'Christmas Crunch' series: Part 1

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - The holidays are virtually here. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are expected to spend more for them this year than last. However, is it possible to have fun during this festive time of year and still be frugal? Some locals say, "Yes." In fact, in part of one of a special series about this issue Newscenter 11 is talking with some locals about how they are handling a "Christmas Crunch."

The holidays, with their lights, festive decor, food and shopping galore, it's a time when some almost break the bank. The good news is that you don't have to, and that's the goal of some.

Mae Boyd of Kemper County is one of those. A few months ago she told her two children that the holidays will be different this year.

"This year I'm teaching my kids about the importance of sharing tokens of love rather than receiving gifts," says Boyd. "My son, he was okay with it at first, and my daughter, she was sad."

"I felt sad at first because I thought that I wasn't going to get any presents," says Boyd's 8-year-old daughter, Kennedy, "but when she explained it to me I got better because I want to give toys for children that are in need."

Erica McDonald and her family are also doing things differently.

"We are trying to use our money more wisely," says McDonald. "My family and I are actually going to take a trip together. We just want to spend time together instead of on things that don't really mean that much to anybody."

For Erica, she says a shift in priorities and money management is not only something that she and her husband are doing for the holidays
but throughout the year.

"I'm trying not to have debt," says McDonald. "Not to owe people, that's our goal. We give our money a name now. There's not a dollar that we just spend on whatever. Each dollar has a specific purpose. So, we know where it goes."

The million dollar question is, whether the McDonald's strategy is working?

"It's a work in progress," says Erica. "We are hoping to do better each month as it become a habit."

According to the National Retail Federation, consumer spending for the holidays this year is expected to increase by almost 4%. In total, people are expected to spend almost $680 billion this year for the holidays. Almost $656 billion was spent last year during this time.
Tune in Thursday night on Newscenter 11 when we talk with a financial expert, and a local mom who's also on a mission to be frugal and still have fun for the holidays!