Sullins says:

    Best holiday budgeting tip I have is to celebrate the holidays a few days after they have arrived. Everything is much cheaper and on clearance.

  15. We have 5 kids so we really have to stick to a budget. My kids make their Santa/wish lists early and are only allowed to ask for 3 things- 1 big item, 2 smaller. We also get a family present that we can all enjoy. My family and I are all pretty crafty or artistic, so we often just make presents for each other. Thrift stores, seasonal clearance, and regular clearance are also great places to pick up unique items throughout the year.

  16. Scour sites like this one to find the best deals. Thanks.

  17. I do the same as you – purchase gifts through the year. It makes everything a lot less stressful! Most of my shopping is usually done by July :)

  18. Lisa Brown says:

    have a set amount to spend with a bit for overages, and shop sales

  19. I try to look for presents all year, so I can save money, and also avoid the holiday stress.

  20. Julie Wood says:

    My Holiday Budget Tip is to make sure to look for gift items throughout the year. I have found really good deals on gifts for my family during the months before the big day and this keeps me from going in debt.

  21. Set a budget and stick to it. If the item is a dollar or two over budget then don’t get it unless you account for it elsewhere in your budget.

  22. If i want to buy a big present for a love one, i ask family members to go in on it with me. its a big money saver for all of us

  23. steve weber says:

    take advantage of black friday deals and free shipping!

  24. Buy though out the year when things are clearenced.

  25. Buy throughout the year (especially end-of-season sales and after other holiday sales end) for gifts at Christmas time and birthdays. I save a bundle!!

  26. I do the DIY gift thing all year… xmas especially! :)

  27. Alexis Palomar says:

    Use Craigslist, but be safe. If you know how to work Craigslist you can find AMAZING DEALS!

  28. My best tip is that before you shop, check online to see if there are any percentage off coupons for the stores you are going to.

  29. Give food and experiences, not stuff.

  30. I buy all year when things are on sale. It helps spread the cost out.

  31. Shop all year when great deals come along and you won’t be scrambling in November and December to pay for Christmas.

  32. keep a list of stuff you’d love to get someone, and shop all year long. that way the money isn’t all spent during the same month, and often, the best sales on certain things aren’t around november/december.

  33. Heather Baker says:

    Make a list and don’t buy anything not on it and don’t use cash.

  34. I set a spending limit and do comparison-shopping.

  35. Noelle Cagle says:

    I try to win gift cards (wink) to give as gifts or buy gifts with. =)

  36. Shop thrift stores and consignment stores for gifts.

  37. Jennifer Rote says:

    Pre-plan and shop the sales.

  38. Danielle Porter says:

    Shop around and start early!!! Also you need to set a limit for each person and when that limit is reached wrap up the presents and stop!

  39. Mary Happymommy says:

    I write out a shopping list months in advance and search for weeks and weeks looking for the lowest prices on those items.

  40. Amy Heffernan says:

    I always reuse bags and paper along with bows. :)

  41. Take advantage of online shopping and coupon codes–especially if they have free shipping or store pickup!

  42. I make a lot of our gifts, and buy wrapping paper at thrift shops or after Christmas for the next year – or even better, reuse gift bags.

  43. make handmade gifts!

  44. Colleen Boudreau says:

    Always look online for coupons or compare prices with other stores before you buy anything.

  45. My tip is to shop for gifts on sales and use coupons

  46. Shop early – you tend to get more of what you want for someone and tend to spend less when you shop early.

  47. Best tip is to not impulse buy!!

  48. Jennifer Marie says:

    I always hop around to try and find the best deals around.

  49. alicia k (Petite Pilates Pixie) says:

    create a list including amount for each person and DON’T go over it!!!

  50. BlackAsphodel says:

    Buy presents over the year whenever you find them on sale and try to win some giveaways. :p

    My e-mail: blackasphodel(at)yahoo(dot)com

  51. Jessica To says:

    My only tip is to start shopping early. It saves time, money and stress!

  52. Darlene Carbajal says:

    Look for the best deals and use coupons!

