In 2016, the average family in the United States will spend $900 on Christmas. Although it seems like a low now, we actually spent more in 2001 with Americans spending $1,100 on between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Then in 2009, after suffering through one of the worst financial downturns in our lifetime, we spent only $470 per family.
When Americans had their backs up against the wall in 2009, they were able to cut spending nearly in half. However, today we are back up to spending double what we did just 7 years ago, yet the cost of living has slowly increased, wages have remained stagnant, and we are all of a sudden willing to overspend and go into debt this year for the holidays.
Before you visit the store, click on the checkout button, or decide to spend more than you have this Christmas, here are 10 reasons to simply say “no”.
1. You Don’t Want to Pay for this Christmas in 2019
According to a survey by Magnify Money, the average amount Americans will go into debt for Christmas in 2016 is $986. Over half of those surveyed believe it will take longer than 5 months to pay off the holiday debt, and 27% of those surveyed say they will be making only the minimum payments on their holiday debt starting in 2017.
If you find yourself among the group making the minimum payments on this year’s Christmas debt, you can expect to have this year’s Christmas paid off by 2019. Yes, if you make $25 minimum payments on your credit cards on $986 worth of debt, you will be paying on these cards for the next two years!
*Just say: No, I don’t want to pay for Christmas in two years.
2. Your Kids Would Rather Play with the Box the Toy Came In
I remember running around town, searching the internet, and finding this one special gift for my son for Christmas. My wife wrapped it perfectly, it was so big it actually didn’t fit under the tree, and I was filled with joy when Carter finally was able to open it!
A few minutes later the gift was off to the side and he was playing in the box it came in.
I learned something that day: I should have gone to U-Haul and bought a $6 box for him to play in. Also, don’t confuse your own joy for what you think your kids will feel when they open your big gift. Spending more or less on a gift has no bearing on how much your kids think you love them. Case in point: the box the gift came in was the highlight that year.
Just say: No, I just want the box the gift comes in.
3. Your Broke Neighbors Are Not Your Competition
I’ll admit Andrea and I have fallen into the trap of buying gifts for our kids only because we didn’t want our kids to miss out on the same luxuries as the kids down the street. Then we realized the truth: the kids don’t care as much as we think they do.
As guilty as you may feel for not buying your kids everything your rich neighbor bought for their kids, you are going to feel way worse when you don’t have money to buy groceries come January. Do not allow one morning of joy cause 364 days of pain because you spent way more than you could afford.
*No, I don’t want to get involved in a gift-buying competition with my broke neighbors.
4. Not Everyone You Know Needs a Gift
Note to self: you are not going to hell if you show up without a gift.
Growing up in our home, my mom truly believed she needed to buy everyone she had ever come in contact with a Christmas gift. Thank goodness this was before the days of a Facebook Friend Request!
She was buying just a little something for a teacher I had 4 years earlier, another gift for the daughter of someone who wrote something nice in her 1976 yearbook, and a cousin in Germany who she saw once every ten years.
Remember this; the people you are buying for may not even want a gift. If you show up with an unannounced present and they didn’t get you anything, now you just added an extremely awkward moment for everyone. Last Christmas before planning dinner with some friends, we all agreed we wouldn’t bring gifts. Then they showed up with gifts and we had nothing.
*No, I didn’t bring a gift this time.
5. Creativity Trumps Cost
Every year at Thanksgiving, we all secretly draw the name for who we will buy for at Christmas. Now we are only buying one gift instead of fifteen, and we also have time to think and be creative about that one gift.
Creativity will always trump cost when it comes to giving a gift. It doesn’t take much thought to go onto Amazon, click a few buttons, and buy a token gift for Christmas. However, it takes a lot of thought when it comes to a creative gift.
Maybe this year instead of buying another iPad, you can come up with something unique, creative, and only from you. You could create gift certificate for a weekend of camping with your kids, a date night with your wife, or a promise to watch a neighbor’s’ kids over the weekend so they can finally get some time away.
