Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Budgeting - A Necessary Evil?

Bella has a love-hate relationship with Christmas. She loves celebrating with family, stuffing myself with turkey, sipping wine whilst wearing a party hat. She loves the magic of Christmas, she think a bit of her still believes in Santa. But, Bella absolutely hates the way the season is so based on wants and materialism. Bella's not all humbug - just a little. Christmas for me should be about family, faith and celebration. It should ALSO be about giving. However, she personally feels it should be a gift with a meaning, a gift of kindness, where the monetary value poses no significance.

Lately, Bella has been gathering baby items for a lady that her Mother-In-Law told her about. This lady has been separated from her husband, is pregnant and has many children. She lives in a rundown apartment and has little or nothing for her unborn child. It has meant so much to Bella to be able to give my unwanted items for the baby. That to her, is the real giving of Christmas, something she plans and hopes to instill in her children. Though she feels she has a tough fight ahead.

So to the budgeting part. Most years, Bella purchases what she cannot afford. She is not alone. She knows her parents did this for her and her brother. Whip out the plastic without a second thought, swipe, sign, done. But why do we do this, wonders Bella? If we put gifts on a credit card, and only pay the minimum balance, it could take 5 to 45 years (depending on your card's rate and current balance) to pay off these gifts. She cannot fathom why intelligent people (like her -ha!) continue to do this. Well, Bella has given herself a gift, a gift of permission. She will allow herself not to feel guilty for having purchased her relatives small gifts, with the cash she has available. She will not spoil her child with too many presents and Santa will only bring one large gift.

Check back to see how Bella gets on ... wish her luck and Merry Christmas.

UPDATE: This Christmas she managed to buy all the gifts for just over $400. This was for 5 children and three adults. It did include an Ipod for the husband and Thomas the Tank Engine Toys, so she think the amount spent was quite good. All paid for in cash - phew - so no paying off gifts for 20+ years.

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