  53. pay with cash leave your cards at home

  54. Amanda Sakovitz says:

    my tip is to use only gift cards to go shopping and set spending limits for yourself.

  55. Gabrielle Marshall says:

    My best tip is don’t buy what you can’t afford! There is no sense is going in debt and winding up trying to pay off Christmas for the whole next year before starting the whole ordeal again! Buying material things is no indication of your love for someone, and it’s sad that society has marketed Christmas to make so many people think that it does.

  56. Buying and paying with cash is always the best way to go! Making home made gifts//gifts from the heart is another way to make the Holidays affordable.

  57. Use Giftcards to keep from overspending and also save up and buy certain gifts all through the year for the holidays.

  58. We don’t do many gifts, and instead choose to focus on enjoying being together.

  59. I buy Cmas gifts throughout the year so i’m not spending a million dollars in one month :)

  60. buy things on sale, keep a budget , stick to it!

  61. My best budget tip is to make a plan and try to shop sales

  62. I always set my budget for each “level” of gifts I am giving and give great handmade gifts to people like work acquaintances, keeping the budget low but the meaning and the customization level high for everyone!

  63. Mt tip is to buy gifts throughout the year.

  64. Traver Freeman (Sweeps Frees) says:

    I use Amazon Lightning Deals, Ebay, and Black Friday sales to get great Christmas items at cheap prices.

  65. Thomas Murphy says:

    I shop the sales and use coupons to save money.

  66. Budget out what you plan on spending for Christmas and break it down over 12 months and put that amount in savings. Factor in Holiday meals and travel.

  67. Stick to your shopping list!

  68. Use envelopes to track cash spending and get rid of credit cards where possible.

  69. jeanette sheets says:

    defintley be on a budget ,dont over spend or go in debt for items u know u cant afford ,always try to hunt the best bargains

  70. Making a list of gifts and price and put them in an envelope.

  71. shopping the day after thanksgiving, shopping on clearance racks and using coupons

  72. soha molina says:

    I use coupons.

  73. Compare prices online and stick to your budget

  74. Brandy Davis says:

    Budget and hit the sales. We try to shop year round but it isn’t always possible.

  75. Kelly Nicholson says:

    Leave a comment with your best holiday budgeting tip.

    hide your wallet in your sock

  76. Stick to your shopping list!

  77. Whenever I am shopping whether it be on-line or at the store, when I see something on sale and I think someone in the family would like it , I buy it. It might be for Christmas or a birthday. It’s so much easier then cramming gift buying in December.

  78. my tip is to shop online and compare prices, there are way more deals.

  79. Get your coupons ready before you shop so you aren’t scrambling at the store. That is especially hard when its busy! Been there done that!

  80. shop online before hand, so you know what prices SHOULD be before you hit the store sales, helps to reduce the impulse buys!

  81. i look for sales

  82. If you like to cook, people love homemade goodies. In my opinion it shows that the gift was made with love!! That is just one of many ways to save.

  83. Cathy Shaw says:

    My holiday budgeting tip is to not get carried away and make impulse purchases. Keep to your giving list and take advantage of coupons, sales, and rebates.

  84. Tari Lawson says:

    Shop year round so you don’t have to put out so much all at once.

  85. I’ve found it very helpful to use prepaid credit cards/gift cards with set amounts so I don’t overspend when I’m out at the stores! That also helps me avoid the temptation to splurge and buy gifts for myself as well.

  86. My tip is to set a reasonable budget ahead of time and stick to it.

  87. Shop for the holidays all through the year, stashing away clearance finds and great sale deals to save yourself from burning a hole in your pocket later!

  88. Rita Leonard says:

    everyone loves homemade chocolates and chocolate covered pretzels

  89. Adrianne B says:

    My best holiday budgeting tip is to being shopping early…like the day after Christmas!

  90. barbara corbitt says:

    leave credit and debit cards at home. take a certain amount of cash and divide that amount among the people/pets that you are buying for.

  91. Margaret Smith says:

    I make a list of potential gift ideas and compare prices through store ads and online.

