I have four small children. Well, they actually aren’t that small anymore – they’re getting bigger all the time – and while they understand the need to budget, their basic desires are getting more expensive. A Lego set does cost more than a stuffed animal, that’s for sure. I think it’s safe to say that we all want our children to have a wonderful Christmas, but how do you pay for it?
I’ll confess that in years past, I’ve put Christmas on a credit card. There just hasn’t been enough cash flow in our home to accommodate even the most modest of purchases, so I’ve put everything on the card and spent the next several months paying it off a little at a time. This got presents under the tree, but it also brought feelings of guilt as I added to our debt load instead of helping to pay it down.
This year was actually the first Christmas ever where I paid for everything with cash. I was able to bring in some money on the side and used that for my purchasing, and I have to say, it puts an entirely different perspective on the experience. I could focus on the joy of giving rather than the guilt of shopping on credit. This year, my biggest problem was finding the toy my son wanted, rather than trying to figure out how to pay for it. Everything is tucked away in my closet, wrapped and ready to go, and I’m reveling in the knowledge that I paid for the whole thing upfront, with no scary bills to open later.
I don’t know if I’ll have this ability again next year. Perhaps our finances will take another downturn and I’ll find myself back in the same boat. But I’ll tell you this – the difference in the way I felt, shopping on credit vs. shopping with cash – was so profound that I believe I’ll try to tuck away money all through the year so that regardless of our overall financial status next December, I can shop with cash again. My emotional state is so much better, this might really have saved my Christmas and allowed me to fully enjoy the holiday.