What’s Your Christmas Spending Personality?
As we move from Thanksgiving to Christmas, it’s time (actually way past time) to consider how to address the financial challenges and issues that come with “the most wonderful time of the year.” Retailers continue their heavy push to market their wares (as they have always), many of us become susceptible to overspending during the holidays in different ways.
There are many different spending personalities out there (some being REALLY “out there”), and the Christmas holiday season seems to accentuate each one of them.
Let’s see if you recognize yourself in any of the 7 Christmas Spending Personalities.
Poor Ebenezer Scrooge! Charles Dicken’s total-tightwad turned year-long Christmas do-gooder has never received the positive recognition he deserves. Call someone a “Scrooge” nowadays and you’re calling them a money-hungry, greedy you-know-what who cares little for that which does not earn or save him money and even less for the people behind such plans. What happened to rooting for the bad guys to have a change of heart and become the good guys? This is, after all, the story of Dicken’s 1843, A Christmas Carol. Unfortunately for Ebenezer, his former reputation always seems to supersede his ultimate holiday personality makeover. Still, in keeping with his ultimate transformation, I’d like to identify Scrooge in his more positive light.
You might be a Scrooge Christmas Spender if…you’re one who has a hard time spending money on just about anything that doesn’t profit you or your household, but still, in the end, you find joy in spending on others (in the form of gifts or other support). If this sounds like you, consider yourself a Christmas Scrooge (and I mean that in the kindest, most loving way). You tend to be very generous at this time of year (although year-round as well), both anonymously and even sometimes conspicuously (in order to spread Christmas cheer, or course).
Christmas Tip if You’re a Scrooge: You already likely live by a Christmas budget and know that debt is a four letter word. Just remember to curb your tendencies to bemoan the commercialism of the season (although it is excessively commercialized, I agree). Remember that Christmas is a magical time for the kids especially and that we’d rather see the excitement of hope in their eyes than the emptiness of cynicism.
Like Ebenezer Scrooge from my most recent post, the Grinch is a reformed Christmas-hater who gets very little credit for his transformation. He differs from Ebenezer, though in that he ends up not only loving Christmas but thriving on being the center of attention (think, carving the “roast beast”).
You might be Grinch the Christmas Spender if..you care little for the noise and commercialism of Christmas, would like to toss all the frivolous Christmas toys and trinkets up the chimney, but you look forward year-after-year to spending time with loved ones at Christmas parties, playing games with the tots, and singing carols at the top of your lungs (even if you don’t have much of a caroling voice). You tend to spend money on Christmas activities rather than on things.
Christmas Tip: Be careful not to feed the monster within. It’s easy for Grinches to think that being the center of attention shows off their Christmas spirit. Don’t forget to let others share the spotlight as well, especially any aspiring Grinchlets in the home.
The protagonist in National Lampoon’s 1989 Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold attempts to engineer the perfect Christmas holiday, from placing tens of thousands of lights on his house to bringing home a ridiculously large Christmas tree, and from gathering far too many “characters” together at one dinner table to placing his hopes on a Christmas bonus in order to give the family the gift of a backyard pool. In the end (after his break down, of course), Clark realizes that the meaning of Christmas is not found in the gifts or the lights or the tree or even the food, but in his family.
You might be Clark Griswold the Christmas Spender if…you have a tendency to go more than a bit overboard with your Christmas plans (decorations, feasts, gifts, etc). You’re the consummate Christmas perfectionist. You purchase new Christmas lights every year, you love whatever the latest ornament trends are, and you have big plans for a big family Christmas gift.
Christmas Tip: Keep planning for perfection, but accept that you will have to improvise. Keep the ultimate goal in mind, remembering that decorations, music, food, etc. are the means to the end, not the end itself. As for your spending, budget for your decorations, ideally buying them the day after Christmas at a steep discount.
The Ghost of Christmases Past
In this case, DEBT is the ghost of Christmases past. The typical consumer who puts their Christmas on credit doesn’t pay the debt off until the following June. Since the Ghost of Christmases Past is anything but typical, he or she is perpetually in debt, continually putting each Christmas ornament, gift and meal on credit cards and store credit while digging their own financial pit deeper and deeper (apparently in preparation for the Ghost of Christmas Future to push us into).
