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Laura Hunt

Romance & Money

Incorporating The Cost Of Gift Giving

Money talk before the holidays

Janice in Delaware:
We h've been together for four years and married for two. Every year we seem to get out of control with our holiday spending. We're still paying off the last two Christmas seasons. With our perennial Christmas card debt (rates of 16% and more) we'll never own a home or take a vacation. What can we do to save ourselves from ourselves? Help!

Janice, You are right to be concerned. Some people accumulate so much credit card debt that it would take 40 years to pay off at the rates most consumers pay. Your first priority needs to be to your financial health, not to those for whom you've been buying gifts each year.

"Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty."
Stanislaw J. Lee (1909-1966)

Think of debt as a potential avalanche.

Though it may be difficult, this year you MUST tell your friends and family that you have to get a handle on your debt, so this year gift giving will be either none at all or minimal. I advise you to have them join in on this budget-conscious holiday. Have everyone draw names, or buy only $10.00 gifts. Yes, I said $10.00. Be creative. Better yet, get everyone together and do something for the homeless or your favorite charity for the holidays instead of spending money on each other. Give the truest gift of them all: your time and compassion. Isn't that what Christmas is all about?

Years ago I took my office staff to the homeless shelter to feed the homeless for two days. We were all changed for the better. Our team spirit was amazingly improved, as were our interpersonal relationships. Give of yourself for the holidays and leave those credit cards alone.

Believe me, your friends and your family, want nothing but for you to be happy and healthy. Debt is not healthy. They probably will be supportive of your efforts to get out of debt. Have that all important money talk before the holidays.

For your own sake, examine your debt. Know the math. For example: a $10,000.00 credit card balance at 16%; $167.00 per month for ten years will cost you over $20,000.00. Is it worth it?

Go to this wonderful site: and use their on-line calculator to get a good view of what your debt is costing you.

Now, for all that past debt you've accumulated, lower the rates  on the cards by shopping around for the best credit card plan.

Additional information on this topic:

Read Earlier Articles
Editorial Calendar & Monthly Budget Worksheet
Important Financial Help Websites and Phone Numbers



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