  92. Buy gifts online from major retailers like Amazon! That way, you can see reviews and deals all in one place. And, the lowest prices are usually online. :)

  93. Spend the same amount on everyone so that you dont get a surprise after you are doing buying everything. You should already know your budget and be able to stay close to it doing it this way

  94. Beth Gallinger says:

    I keep a spreadsheet of what gifts I’ve already bought and who they’re for.

  95. Allow a little wiggle room for unexpected fees or purchases.

  96. Buy less gifts with more meaning and thought…less money spent, more love given.

  97. Kim Henrichs says:

    Take advantage of the super sales online. This year so much of what you can get for doorbusters you can get right from your own home and save on gas (and stress!)

  98. Cindi Decker says:

    I buy gifts throughout the year when I see a good deal on something.

  99. John Leahy says:

    My holiday budget tip is to set a dollar amount for spending — and then try to undershoot it by 5%

  100. BECKY EVANS says:

    My Budgeting Tip is just buy what you need and have everyone bring a dish.

  101. Instead of buying gifts, buy group tickets to an event (a play, sports, symphony, etc.) and go together.

  102. I handmake a lot of my Christmas presents.

  103. I make a budget and stick to it

  104. Christina Ferguson says:

    No Impulse Shopping! I make a budget and a list of what I “need” and stick to it whther it is food, decor or gifts. It is difficult sometimes but worth it come January and my mailbox isn’t filled with bills.

  105. alyce poalillo says:

    Always shop with a list and an amount for each person you need to buy for. Do your homework and research for the best price ahead of time.

  106. Kelley Galyen says:

    We draw names with a set limit on the amount to be spent.

  107. Susan Christy says:

    I don’t buy anything I can’t afford. If I think I need to put it on a credit card, it’s time for a change of plans!

  108. Kimberly Kihega says:

    I always try to search for the best deal and use coupons. I also use Ebates when I shop online.

  109. Buy stuff when they are on sale. Sometimes I buy things very early to give for Christmas.

  110. Mary Cloud says:

    I try to catch toy clearance sales all through the year to pick up toys and put up for Christmas
    annabella @ centurytel dot net

  111. My best tip is to use coupons where possible and set a budget for each family member

  112. april yedinak says:

    My best holiday budgeting tip is to remember what Christmas is really about and not to go overboard. I also make sure to use coupon codes and cash back sites when I shop online. For instance, today I got 2 pairs of riding boots for my daughter and after sale price, coupon codes, rewards and cash back, I will be OOP $23. A savings of $57.

  113. Amy Pullifrone says:

    I like to have a set amount and I use only cash.

  114. Melissa B. says:

    My budgeting tip would be to take cash with you when you go Christmas shopping. It’s too tempting to go over budget if everything’s going on a credit card.

  115. Claire Rheinheimer says:

    I try to watch sales year round- if we find a clearance toy or something that would make a good stocking stuffer that’s super cheap we buy it. I got my son and nephew some super cheap stocking stuffers when the little summer stuff went on clearance!

  116. Ellen Anderson says:

    Actually stick to the budget you create… don’t give in to temptation!!!

  117. Shop for Christmas gifts in the summer when prices are lower!

  118. Christine Waddell says:

    Shop the sales and don’t over spend.

  119. Don’t wait until the last minute to do your shopping. If you buy things over the entire year you’ll be able to take advantage of the best sales!

  120. laurajacobson says:

    Oh my tip would be to start early so it doesnt hit your budget all at once.

  121. David Smith says:

    Keep an eye out for sales all year and when you see something that is a great price and would make a good Christmas present for someone, buy it then. The only drawback is keeping it hidden from now until Christmas 😉

  122. Katie Contests says:

    Make a list and stick to it! Also, check stores’ policies for price adjustments or price matching.

  123. wild orchid says:

    My tip is to set a budget ahead of time and constantly watch for sales on items you want to purchase.

