Gee whiz, it’s Christmas! Yes, Christmas is almost here and most of us are busy buying gifts for those on our lists. Excitement fills the air as some of us who have not given a gift all year (it’s been a tough year) are now scrambling to find something to give to those we hold dear and to those in need. Luckily for some of us, we saved some money during the year for Christmas shopping. However, for others it is not quite so. In fact, many will be using a credit card to get the gifts for all those people on their lists.
While giving at Christmas is great, Christmas giving out of debt is not. Why should one put him/herself into debt to give a gift to a relative, friend or neighbor? “Well, it seems like the right thing to do,” someone may add. Really? Tell me: do you have pure joy as you scurry about trying to buy what you cannot afford, because you want to make someone happy? Just as I thought. Some of you are feeling pure stress. For others, it’s just total stress. Do not misunderstand me. I want you to give (“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”) What I do not believe you should do is to put yourself into debt to give.
Do you think that is what Christmas giving is about?
Listen, I understand. For several years, my wife and I saved for Christmas, made a list and went shopping near Christmas time (my wife generally does the shopping – God bless her!) What we normally found was that there was never enough money to buy all the gifts we wanted, so we blew our budget and used a credit card to cover the shortfall. Thankfully, we did not go way over and were usually able to pay off the bill in short order. Even with that plan, we always felt guilty in the end that there was someone to whom we did not give something.
That was then. While we still feel somewhat guilty that we cannot give a gift to everyone we would like, we have changed our approach to Christmas shopping. We still save for Christmas and make a list. Also, we still use a credit card, but only to cover an amount that we will pay off by the end of the month or by January (generally, credit card gifts are for us). After we have exhausted our funds, we just stop. This is less stressful. Yes! We have seen the light!
Here is the crunch. Christmas giving should never cause one stress – stress to find the presents, Yes, but no stress in finding the money to spend. The rule of thumb is to spend what you have and when that runs out, STOP!
I have come to the conclusion that if we stress about buying a gift for someone – to the point of going into debt – it could mean that we are concerned about how that person sees us. “She will think I am mean if I do not give her a gift.” Really? If that is your reason for giving a gift, you should stop. Fact – If someone likes you only because you give him/her gifts, mark that person.
Christmas giving should come from a pure and honest heart. Give what you can afford and whatever will make you joyful in the end. When the funds run out, call someone, send a card or even a musical e-card. Just let the person know how much you appreciate him/her, and then wish that person a Merry Christmas.
Christmas giving out of debt is just plain wrong. Do not start the new year sitting on a pile of debt and stressing about how you will pay the bill.
Tips for Christmas Giving :
1. Save a little money for Christmas every month;
2. Make a list of those you would like to give a gift;
3. For families with children, buy gifts for the children only, unless you do not have many people to shop for and can afford gifts for the parents;
4. Add some elderly people (not relatives) to your Christmas list;
5. Buy gifts for people who cannot afford to buy you a gift;
6. Search for bargains online to minimize the cost per gift;
7. Stick to your budget;
8. When your money runs out, STOP;
9. Practice calling loved ones during the year to avoid feeling guilty about sending them a gift at Christmas;
10. Practice sending more cards and making calls at Christmas and throughout the year; and,
11. As much as is possible, be nice to the people around you all year long.