Broke For the Holidays: 'Gifting' Your Time and Services

It goes without saying that buying holiday gifts for everyone on your list can add up... really fast. And this season, you're probably feeling even more pinched. If you have credit card debt and are concerned about losing your job or even your home, you've probably already cut back. Why rack up more debt buying holiday gifts?

This year, a lot of people are in the same boat so it's time to get creative: How about giving the gift of your time or services to family and friends?

For example, give elderly relatives who live nearby a gift certficate for a homecooked meal or two, assistance with a time-consuming or otherwise overwhelming (at least to them) domestic chore like cleaning out the garage, offer to wash their car or give lessons in how to use a computer and the Internet. For friends and family with kids, offer your babysitting services; it could be a one-time only offer or a series of three childcare sessions spread throughout the year. If you both have kids, do an "even" swap and call it the gift of childcare.