Thursday, December 9, 2010

A wiff of Cranberry and a battered bank account

Found this on "We the Savers Website".  Wish I wrote it, but did not.  What are your thoughts to this article?

The Holidays are a funny thing. It’s the time of the year when my desire to save and my compulsion to spend come to a knock-down, drag-out royal rumble. And when the smoke clears, there’s nothing left but a faint whiff of cranberry and a battered bank account.
Making the merry is pricey. Especially if you want to do things right. That means a real tree. And why not buy the big one? It’s only 20 bucks more. Oh, they sell real wreaths too? Better pick one up for the door. Yeah, you’re right. Both doors. Oh, the lights don’t work anymore. Better buy some new ones. What’s this? Inflatable Santas?!? Riding motorcycles?!? I’ll take two!
And that’s just dressing up the house. That doesn’t include traveling back east to visit family, all of the extra food bought for the various get-togethers, holiday pictures of the kids, and of course, the presents.
Oh, the presents.
When you have a kid, I think a blast email goes out to every toy company in America that says “send your catalogs to this address in a never-ending barrage of consumerism.” It’s pretty ceaseless year-round, but during the holidays, the number of and consistency with which catalogs hit our door climbs to epic proportions. Whole forests are in my recycling bin right now.
And my kids eat it up. My three-year old will quietly sit on the couch, studying a toy catalogue as though she was studying for the Bar Exam. I’ve never seen such grim determination in a little kid as she slowly devours an entire section of Barbie toys with her eyes. Ask her what she wants, and she points in the catalog and says “This, this, this, this, this, this, this, this…” — times infinity.
My wife and I are no better. It’s not that we want a lot of things. It’s that the things we want are really, really expensive. You know it’s bad when the least expensive thing on your wish list is a new iPhone (me) or a KitchenAid mixer (her). Needless to say, I don’t think a laptop or a motorcycle will be under the tree for me this year.
And of course, this year, the holidays are a little wonky. As I mentioned previously, we’re having a third kid. This addition, while welcome, will make our current car and housing situation obsolete. So the house is on the market, and a new car is on the horizon. I talked to my wife about not buying each other anything and the new car being “a Christmas present to each other,” to which she replied, “Okay…but I still want stuff under the tree.”
But if I’m honest with myself, I really want stuff under the tree, too.
So, we’re back to square one. Happy faces, and our bank account takes a flying elbow from the top rope to the face. We’ll do what we can, not using our credit cards (or paying them off immediately), not dipping into emergency funds, trying our damndest to stick to a budget (ha!), but the sad simple truth is that to get full of Holiday Spirit in November and December, you’d better be prepared to live off of Debt Ramen Noodles in January and February.

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