It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – have you noticed? Christmas decorations in stores and Christmas ads all over the place. I thought Christmas wasn’t until December. Silly me. Apparently, and according to those same ads, I’m already running late with my Christmas shopping.
Nonetheless, I wasn’t even thinking about the holidays until today, all of a sudden, my friend Ninel told me she needs to get started with her shopping. I was surprised! Not that she was thinking about presents so soon, but that I immediately got concerned about the fact that I haven’t started shopping either.
To be honest, in the past I haven’t thought too much about the material and financial aspects of Christmas, because I’ve had the money to just go and get presents for everyone when I felt like it. But this year is different. I haven’t recuperated financially from losing my job – even though I found another one, I definitely don’t have money to spare on presents. To make matters worse, my mom’s birthday is December 23rd.
So now what? I’d feel terrible about not giving anyone a present but I really don’t have the money to get them something. I bet I could try to cut a few corners here and there to get my mom a birthday present and my sister a Christmas present, but what about my dad, grandma, grandpa, uncles, cousins and best friends. My extended family all lives very close by, in true Latin-American spirit, and that means they’ll all be around for the holidays.
Even if this is not your particular situation, and you only have to get two or three presents instead of 10+ like me, you may be tempted to use a credit card to have yourself a merry little Christmas… but beware! As much as I love my family, no material thing I could get for them would be worth going into debt. And because they’re my family, and they love me, I’m sure they don’t want that for me either.
I love Christmas as much as the average person, but my favorite holiday of all times is Thanksgiving. It’s ironic since I’m Costa Rican, but the concept of getting together with family and friends to give grace for all the good things in my life fills my heart. Thanksgiving is not about material things – though you could go all out and buy an entire store worth of food; I have had the greatest of Thanksgiving celebrations with the very basics.
It occurs to me it would be a good idea to apply this rationale to Christmas. Why can’t I celebrate Christmas the same way I do Thanksgiving? Why do people even consider going into debt over celebrating the birth of Jesus? It just doesn’t seem to match the true spirit of the holiday.
When I decided to take this approach, my worries seemed to fade away. I don’t NEED to get them presents! I’d LIKE to buy something. There’s a huge difference. Though I’ll probably at least spring for some Christmas cards, or make them myself to give them a personal touch, I hereby publicly announce that I won’t spend another minute of my time worrying over Christmas shopping.
If a Christmas gift isn’t worth going into debt for, is anything? Let this Christmas be the start of a new way of spending if you have been used to relying on credit cards. Though they were never a great idea to begin with, credit cards are quickly approaching the ridiculous. If you have a credit card, check your mail closely over the next couple of months. (Or maybe you already tossed this correspondence, thinking the usual insignificant stuff.) Your terms are about to change. Interest rates are being hiked big time – some as high as 30%, based on prime, which means they can get even higher. It’s the economy, stupid. Think tanks have been warning that credit card companies are next in line for an economic meltdown and these random rate and fee hikes are the first solid indicator that the meltdown is coming. If you read the terms carefully, you’ll notice you can opt out of the increases and you won’t be negatively affected if you pay your balance off by the time your current card expires or your current membership year ends, whichever comes later. The account will have to close, but you know what? Who cares? They can keep their stinking credit because cash is king! Girls, get out the scissors and let’s make confetti of those credit cards. Sayonara Citibank!