Christmas is almost upon us, with all the expectations that brings. (Actually, in my book, Christmas Eve is Christmas too.) Those expectations can be good—spending time with family, celebrating a pivotal moment in Christian history, showing people that we love them, and giving.
Giving in its uncoerced form is certainly a virtue. At Christmas, however, certain expectations build up about giving and spending which put many loving parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents (or friends) into debt.
And when you make the decision to have a frugal Christmas, it’s hard not to feel the pressure of society bearing down, even if your friends and relatives say they understand and are ok with the idea. (I’m sure it’s much harder when they don’t understand.)
On yesterday eve (Christmas Eve eve), CNN Money released a report that Americans’ credit card default and delinquent levels are rising steadily.
From the report (italics mine):
…defaults — when lenders essentially give up hope of ever being repaid and write off the debt — rose 18 percent to almost $961 million in October, according to filings made by the trusts with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Serious delinquencies also are up sharply: Some of the nation’s biggest lenders — including Advanta, GE Money Bank and HSBC — reported increases of 50 percent or more in the value of accounts that were at least 90 days delinquent when compared with the same period a year ago.
Rising by 18%? By 50% or more? Those are very scary numbers.
So if, as you look around this Christmas (or other holiday you celebrate) you find yourself thinking “I probably could have bought more or better,” remind yourself that your decision has made life better (or at least not worse) for those around you.
Your kids will be much happier on the grand scale if your family doesn’t have to worry about grocery shopping or living comfortably throughout the year compared to any disappointment they may feel in not receiving expensive gifts. Focus on them and on creating/living family traditions.
Not going into debt for Christmas doesn’t make you Scrooge—it may mean you’re Mr. Cratchit. There’s no shame in that…if you can’t afford it, it’s better to admit it upfront than get yourself in more trouble.
And if you did get into debt this Christmas, there are ways out–debt snowballs, frugal living, and most importantly finding creative inexpensive ways to celebrate and love your family and friends.
You were frugal this Christmas? Fantastic—go have fun!