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 AT gmail DOT com

  124. Have a list and stick to it. I try not to just buy something because its a good deal.

  125. gift giving for large families, pick names from a hat at thanksgiving

  126. Shop when things are on sale and use coupons!

  127. Kellie Christensen says:

    Plan ahead. What is your budget?

  128. buy thru the year but save back a bit of the budget for the black friday online deals

  129. Amy Bostic says:

    I try to buy gifts throughout the year instead of waiting till the last minute. Great sales happy more often than just at the Holidays.

  130. My best tip is to do the majority of shopping at once. I spend more money overall if my shopping is spread out, I’m more likely to stick a budget when I do it all at once


  131. use price matching to your advantage and have a list ready

  132. Best tip is give the kids a limit and go from there, also do a gift exchange with the adults

  133. Drawing names for big family presents instead of getting every single person a gift!

  134. buy gifts all year roun

  135. Debbie Jackson says:

    Shop sales.

  136. Tabathia B says:

    I usually start shopping when stores start offering big discounts, I stay on a set budget and take advantage of black friday deals and try to shop online through ebates

  137. Use cash back sites, and shop sales!

  138. My best tip is that you should make a listed budget for each person you are shopping for. It’s easy to spend too much on a person and then feel you have to buy more for others to make it even. Before you know it you’re way over budget

  139. amy pugmire says:

    I actually like to shop all year round when I see a good sale so I don’t spend much money the last month.

  140. Jessica Hellfritsch says:

    Thrift stores! (As long as it’s in good condition!)

  141. Christina Howell says:

    Shop throughout the year! This prevents huge credit card bills right after the holidays. Also, set a price amount that you won’t go over.

  142. Pam Gurganus says:

    My best holiday budgeting tip is really just common sense yet something a lot of people don’t heed….don’t spend more than you have!

  143. I like prepaid cards. Send the family members out with them to go shopping.

  144. Priscilla S. says:

    Staying organized helps you to stay on budget. Having an organized list of who you need to buy gifts for, what you would like to get and what your budget is for each person ensures you don’t miss anything, don’t go over budget and it’s the best way to dive into all the many black friday/cyber monday sales.

  145. Sonya Morris says:

    Shop online for sales and make a list before you go shopping.

  146. Wendy Pence says:

    I do about 80% of my shopping on Black Friday, when the prices are very discounted. I always get great deals!

  147. michelle riebeek says:

    Save ahead of time. Know you don’t have to give alot!

  148. Heather Hayes Panjon says:

    Set A Budget, Make A List, Research Sales To Find The Best Prices, Use Coupons And Loyalty Reward Points To Maximize Budget!

  149. wendy rozema says:

    my best budgeting tip is to make a budget and stay on that budget by looking for items to go on sale or if there’s a coupon to use that!

  150. shop online with sales

    kport207 at gmail dot com

  151. Lynda Thomas says:

    I buy gifts throughout the year when things are sale and save them for Christmas! :)

  152. Holly Storm-Burge says:

    I make a list of people we need to buy for and a total amount we can spend. I then allot an amount for each person and buy according to the list. It really helps me not to go over or to double-gift.

  153. Tammy Dalley says:

    Start shopping early , youll get better deals all through the year!

  154. Kimberly Frazee says:

    I start shopping in July and that’s not a lie lol, Ive been wrapping here and there for a month or more so that I get it all done before Christmas and it isn’t a rush to beable to make cookies an enjoy the reason for the season ya know.

  155. golden storm says:

    buying as new items online for Christmas gifts

  156. this is a generous amount that will buy a lot of gifts for the grandkids. I will be looking for the electronics this year.

  157. I make a spreadsheet with my hubby in Fall for Xmas with what we want to spend on everyone, and a list. I also craft quite a few gifts – knitting, baking, making bath/beauty items and jewelry, sewing, and painting – to save money.

  158. Seyma Shabbir says:

    Make a list of all the people you want to buy gifts for and plan what gifts to buy and estimated cost for each.

  159. I make a list of things I want to buy and go shopping on Black Friday.

  160. Browse deals online; takes a lotta time but worth it!

  161. Making a list with a budget for each person!

  162. Audra O'Hara says:

    My best tip is to shop the sales, both in stores and online, but make sure you have a list of ideas first for each person.