You might be a Ghost of Christmases Past Christmas Spender if…you assume that you will pay for everything with credit and be further in debt than you were before. You also mistakenly assume that this is normal behavior for Americans across our great land. “Everyone does it, right?” Wrong!
Christmas Tip: Take a page from Santa’s book and make a list. Start by determining a realistic budget you can afford this season. Make a list of whom who will give a gift to. Write the amount of money you can spend next to each name on your list. Add gift ideas, and then take the list with you. Remind yourself how nice you’ll feel when you’re not naughty with your credit this year.
Frosty the Snowman
Frosty is our snow lover. He or she can’t wait for the first snowfall of the season or to run to the slopes. The perfect Christmas for Frosty is spent at a resort in the mountains (or at least at a cabin).
You might be Frosty the Christmas Spender if…you decide upon a location for your Christmas holiday first and then try to figure out how to pay for it second. The Frosty Christmas Spending Personality rarely lets price get in the way of the perfect Christmas vacation. They say first, “we’re going” and save the question, “how are we going to pay for this?” for later. Besides overspending on holiday travel and lodging, they can also easily let corresponding expenses get out of control, like clothing, meals, and souvenirs.
Christmas Tip: Focus on the loved ones before the beloved location. If the budget is tight, consider a Christmas staycation and save the trip for an off-season week with its off-season prices (the week BEFORE Thanksgiving is a great time to travel).
Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar
By tradition, these are the names of the three kings, or Magi, who brought gifts to the newborn king. As spending personalities, Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar give thoughtful gifts of meaning (usually faith-based) out of their “abundance.” This abundance might come from their earnings (gold) or possibly from the labor of their own hands (harvesting of aromatic tree resins for Myrrh and Frankincense).
You might be Melchior, Caspar or Balthazar the Christmas Spenders if…your gifts are based on religious traditions in general and Christmas traditions in particular. You may even be a collector of traditional Christmas symbols such as crèches, candles or bells.
Christmas Tip: While the three magi have been represented as kings with wealth to present precious gifts, most of us are not in such a financial category. If this is your spending personality at Christmas time, be careful not to let your penchant for collections get the best of you. It’s easy to let the tradition of collecting symbols take precedence over their ultimate meanings. If you must build upon a collection, build it into your budget (and savings plan) ahead of time so you have the money to spend on it for the holidays.
For most children, Santa is the ultimate symbol of Christmas. The giver of gifts, the friendly flying elf, and the jolly and generous gentle legend, Santa has an army (figuratively of course) of elves working almost year round to make the gifts he gives away in one night.
You might be a Santa Spender if…you tend to give away the workshop once a year and then need 11 months to recover. You’re a giver by nature, but Christmas still wears you out. Once the mayhem of Christmas morning is over, you feel like crawling into the nearest elf-pod for a long winter’s nap.
Christmas Tip: Don’t forget your list. Then, as you would with the Christmas tree, trim it! Cut your Christmas list down to a manageable size that does not necessarily include your uncle’s best friend’s cousin’s dog. Keep it sensible. Giving gifts with meaning is better than meaning to give gifts to everyone you know.
Did you find your Christmas spending personality? Feel free to share it in the comments below!
The Season’s Best Wishes Poem!
May you be of good cheer!
May the heavenly star continue far and near!
May your Christmas be white!
May mistletoe make the season bright!
May Christmas light and goodness to you bring!
May we hear our own angels sing!
May all people pray for peace every day!
May your troubles be miles away!
May there be joy in the world!
May you find warmth by the fireplace curled!
May peace on earth and mercy beam!
May you be where the love lights gleam!
May all your silver lanes be aglow!
May the season’s holly and jolliness flow!
May you always be within reach of a laugh!
May you find strength from the Season’s staff!
May you meet smile after smile!
May many friends with you gather awhile!
May you face your dreams unafraid!
May your hearth fires never fade!
May we celebrate the Season’s birth!
And may each soul feel its true worth!
Merry Christmas to all!