Are you someone who goes into debt every holiday season? You’re not alone. Debt and the holidays go hand-in-hand with one another for many families. Many people spend more than they have or money they simply don’t have to fund the holiday season (i.e. gifts, a Christmas tree, cards, dinners, treats). However, they don’t consider the lasting impact on your finances throughout the rest of the year.
Debt and the Holidays: A Story
Growing up, I was good friends with a larger family that was fairly well-off. Each year around Christmas, their mother took out a loan to pay for gifts for the kids. Yes, a LOAN. It sounded insane to me then and it still sounds fairly crazy to me now, but I realized more people do this than you might realize.
Every single year, they would have new Michael Jordan sneakers under the tree, a new phone, a new iPod, and literally whatever they asked for. In my family, we always had a nice Christmas, but within reason. When I would visit and see how they celebrated, it would always blow my mind. To me, it didn’t feel much like Christmas. It felt more like they were showing off for someone. But who?
I’m not sure if that is true or not, but it is certainly how it felt. Once I learned a loan was taken out for it each year, my jaw dropped. How did that make any sense at all? Then it was explained to me that they would pay it off before the next year’s celebration. While, in theory, this could work and even benefit your credit score, I’d still avoid it like the plague.
Why This is Generally a Bad Idea
Of course, if you have the means to pay off the loan in a short period of time like they did, great. But wouldn’t it be even better if you used that money and put it into savings each year? Your savings can accrue interest, while your loan’s interest isn’t the desirable sort.
On top of potentially putting yourself in a hard spot financially, it is also supporting bad habits with your money. When you take out a loan to cover Christmas gifts, you are giving yourself the “okay” to do it with other things too. Before you know it, you have tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt and need a loan to be able to pay for rent, not just gifts once a year.
So, before you go over the top and think about getting a loan out or going into debt over the holidays, think about how you can better budget your money, save, and give meaningful gifts. After all, the true meaning of the entire season is the spirit of giving – that doesn’t mean you need to spend a fortune.
Readers, what do you think about debt and the holidays? Have you ever considered getting a loan out for Christmas or any celebration?