Every Day

Put Away Those Credit Cards

The biggest shopping season of the year is here. I read a post on Facebook yesterday where a woman stated that the average amount spent per person on Christmas was $1,000. She said she heard it on the Today show. Now I don’t watch the Today show or any other morning show so I don’t know if that was said.

However if it was, I find that hard to believe even if if you added up all Christmas costs- gifts, Christmas cards, decorations, and the holiday meal- that the average American would spend $1,000. per person.

I suppose if you are traveling for the holiday and add in those costs that you might spend $1,000. per person.

Anyhow, I find that number shocking. I buy for 6 people at Christmas plus a few small gifts for the mailman, newspaper woman, and my UPS man. 

I mail out about 30 Christmas cards at the most. We don’t buy any new decorations because we have plenty from other years. Even if we purchased a few new ones each year, they would be purchased at 50- 75% off from the prior year.

I don’t cook the Christmas meal but I will be cooking the traditional Thanksgiving meal for my family this year. So even if I include those costs, I don’t think I would spend $1,000. per person. 

According to what this woman said, I would be spending $6,000. for my sons, DIL’s and grandchildren. Hubby and I do not exchange gifts. We buy whatever we need when we need it all year long. But we would be included in the other costs so that would up it to $8,000. There is no way!

Now I have been known to be wrong more than once in my life. So I have a little notebook that I am going to track every penny we spend on Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and see what we spend and what our average per person comes out to. That way, instead of guessing, I will know what the true costs were. I would love if some of you would do the same so that you know exactly what you are spending. Sometime after Christmas I will give you my results and I would love to hear about yours.

I know it is a busy time of year and this gives you one more thing to do. But doing this may benefit you in the long run. You may find out that you are doing just fine on those costs or you may find out that you spending way too much. Some of you may find out that you are running your credit cards up and having to pay interest for months on all of those purchases. Track your costs on your computer or a plain old piece of paper or a little notebook that you carry with you.  

Now let’s get to the title of this post: Put Away Those Credit Cards. If you pay your credit card bills in full every month when they are due, feel free to use your credit cards. If you can afford to pay cash for your Christmas expenses and can afford $1,000. and want to, feel free.

However if you are planning on using your credit cards to pay for Christmas and plan on paying it off over time next year, thing twice about doing that. You may be getting some great sale prices over the season, especially on Good Friday, but those purchases will cost you so much more when you add up the interest you pay. It will also cost you a lot of stress. Is it worth it? I say no, it’s not! You are spending future money that you haven’t earned yet. That is a never a good plan.

I am sure that many of you have purchased on sale  gifts throughout the year and have set them aside. If you did, congrats to you! That is the smart way to Christmas shop. Many of you may have made gifts for your families. Congrats to you! I wish I was so handy.

But one thing that I have made through the years for our families is gift baskets. They can be as expensive as you want or as inexpensive as you want. They are easy and everyone loves gift baskets. As an example one year, I made ice cream baskets: spoons, sundae glasses that I bought at Dollar Tree, gift certificates for an ice cream store, different sprinkles and toppings, etc. Another year, I gave a basket of holiday socks that I purchased at 90% off after each holiday all year long. Another year, I gave a basket of holiday paper napkins and plates that I purchased the same way. There are so many ideas that will keep your costs low. I buy my baskets at garage sales when I see them for less than a $1.00. You shrink wrap them with bags from the dollar store and put on a nice bow. You have a nice gift that is really pretty, inexpensive, and most people would love.

So if you are planning on running up your credit cards, think twice about that. Instead make an inexpensive family gift basket that won’t end up keeping you up at night wondering how you are going to pay for Christmas.

I believe that over the years, Christmas spending has gotten out of control. People are spending way too much money on gifts for people they don’t even want to exchange with. Don’t do that. Let those people know that you will not be exchanging gifts anymore. Spend your money the way you want to not the way others expect you to. Many of those people don’t want to exchange gifts either but are afraid to say anything. So have the courage to stop the cycle. Take control!

Well, I will stop now lest you think that I am Scrooge. But I wanted to make you think a little about what you are spending for the holidays and how you are spending it. Then start 2019 with your Christmas expenses paid for.