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All I want for Christmas is a gift of a student loan payment

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(Photo from Flickr user thisisbossi used under Creative Commons license)

A lot of folks have come a long way from the simplicity of their holiday wish list captured in the song “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth.”

Now an increasing number of Americans, mired in student loan debt, just want a gift of a student loan payment.

The Student Loan Report, a website that covers student loan news, asked 1,000 borrowers: “If you had the choice this year, would you rather receive a gift this holiday season or an equally valued payment toward your student loans?”

Nearly 70 percent of survey respondents would indeed prefer the generosity of a loan payment made on his or her behalf.

Poll participants were also asked: “If you receive money as a gift this holiday season, are you planning to use the money to make a payment toward your student loan debt?”

A majority of the folks (nearly 59 percent) said they would put the money toward their debt.

It’s a good thing that so many people, when given cash, would make extra loan payments. A New York Times report found that 20 states suspend people’s professional or driver’s licenses if they fall behind on loan payments.

“Few people realize that the loans they take out to pay for their education could eventually derail their careers,” the New York Times reported. “But in 19 states, government agencies can seize state-issued professional licenses from residents who default on their educational debts. Another state, South Dakota, suspends driver’s licenses, making it nearly impossible for people to get to work. As debt levels rise, creditors are taking increasingly tough actions to chase people who fall behind on student loans. Going after professional licenses stands out as especially punitive.”

If you’ve got student loans here’s some holiday reading for you.

The Unexpected Ways Student Loans Affect Holiday Shopping

Forty percent of those with student loans have considered not making a loan payment during the holidays, according to a survey by Student Loan Hero. Don’t you dare do this.

I can’t imagine anyone on your Christmas list would want you to hurt your credit history by skipping a loan payment.

How to Holiday Shop When You Have Student Loan Debt

“Many of today’s millennials are burdened by heavy student loan debt that can lead to emotional and financial stress over the holiday shopping season,” Credit.com reported.

Give the Gift of a Student Loan Payment (but watch for roadblocks)

If you decide to give a gift of a student loan payment, you may not be able to surprise the recipient. Many loan servicers are not set up to accept direct payments from anyone other than the borrower. But this article from U.S. News and World Report provides three tips to help someone move a little closer to becoming free from education debt. For example, the borrower may be able to make you an authorized payer.

Color of Money question of the week
Has your ability to earn a living been affected because you’re behind on your student loan payments? Send your comments to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Put “Student Loans” in the subject line. Please include your name, city and state.

Live chat today
This week’s live chat is about one of my new favorite books, “Dollars and Sense: How We Misthink Money and How to Spend Smarter.” It was the Color of Money Book Club selection for last month. Jeff Kreisler, one of the co-authors, will join me to take your questions.

Here’s the review: Your spending problem is all in your head — here’s why

Let’s talk about whether you have good sense about your dollars. Click this link to join the conversation next week.

Do you stress spend?
A lot of people use shopping, especially during the holidays, to cope with stress, according to a survey by Credit Karma.

More than half of the 1,000 consumers polled by Credit Karma said they have impulsively shopped to deal with feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.

Last week I asked: Do you stress spend during the holiday?

Patricia from San Bernardino, Calif., wrote, “Stress spending is a year-round problem for me, especially at the holidays. My husband and I live across the country from our family and have no children of our own. Our parents have passed on and we no longer exchange gifts with siblings, so I end up buying myself gifts to make myself feel better during the holidays. I also spend way too much on what should be token gifts for co-workers and friends. Every year I tell myself I won’t do it again this year, but I do — every year.”

Kelli of Chicago wrote, “I don’t like to spend money, much to the dismay of my son, but when I do, it’s based on need. I use the holiday shopping season to get deals on things I’ve put on a list that I will need in the future. Then if I see it for a great price (because I’ve been looking at prices all year), I’ll buy it. Every once in a while I’ll buy something cool for me because most of my purchases are for my son. He and my mom are always amazed at how I can get what I want without spending a ton of money.”

From CreditCards.com, a report on a poll that shows more than a third will spend less than $50 on their priciest gift. It’s the thought that counts: Americans plan holiday gift thrift

Color of Money Columns This Week
Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power. Stay informed about your money.

In addition to this newsletter, read and share my weekly personal finance columns.

Being debt-free for the holidays is a feeling you can’t buy in a store

Why don’t women talk about harassment? They are afraid to lose their jobs.

Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to colorofmoney@washpost.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.

Follow Michelle Singletary on Twitter @SingletaryM and on Facebook.

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