The Christmas season is truly the season of giving. There is no other time of the year when people’s hearts are as open or their hands are as freely generous as they are during the Christmas holiday. I mean, even our favorite Christmas motto states, “It is better to give than to receive.”
While giving does fill your heart with joy and help those who are less fortunate than us, many have taken this motto to extremes when it comes to buying Christmas presents for their children, spouses and other family members.
It is not uncommon for families to run up tremendous high-interest credit card debt to buy their children elaborate and expensive gifts such as computers, stereos and designer clothes as Christmas gifts.
Just take a look at the commercials that air constantly during the Christmas season. They all have one goal in mind: to motivate you to spend as much money as you can during the holidays.
I can remember one commercial in particular that advertised a leading high-end car manufacturer. The husband opened up his gift from his lovely wife to reveal a set of keys. When he went outside to look in the drive, there was a very expensive, sleek and seductive sports car. Seriously, who has been good enough all year to deserve a $50,000 luxury sports car? But the message is clear, give the very best. The same angle is used on men when it comes to buying expensive jewelry for their wives. It’s never ending.
Now, I’m not saying that advertisers are to blame for our ballooning Christmas debt. They are simply armed with the knowledge that more consumer spending takes place during the holidays, and they want a piece of the pie.
The fault then lies with our own inability to curb our holiday spending. It seems that even if we do not have the money to finance a lavish Christmas, we will still purchase one using our high-interest credit cards and worry about paying it off later. And worry we do.
If this scenario sounds familiar, it doesn’t have to be that way yet again this Christmas. You can take a few simple steps to alleviate Christmas debt altogether.
- Spread your holiday spending throughout the year. If you’re one of those people who love to lavish your family members with expensive gifts during the Christmas season and you don’t want to stop the practice, you can avoid a debt hangover by spreading your purchases throughout the year instead of all at once a few weeks before Christmas.
- Set a holiday budget. Decide what you can reasonably afford to spend during the holidays and do not go above that amount even if it means sacrificing gifts along the way.
- Buy only for those closest to you. Contrary to what you might believe, you do not need to buy gifts for all 27 of your nieces and nephews. Buy for those in your household first, and then, if you have any left over, buy for those closest to you. You should also avoid buying for everyone at work. Just because someone buys for you that does not mean that you need to return the favor. Simply send a Thank You card and remember to put them on your Christmas card list.
- Remember that the best gifts come from the heart and not the department store. Likely many in your family would enjoy spending more time with you during the holiday season instead of watching you run from store to store trying to find the perfect gifts. Why not opt to spend more time together this year and keep gift giving to a minimum?
- Homemade gifts mean more and are less expensive. Wouldn’t it warm your heart to know that your beloved Aunt or Grandma baked your favorite Christmas treat especially for you? You wouldn’t have to know that yours was just a sampling of a large batch that she also distributed to her beautician, neighbors and friends. It didn’t cost her much money, and it won’t cost you much either to do the same for your friends.
So, before you get caught up in the frenzy of Christmas consumer spending, take a moment to reflect on what is most important to you and your family during the holiday season.