Life in KC

Derek + Carrie: Make the holidays free with this brilliant trick

Christmas might as well be next week.

Can’t you already hear that song, you know the one …

“It’s Christmas in Kansas City. It’s Christmas in Kansas City.” (Repeat. For eternity.)

Bleeding ears aside, how are you planning to pay for all those extra holiday expenses?

Avoiding the holidays altogether never seems to work. There’s always a party to crash, a trip to take and gifts to buy.

The holidays used to be our ultimate budget-buster. Until now.

Enter this month’s money challenge …

Pay for all your holiday expenses by selling stuff you already own.

Let’s say you have $800 worth of partying, gift buying and traveling to do this year. Can you sell $800 worth of stuff this month and pay for it all with the cash?

Take a second to think about what you would sell. You’ve probably been meaning to sell a few things anyway. Now you have a good reason.

If you wouldn’t buy it again now, you should probably sell it.

Just because you used to be in a band doesn’t mean you should fill your spare bedroom with a PA system that could blow the roof off the Uptown.

If you wouldn’t buy it now, there’s no reason to hang on to it, especially if hundreds of dollars are locked away in a storage unit somewhere across town. Set that money free and use it for something that matters now. We’ve done this several times with all kinds of items, and we’ve never regretted it.

Actually do this.

You already know exactly what you would sell. So, sell it! Your entire holiday season could be paid for, making it feel “free.” Take the financial pressure off and still bring the most amazing gift to the office Dirty Santa party. $10 limit? Psh, watch me!

Do this every year.

Junk that you don’t need piles up slowly each year. What if you purged the garage each fall and used that money (and only that money) for holiday expenses? Doing so would essentially make your holiday spending zero. No more blowing the budget every December. And no more “paying off the holidays” the rest of the year.

Did we see you on “Hoarders”?

Get rid of as much stuff as you accumulate each year. Junk has a way of sneaking into your house when you aren’t looking. Next thing you know it’s growing, multiplying and taking over. You should be cleaning house anyway; the extra cash is just a bonus. And besides, we don’t want to lose you in a tragic junk-avalanche.

Happy holidays!

The Holiday Challenge:

Bust out the camera and prepare to crash the Craigslist server with your irresistible postings. And while you’re at it, sell that camera too. Here are some things you could sell:

Extra washer/dryer set

Musical equipment

10 of your 12 bikes

DVD, CD, tape, record collection

Camping equipment — you haven’t been camping in seven years!


Air Jordan’s collection

Bridesmaid dresses

Derek and Carrie Olsen are monthly money columnists for Ink challenging you to take a closer look at your finances. They’ve also written two best-selling books on the topic of personal finances. Find their books, blog, podcast and speaking schedule at