… and I’ve been bracing myself. Not for the reason (I love that part), but because it has become an excuse to overspend in the name of giving gifts.

It’s easy to get sucked into it. We want family and friends to know how much we love them. What better way than to spend lots of money! Actually, there is a much better way, for this season and the rest of the year, too. It’s not about being cheap. Think frugal instead.

Clare Levison can help.

She’s a CPA and serves on the AICPA’s Financial Literacy Commission, so she understands this stuff.

Knowing and doing are two different things, and we all know sometimes the shoemaker has no shoes. Not Clare. She’s a wife, mom to two young girls, and an author of a new book Frugal Isn’t Cheap: Spend Less, Save More and Live BETTER Who doesn’t want to do that? Well, maybe not the “spend less” part, at least not this time of year. Is that an excuse I hear? Keep reading.

Clare’s book is easy to read and full of practical advice that doesn’t suggest you cut up your credit cards or give up the things you enjoy, like giving gifts.

Instead, she shares everything you always wanted to know about how to make your money work for you in a sweet, southern style you can’t put down. Clare tells it to you straight, too – no sugar coating. Her principle is KISH – Keep It Simple, Honey (remember, she’s from the south). She makes hard things simple, like getting out of debt, making large purchases work, creating an investment plan, and figuring out your real net worth (and why you should care about it).

One thing (there are many) I really like that Clare says in her book is this: “You aren’t what you own.” And the gifts you give this season won’t make your family and friends love you more. Not to sound sappy, but how about gifts from the heart and not the wallet? Think thoughtful memories wrapped in pretty packages, not costly transactions that might mean you’re paying for months into the new year, or even more years ahead.

One other thing Clare says that relates directly to the AICPA’s new Ad Council public service announcements, “Flashiness fades, but broke is forever.” Amen.

Here’s a taste of the new PSA campaign:


So who is with me this season?

By the way, her book would make a thoughtful (and frugal) gift that keeps on giving, with dividends. Buy one for yourself too, and make a resolution to celebrate in a new way the real reason for the season.

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