As of today, October 8, Christmas is only 80 days away. When Christmas is over and New Year’s Eve is a blur, will you be overwhelmed by bills and contemplating bankruptcy? You shouldn’t be, but thousands of people will be.
Christmas seems to suck all rationality out of people. You could be the most rational person you know. You believe a Starbucks’ latte is a luxury, not a necessity every morning on your way to work. You might drive an eight year old car because it’s paid for. You might actually take PB&J sandwiches for lunch every day because paying $10 at the food court rubs you raw. But start talking about Christmas, especially with kids, and all bets are off.
The peer pressure of gift-giving is enormous. What’s the topic of conversation between Thanksgiving and December 24? What are you giving (fill in the blank)? It’s like how everyone’s life on Facebook is great but yours is the pits. When you hear all the cool things your friends are planning to give — well out comes the VISA card and away goes your self-control.
It doesn’t have to be this way, but it takes enormous effort. You are not a bad parent/son/daughter/friend if you can’t afford to give the priciest gifts. Start by talking to your spouse or significant other if you share bills and income. Decide on a limit for all gift-giving. When the topic comes up among friends, say something like “this year I’m not going to break the bank for the holidays. You’ll be getting a gift that comes from the heart.” Chances are your friends will appreciate that.
If you do use your credit card, every time you make a charge deduct that amount in your checkbook. If you get to zero, stop. It’s just like using checks or a debit card. That money is gone. Better yet, only pay in cash. When the cash runs out, you have to stop buying.
If you can do these things your bankruptcy may never come. Here’s to that.