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4 Tips To Secure The Bag So You Don’t Go Broke This Holiday Season

Finance

Even though it feels like January was two days ago, it's now less than two months away; which means the holiday season has crept up on us once again. I can admit that I'm a sucker for Christmas carols, Black Friday shopping, and all things holiday spirit.


But somewhere in between is the temptation and pressure to splurge on new holiday clothes (especially for NYE, okay?!) while still making sure I buy the best of the best gifts for other people.

It's no secret the holiday season is when we really open our wallets and have the "take all my money" spirit more than any other part of the year. But when January 1st hits, our bank accounts are looking at us like we're crazy. Over these past few years of adulting, I've found a balance between being able to save my beloved coins and still spend plenty money like Plies.

1. Under The Christmas Influence.

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One of the most recent lessons I've learned is to not give in to the pressure. I feel like I'm always bringing up the power of social media, but in all honesty, sometimes it adds pressure to go in on gifts for some type of acknowledgement in return. Getting married last year was even more pressure as me and my husband experienced so many firsts together, including our first Christmas. But we made it clear we weren't going to give in to the pressure of trying to show people how much we love each other with gifts. We knew that saving and making sure our home life was intact was what was really important, so we made a deal we wouldn't give each other, or anyone else, any gifts that cost more than $20 per person. Lemme say, $20 goes a long way boo.

Ultimately, if you can just set a budget and a limit to how much you want to spend, you could save so much money and not go overboard only to regret it all when the holiday cheer dies down (because we all know it will).

2. The Who’s Who Of The Christmas List.

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Remember when we were younger (oh the good old days!) and we made a Christmas list of people we wanted to shop for? That list would go on for days! But now that we finally reached that grown level status that we couldn't wait to get to, that list can definitely get Kevin Hart short now. As much as we want to be able to ball out on all of our family and friends, I was one of those people who had to come to terms with just not having the capacity to do that right now. One day, I'll be able to fill their stocking with amazing stuffers that will leave them in awe. But for now, it's okay if your list of Christmas gifts is super short, or it doesn't exist at all.

To be completely transparent, thanks to a major life transition of moving halfway across the country without completely knowing the future, I don't know if anybody will make it on the list this year. And we have to be okay with factors like that. I don't want to go as far as saying, "That's not what Christmas is about anyway… Jesus is the reason for the season." because as true as that can be, it doesn't change the fact that simply being wise in financial decisions, especially around Christmas, even if that means making sacrifices, is what can help secure the bag before the New Year.

3. Get Some Gifts For The Free Free.

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I'm not saying to not spend any money around Christmas. For some of us, that's just unrealistic. But what we can do is get creative for some of the gifts, so we don't have to spend as much money. Whether you want to channel your inner 10-year-old self and give a coupon book like you did for Mother's Day back in the day or making a recipe book for someone who loves to cook, there are actually some really cute free gift ideas out there. And if you put in enough effort, it can be better than a gift you would've paid for.

The holiday season is also the perfect time to cash in on shopper rewards from retailers, grocery stores and credit cards. It might cause for some serious life hacking, but you might be surprised the great things you can get without spending one single coin.

4. The Power Of The Re-Gift.

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Before I go any further, thank you in advance for not judging. But also know I'll never steer you wrong. When it comes to giving gifts, you and I both know that there could be all kinds of gems in your home that someone once gave you that you have yet to use; some of it might even still have the tags on it. Don't be ashamed to give this to someone else who might actually use it. As long as it doesn't look all raggedy, and they can't look at it and tell that you're trying to pull the 're-gift okie doke', this could be another major win for you to save money during the holiday season.

There have been times when I've re-gifted small things, from a mug I never used to a bag that I really didn't want to part ways with and was saving for a special occasion. But ultimately, it's sacrifices like this that really make the holiday season complete. So secure the bag and get creative to make sure you don't go broke this holiday season.

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Featured image by Getty Images

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

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