There are a few occasions in our lives where much of our financial responsibility gets thrown out the window. Babies are probably number one, but weddings, vacations, and Christmas are close behind.
No matter how disciplined you’ve been for the rest of the year, as the holidays approach it’s just so easy to justify outrageous spending.
Common Misconceptions About Christmas Spending
– It’s not for you, it’s for your friends and family, which is worth more than staying in debt a little longer
– Your children will be devastated if they don’t get a ton of presents
– Celebrating life is more important than debt
– Etc., etc.
Are these valid? They may ring true, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept them.
We have to assume you’re serious about getting out of debt. The one lesson that most people learn on their debt-repayment journey is that while slow and steady might win the race, there’s a lot of power in putting the majority of your focus and energy towards succeeding.
The fact is, taking a month off to shop around, look for deals, and push through crowded malls will have a seriously adverse effect on that focus.
Every extra dollar you’ve been throwing towards debt has been a message to your brain that THIS is your priority. As you go, it gets easier and easier to avoid temptation. Keep driving past the coffee shop and make a cup at home, fix the leaky faucet instead of renovating your kitchen, etc.
Backtracking on this mindset will be setting yourself back much further than just the dollar amount you’ve spent.
Alternatives To Expensive Presents
Your family is in the same boat as you are. While most parents avoid conversations about money with their children, it’s rarely because children can’t understand what’s happening. Leading up to the holidays (or anytime), you can start framing your conversations about your process of paying off debt.
Turn your situation into a valuable learning tool for your children. When it comes time for presents, find activities and games you can participate in rather than filling their rooms with more clutter. Yes, they might be upset they didn’t get that new iPad, but you didn’t grow up with one and you turned out just fine.
With friends and extended family, you’ll have to judge based on the relationship. We’re not trying to cause extra stress by straining awkward social relationships, but the truth is simply that you cannot afford to spend money lavishly this year.
Consider alternatives like baking that are more meaningful than a mall gift certificate, or simply explain that you’re not going to be doing gifts this year and don’t want anything in return (again this will depend on the relationship with the person in question).
Yes, this might be difficult. It’s so much easier to let your credit card absorb all of this awkwardness and deal with it in January when you pull your head out of the sand. That’s what most people do. But you’re not most people.
You’re getting serious, and you have a plan.
This year, go for meaningful gestures and memory-making activities rather than this years’ ‘must-have’ forgettable toys.
Lastly, if you know you’re going to be struggling financially this season, always remember that there are thousands of seasonal jobs available that you might be able to do part-time to help bring in a bit more cash.