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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

One Crisis Away At The Holidays: A Tale Of Two Shoppers Surviving The Holidays

Courtney Collins
Tosha and her daughter Danielle shop for holiday gifts at Old Navy in Arlington.

For many people, the holidays mean hitting the stores, scouring the internet and for some of us, setting a budget. With that pressure to buy comes stress for folks living on the financial edge.According toWalletHub, one-third of Americans have already overspent.

As part of KERA’s series One Crisis Away at the Holidays, we meet two shoppers making tough decisions at the register.

You see it a lot this time of year, huge markdowns and deep discounts. The Old Navy in Arlington is boasting 50 percent off everything in the store. The winding checkout line proves the sale is working.

A Shopping Strategy

Tosha Hightower’s wants to put big dent in her Christmas list. Her sister has nine kids; that’s a lot of nieces and nephews to shop for.

She’s a postmaster in Venus, Texas, a town of 3,000, a half hour south of Arlington. Her 20-year-old daughter Danielle tagged along for today’s shopping adventure. Their goal is to get each niece and nephew a small present to go inside Tosha’s famous “Gift Box.”

“It just made it more fun, so when I did it one year, they were just all excited,” Tosha says.

A Festive, Financially-Wise Tradition

“The Box” has been a Christmas staple for five years now. Tosha always labels one thing for each child, like a scarf or a t-shirt. Then, she adds in small toys, treats, even toiletries and lets the kids claim their spoils.

“You pick out girl toys and you pick out boy toys and then you just put them in the box and then when they dig in they pick whatever they come up with first,” says Tosha.

This approach to gift-giving is a huge hit with her family. She started the tradition because she was newly divorced and couldn’t afford a big present for each child.

“From two to one income, you can’t do what you used to do. And that’s how it really got started,” says says.

Learn more about how Tosha and other shoppers approach the holiday season by exploring KERA’s series One Crisis Away at the Holidays.

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.