Stop the insanity of Christmas debt

Christmas is around the corner and your stomach is in knots. You want to join in the spirit of the season but the debt from last Christmas still plagues you and the memory of last January’s credit card statement sets off heart palpitations. 

The weight of the season is upon you so you slump your shoulders, grab your plastic and trudge off to do your duty.  Christmas, for you, is no longer fun.

Stop. You have other choices. Today. Right now. Make the “no debt” resolution for this year. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured, trapped, goaded or guilted into spending money you don’t have.

"How can I do this?” you are thinking. “My kids expect Christmas gifts. My family will have a gift exchange. Others are spending money on me.” 

This year try substituting creativity for debt. Once you have drawn the “no debt” line in the sand, your creative juices will begin to flow. 

•Do you sew? How about personalized aprons? 

•Can you crochet? An afghan or some potholders make great gifts. 

•How about decoupage? Try a jewelry box or fancy picture frame.

•Woodworking? Build a toolbox or a candle holder.

•No inspiration so far? Pictures of family, children or grandchildren mounted in inexpensive frames make great gifts. 

•How about the gift of time? Make a hand-printed certificate offering free babysitting or raking leaves or washing windows (hint to my kids). How about a special day alone with your daughter or a fishing trip with your son?

This is the year to avoid debt and actually enjoy the spirit of the season. Will your friends and family understand? Probably not. 

Do you owe them an explanation? No, but if they ask, smile serenely and say, “We are living within our means this year.” Who knows? Maybe your good sense will inspire some sanity in others.

One thing is certain: you will be able to breathe easy when that January credit card statement arrives.

<em>Joe Plemon is a certified financial counselor. Email your questions on personal finance to Joe at <a href=""></a>.</em>

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