It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas… SO!  Don’t get sucked into the super emotional ads that will begin to infiltrate your television screen. You know the ads where the family has a Charlie Brown looking tree and then miraculously after Dad gets a shiny new Visa card the house is instantly transformed into a winter wonderland and the tree is lined with hundreds of gifts! Chile, yes chile not child, please don’t believe the hype! Your family will survive if you resist the urge to trample folks on Black Friday to get a new curved ultra high definition television that is really only 5 inches larger than the current TV that you have at home!  Don’t get me wrong I LOVE the holiday season.  I love the cold weather, family gatherings, snuggling by the fire, and eating my Mommy’s (yes I still call her Mommy because that’s her name)  delicious food, but I don’t like the excessive spending and debt aka holiday poverty that comes with this time of the year.

Now, before you read any further, let me warn you that some of you probably will not like what I am about to say.  So, if you are super sensitive, brainwashed by the media, excessively politically correct (I will say Christmas because I live in the South, am Christian, and celebrate the Christmas holiday – if you don’t celebrate Christmas feel free to replace the word Christmas with your holiday) or just plain not ready to make a change in your life, you should probably just stop reading.

Okay, now that all of that has been said let’s get to it!  The holiday season can be wonderful, but it can also totally wreck your finances.  The crazy thing is that a lot of people get themselves in the same financial mess each year.  Now, please don’t act like you don’t know what I am talking about people!  You spend WAY more than you have on Black Friday and in early December. Then you suffer for the first quarter of the next year and suddenly have amnesia about all of the financial stress come next November.  It’s just plan insanity!  Back in the 90’s Susan Powter used to say “Stop the Madness” to help folks lose weight.  I am saying please “Stop the Cray Cray!”  Why is it worth it to actually PLAN to spend more than you have to perpetuate some silly holiday stereotype of prosperity via the accumulation of worthless crap! Let me help you remember the stress from last year. Break out your bank and credit card statements from November, December, and January of last year.  Review your income and expenses and I am sure that you will not have amnesia any longer!

I have the solution – don’t do it!  I wrote a financial self help book called Crawl Before You Walk. In the past, I would only give this advice to clients attending my money management seminars.  Due to the increased popularity of my seminars, I will be making the book available to the public before Christmas this year! One of my favorite chapters is called Mourn the Loss of the Big E’s. The Big E’s are what I call unnecessary, annual, Big Expenses (get it, Big E’s?) like Valentine’s day, birthdays, anniversaries, tax season (because you know you guys act like tax season is a darn holiday), and worst of all Christmas.  I know that you are probably rolling your eyes right and saying this girl is crazy, but it IS possible. For now, we will just concentrate on the Christmas/current holiday season since it is only weeks away.  We can tackle the others in later blog posts.

I hate it when people skip paying their bills around Thanksgiving and early December so that they can put on airs and ball out of control at Christmas time.  In my opinion it’s the single most destructive annual financial decision that you can possibly make. Stop it guys, really!  It’s not worth it!  Why would you want to put yourself in that stressful position in January?  And I know how you rationalize it!  Remember, I own a chain of  retail tax practices.  I can hear you now saying “Well, I can be late on the rent or mortgage because I am going to get my tax refund in January” and “I’ll have enough to pay both months then” or “I will just charge up all of my credit cards and pay them off later.”  Then when your employer does not issue your W2 until January 31 you come into my office crying and trying to scheme ways to file your tax return with your last pay stub! No ma’m she’s not going to jail for anyone! Or more likely, Congress causes a government shut down (which will probably happen) that delays the start of tax season to early February, which means you may not receive your refund until the end of February or early March. By then your behind is about to get evicted or foreclosed on.  Just don’t do it! Don’t get mad, you know that I am right, it happens every year!  I think that someone needs to finally expose this dirty little secret so that we can stop this cycle of holiday poverty that I call living from paycheck to payday loan to tax refund to paycheck!

