Christmas – Play Now, Pay Later

November 26, 2007

Christmas is a wonderful time of year! You look forward to the lights, the Christmas carols, the food, and the chance to be with family as you celebrate the reason for the season. However, along with all the festivities, the bills usually stack up during the holidays. For many, gift giving results in dread and frustration, as the list of recipients grows longer every year.

Sadly, many people spend so much money over the holidays, paying the bills takes until next Christmas to get caught up. Then, it is time to start spending all over again! Do not fall into the money trap of Christmas. Learn how to enjoy the season without suffering from the play now, pay later syndrome.

Of course, I created a catchy syndrome to get your attention, but there is nothing funny about buying your way into debt every December. So, here are some ways you can enjoy the holidays without selling your firstborn to pay the bills:

• Reevaluate your priorities– is Christmas about family, or getting the best presents. If it is usually the latter, have a family discussion, and set new priorities. The true joy of the holidays should not come in a big, expensive box.

• Be creative– and make decorations for the tree. A great family activity, making homemade decorations like stringing popcorn is lots of fun, unbreakable, and does not take up storage space after the first of the year.

• Homemade Christmas gifts– are a wonderful way to say, “I love you.” For example, if you crochet, make snowflake ornaments for all of the relatives. Children, draw pictures. Parents will treasure your artistry more than anything you could have bought at the store.

• Give IOU’s– No. It is not bad etiquette to give an IOU. Last year a family of seven decided Christmas was simply getting to costly, so they exchanged notes. For example, a child’s note may read: “I owe Mommy any chore of her choice without complaint.” Dad’s note to Mom could say: “I owe you a date, without kids, to go shopping, eat out, go to the movies, or take a walk on the beach.” With a little help, even the smallest toddler in the family can give IOU’s to parents and siblings.

• DO NOT overcharge this Christmas– have a budget and stick to it, even during the holidays. If you must pull out the plastic, make sure you do not charge more than you can pay off within the next month. You will enjoy the holidays a lot more, if you do not have to dread January.

As a self-employed single parent, I tend to dread the holidays, which makes me sad. I do not have the money to get them the gifts they want. Also, I still have to worry about buying for extended family. I have had to consider my own values this Christmas.

With the rising cost of heating fuel, gasoline, housing, and everything else-including groceries, I know many of you are also feeling the budget crunch of the holidays.

If you have any suggestions on how to have a Merry, and affordable Christmas, please share your ideas.



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3 Responses to Christmas – Play Now, Pay Later

  • Christmas Tips

    Well said on the greatness of Christmas and the importance of Christmas gifts in the season thanks for remembering this thoughts.

  • Frugal Duchess

    My mom has spent the last couple of months making beautiful pottery pieces for the family.

    It really means a lot to us that she has taken the time to make our presents.

    I enjoyed this post.

    Best wishes,

  • Sean

    This is the first Christmas in a while for me to get more than 3 gifts… I will stick to your points.