  163. buy things within the WEAR NEED READ WANT spectrum. Instead of buying all want items.

  164. Get shopping done early!

  165. Patricia Wojnar Crowley says:

    I think it’s important to save all year, so the hit to your budget isn’t so painful. Also, stick to a list!

  166. Make a list before shopping, then check things off so you don’t lose track of what you have bought. Especially is you start early in the year.

  167. Set an amount for next year right after Christmas.
    Spare change goes into the “gift jar” & a set amount goes into an envelope each week. If I find bargains during the year I put the receipts in the big envelope to keep track of what is spent.

  168. Katherine says:

    I have a budget by try to stretch it by finding great deals

  169. Set a budget for your entire gift spend

  170. Shop throughout the year

  171. Thrift stores are a great way to stock up on recyclables like baskets or gift bags for gift giving.
    You save on wrapping paper and can fill with edibles or drinkables that can also be re-gifted if the person would wish to pay it forward or pass along. Homemade gives everything a more peronal touch! Be imaginative, check out Pinterest for wonderful creative ideas!

  172. My best tip is to make lists. I make a bunch of lists, all on one page: Gifts for our five kids and my husband, mother, and relatives, groceries, decor items, places to go, events to attend, etc. All on one page. When I can see it all at a glance I can stick to my budget so much easier.

  173. i shop out of season/right after dec 25th for the next year! christmas gift wrap magically becomes pennies a roll at midnight.

  174. I plan ahead of time for things like food, beverages, gifts. For example, if I know that good wine will be on sale in the fall, I stock up to use it during the holidays. Or at the end of the summer I know school supplies will be on sale, so I buy those to give away as presents to my nieces and nephews during Christmas. That way I am not strained and running in ten different directions by the time Thanksgiving and Christmas are here but I’m actually ready for them.

  175. Make a list, keep a budget and scour the web for deals!

  176. Use coupons, search sale ads, and make lists. Don’t stray from your list, and don’t get distracted!

  177. I sit down before I shop and make a list of who I need to buy for, and how much I can spend on each one – then I stick to it!

  178. Shop year round for good deals, look out for coupons and clearance.

  179. L Peterson says:

    Would sure be a huge Christmas blessing to win!

  180. Tracy Robertson says:

    I always get the stuff like wrapping paper, gift tags and Christmas cards on clearance after Christmas and save it for the next year.

  181. sara haaf says:

    Don’t buy on credit!!

  182. I try to spend the same on everyone

  183. I try to shop ahead. By Oct/Nov I have stuff stashed away

  184. second hand toys!

  185. I love making homemade gifts!

  186. Jessica H. says:

    I buy gifts throughout the year so there is not one big bill at the end of the year. Thank you for the wonderful giveaway!

  187. Plan ahead!!!

  188. Brandi Price says:

    Set a spending limit for each person and stick to it!

  189. Katie Younkin says:

    Buy for just the kids in the family.

  190. Carolyn S says:

    My best advice to is make a list and set amount for each person and to cut back your list. Don’t feel obligated to purchase for everybody!

  191. Jennifer Speed says:

    Buy items on sale and only buy things that ypu absolutely need

  192. My best tip is this: If you buy online, look for coupon codes! I have saved hundreds of dollars by doing this.

  193. Amanda Baldwin says:

    We have a Christmas account we put a little into each month

  194. Katie Bellamy says:

    I do my research online and always look for coupon codes. Subscribe to their email & companies usually send out % off coupons!

  195. I buy gifts throughout the year, especially the month following Christmas, and I squirrel them away until Christmas. When Christmastime arrives I’m halfway done with my shopping, no Black Friday shopping necessary!

  196. I make a list and stick to it

  197. Always make a list and a budget and bring it with to the store, check for coupons, groupons, and discount codes before you leave the house!

  198. Hi. Have you chosen a winner yet? I’ve been checking the rafflecopter. And just wondering if I can stop crossing my toes and fingers. :-)


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