I am not saying that you can’t put up a tree and have a big family dinner.  I AM saying that dinner should be a pot luck though!  I just want you to realize that you don’t need to go into debt to celebrate the holiday.  Again, I absolutely LOVE Christmas!  It’s my favorite holiday!  I used to put up like 3 trees in my house and have my entire house lined in white lights positioned perfectly along the roof line and windows.  All of that crap is expensive!

When I got married ten years ago, I apparently lost my mind and thought that I needed  to put up the largest tree in the neighborhood and have the best outdoor and indoor holiday décor on the street because I am a doctor’s wife and that is what was expected of me.   I can remember one Christmas spending over $3,000 on presents for family members – remember we don’t even have kids! And no shade, but all we received were some holiday cards, lol!

So, basically I went crazy and spent a ridiculous amount of money for holiday décor, presents, and our annual holiday party. I decided then and there that my husband and I would not give each other Christmas, anniversary, birthday, or Valentine’s  day gifts while we were working toward our goal of saving five years of what it costs to be us annually.  I also decided that the swanky annual Purselle Holiday party was a thing of the past.  No more hiring five servers and two bar tenders, no more paying through the nose for a catering service in December…  I decided that we would go and eat and drink up someone else’s hard earned money for a few years!  ☺ And as for the family, only immediate family members (i.e. nieces, nephews, parents and our siblings) would receive gifts from us, and by gifts I mean a $50 limit per person. If you have an insanely large family maybe consider a secret Santa present exchange or totally eliminate giving gifts and just enjoy time with your family.  Last year, I arranged for my family to cook and serve dinner on Christmas Day at a homeless men’s shelter as a family activity.  Everyone had a great time, the kids learned a lot, and we plan to go back every year.

I will admit that if you have kids the Christmas Big E can be tough the first year. Let me also say before I get a lot emails or nasty tweets because I don’t have children of my own – my sister’s kids and my god children are my kids. I have been allowed to take part in their rearing since birth so the same twinge of guilt that you may have for changing up your kids’ typical Christmas/holiday routine, well I felt that the first year as well.  Remember,  I am the aunt that used to spend over $3,000 on my nephews, nieces, and god children. I realized that it’s better to teach them about the value of a dollar than to give them a bunch of useless stuff.

OK, so now that I am off of my soap box this is how you handle it:  give your kids one gift each at Christmas.  It won’t kill them. Believe me!  They really don’t need every newly marketed item available to survive. They need a roof over their head, a warm bed to sleep in,  food and water in their belly, and your love.  That’s it! Balling out of control at Christmas time may endanger a few of the things that they ACTUALLY need to survive if you get yourself in a financial bind and can’t pay your bills.  If the kids are over the age of ten give them a cash gift card on the morning of Christmas Eve and let them buy what they want with it.  I like this idea because you can track their spending and see if they save any of it.  We actually started this years ago with our nephews Jalen, Aiden, and Terrence. We add money to the cards throughout the year when they do something worthy of a financial treat like coming to my office and cleaning up,  filing paperwork, or helping with yard work.  It’s great because we all have access to track their spending and saving habits.

Now, last but certainly not least, forget about the Joneses during this time of the year!  You know the folks who will have a $1,000 power bill because of all of the lights and holiday decor in their front yard, aka me 10 years ago, lol!  Don’t let them get you off track with judgments and comments. You know like when they try to invite you to go shopping in the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday say “Nah, I pass, I would rather be home warm and asleep in my bed.”  Remember, misery loves company!  No one wants to be broke alone! It’s a trap!  Not to mention it sucks that companies are trying to make people work all day and night on Thanksgiving. When you discover how much extra money you have in the bank because you decided to give up the Christmas/holiday Big E you won’t mourn the loss any more!

Please share this post with your family members, colleagues, and loved ones.  Let’s stop this cycle of holiday poverty!  Follow my social media and subscribe to my blog because I will be launching an exciting contest to incent you guys with a $2,000 cash prize to give up the holiday Big E!

See below links for social media for Tax Heiress and Crawl Before You Walk.

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Smooches,

 

Buffie the Tax Heiress