Writerly Rant #15
Nothing says Happy New Year like your Christmas Credit Card Statement. Every year the Holiday Season seems to be getting longer and longer – in fact, stores in my area were playing Christmas music before Remembrance Day. Consumerism is pushing a holiday built around peace and love into buy and sell – debt and debt management.
Uncle Sam is enticing us to spend, spend, spend and really, when you can buy six for the price of four (even when you only need one) it’s a deal not to be passed up. Impulse-purchasing accounts for more than half of all families blowing their budget during the discounted shopping season leading up to Christmas week.
And what is ‘Christmas Week?’ I blame it on the composer for the 12 Days of Christmas. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are the only days that count. If you follow the true advent calendar (not the chocolate one you get for a buck at the discount store) then there are other days for celebrating peace and love, too – not purchases and loans.
But what is the bottom line? Certainly not the amount of money sitting in your bank account. Is it your overdraft funds? Your credit card limit? Traditionally it was whatever cash was left over after paying your mortgage/rent and utility bills but sometimes even those get missed during the holiday rush.
No one needs to amass any amount of debt in order to properly celebrate peace and love. I honestly don’t understand how families can carry the burden of living on credit for the following year after making their Christmas purchases.
My family does two things: sets a budget in advance and makes purchases throughout the year. I am still saving more money for only buying one item with a standard store coupon than the person buying six for the price of four.
Now, not everyone is hard-wired to be able to manage a budget or follow self-restraint. It takes practice to say no to your children and alter excessive expectations. It’s even harder to say no to yourself – because I would hope it’s the spirit of generosity that is driving the amassing of possessions during the holidays and not a prerequisite to top last year’s festivities. With a little time and some friendly intervention, it is possible to limit spending and still have a very Merry Christmas.
And so I wish a Happy New Year to you and yours, and I pray your spending has not strung a credit noose around your wallet.