07 Oct Reflections Of A Christmas Budget Path Less Traveled.
Let’s reflect on a budget path less traveled so that you may avoid the pain of gift giving this Christmas. There are 77 days left until Christmas as of October 7th. So you take that pressure and add the pressure of employees being off work without pay due to the government shutdown and you now have the perfect storm for the holiday panic. Is there a magical way to budget for Christmas without going further into credit card debt? Unequivocally the answer is yes, but it calls for budgeting either on your own or through layaway.
You could could be dealing with the most rational person on the face of the planet. They could tell you that Starbucks is truly a luxury item and not a necessity. They do not argue when you tell them that they must take a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to work everyday in order to reduce spending. But me oh my do not try and tell anyone that they cannot and should not buy gifts for family members at Christmas time.
When Christmas gift giving becomes part of the conversation I have learned that there may be times that I need to take cover. In fact every year I discuss this subject of gift giving because it has two side effects on people. First the stress of having to buy presents in order to keep up appearances ruins the holiday for people. Secondly, the gift spending either jeopardizes one’s ongoing bankruptcy or pushes the person one step closer to actually filing bankruptcy.
So this year I thought I might discuss a Christmas budget path less traveled. The budget plan is called layaway. Layaway is a great way for you to budget for the purpose of Christmas shopping without incurring credit. The concept is very simple. You pick out the items you want and then ask for time through layaway to purchase them. The store then places the items in storage or lays them away until such time as you have paid off the item.
The advantage is no interest will accrue (otherwise known as interest free) on the item during the time of layaway and you will not have increased your credit card debt. Why would a store be willing to offer such a great deal without making money on it? Well if you do not pay off the debt per the terms of the layaway the store will keep the items and a portion of your money as a “storage fee” or “restocking fee.” Also keep in mind that when you place items on layaway you might not be able to receive the sale price if it occurs later in the season.
I know some will ask; “What do I do if there is not enough time to payoff the gift before the holidays?” My response has been and will continue to be, “Don’t purchase the item. You are not a bad parent or human being if you cannot afford Christmas gifts.” With everything that is taking place in our economy today now more than ever is the time to evaluate your spending habits.
After spending many years reviewing client’s budgets I have come to believe that all holidays are way too commercialized for my liking. Further, I have found that increased commercialization equals increased opportunity to prey on hard working Americans. We have allowed society and the media to place ridiculous ideas in our head as to what we must purchase and why we must purchase these items to make us or those around us happy.
Layaway can help balance out the negative effects of commercialization. But there are pros and cons with any financial agreement. Read the terms of the layaway agreement so you know what you are agreeing to. Since the economy is not as strong as the media would have us believe there are many retailers who are know throwing their hat into the ring to accept layaway options. Check out your choices here.
Remember that knowledge is power. The more knowledge you have about breaking free of the social restraints and taking the budget path less traveled, the more power you will have to live within a reasonable budget utilizing layaway. The result may very well be the greatest gift you could ever receive. The gift of a financially stress free holiday that allows you to enjoy the season without going into debt.
Photo credit by Rachel Lynn Foley.