What did you get for Christmas from your husband or wife three years ago?
You don’t remember? Exactly.
Where did you go on your first date? Exactly.
*No, I didn’t buy this gift, I made it!
Memories made cost less and last longer than anything else you can find in the store.Click To Tweet
6. You Will Get a Better Deal AFTER Christmas
Retailers can expect 30% of their annual revenue between Thanksgiving and Christmas because everyone has to buy something. As much as you may think you are getting a deal, it doesn’t compare to the deal you are going to get immediately after Santa heads back to the North Pole.
Christmas lights, blow-ups, and decorations are deeply discounted the week following Christmas. Winter clothing will be discounted in January and if you can wait until February, you are going to find the best prices on electronics. In February, the electronics industry comes out with the latest and greatest, which means you can expect large discounts to clear way for the new inventory.
*No, I’m going to wait until the week after Christmas and get an actual deal.
7. Your 55” Television Wasn’t Small Two Years Ago
Two years ago my neighbor purchased a brand new 55” television because the old 50” was much too small.
This year he saw the latest 60” television from Amazon and he says it’s a must-have for the family.
The funny thing is when he comes over to my house, he thinks my television is also a 55” and I don’t have the heart to tell him it’s only a 50”!
Remember, you’re not buying a bigger television; you’re being sold the idea your current television is too small. Don’t overspend this Christmas for 5” of television screen measured diagonally.
*No, I’m going to tell myself my 55” is actually a 60” television.
8. People Don’t Care About Their Gift as Much as You Think
Have you ever opened a gift and hoped there was a gift receipt at the bottom so you could take it back?
If you said “no”, then you’re probably lying.
I’m an adult and if I want something, I save up cash and go and buy it. Don’t get me wrong, I love opening gifts, but so many times I can tell someone grabbed something in a hurry, threw it in their shopping cart, and made it just in time for me to open it.
Here is the truth; I don’t really need a gift to be happy. I’d rather you just come over to hang out. Save your money on my gift of a lifetime and let’s go grab a beer together (you’re buying).
*No, I don’t even remember what I got last year (or any other year before that).
9. Starting Off the New Year Broke Sucks
Before we created a plan for our money, we would start off the New Year with credit card statements in our mailbox right around the end of December. The balances felt like a financial gut punch – the magic of Christmas was over and the reality of bills, payments, and interest had arrived.
Don’t start off 2017 broke. You have things you want to do, places you want to see, and have a whole year of life that is still going to cost money. When you overspend now, you’re going to pay for it later.
*No, I would rather have money to buy groceries in January.
10. “Stuff” Wears Off
Every year when you turn on the television, open up your social media feed, or turn on the radio, you are going to see and hear the promise that this year’s “stuff” is the answer to everything.
If I can just get the latest iPhone…
If I can just have a bigger television…
If I can just drive off in a new car…
If I can just…
The bottom line is no matter what you are promised or what you believe, stuff is not going to give you long lasting happiness. Tim Kasser says in his book The High Price of Materialism,
“The more materialistic values are at the center of our lives, the more our quality of life is diminished.”
Since materialistic values don’t create long-term happiness, then the material things we give and receive this holiday season aren’t going to bring long-term happiness either.
Don’t overspend and go into debt for “stuff”. Just as materialism doesn’t bring happiness, making debt payments after Christmas won’t bring you happiness either.
*No, I really don’t need more stuff. I’m already pretty darn happy!
Children do whatever feels good in the moment and adults create a plan, implement the plan, and stick to it.
Before you overspend, keep these 6 things in mind:
- Identify how much you have to spend (without going into debt)
- Create a Christmas budget with the amount you have
- Decide how much of your Christmas spending will be for gifts
- Decide who you will buy for (and who you will not buy for)
- Be creative in your gifts
- Once you hit your spending limit – stop spending.
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