November 30, 2012

Now that Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday has past, is there any money left for a budget?

Oh oh. I think it’s supposed to be the other way around. Aren’t we supposed to organize a budget first before we spend money?

To answer the very first question, it’s never too late for a budget. A budget always tells the truth – or at least it will get us thinking about what we are doing with our money. But this is often the rub. We are scared about the truth. We don’t really want to know how much everything costs. We close our eyes, plug our noses and whisper to the glistening Christmas stars, “Give me a break. It’s Christmas. It’s time to feel good. It’s time to give. Remember, it’s in the giving that brings us happiness. I’ll worry about the bills later.”

Don’t laugh. Most of us throw our money sense out the window at Christmastime. We don’t want to worry anymore. We’ve worried about the nickels and dimes all year. ‘T’is the season to let your hair down my brothers and sisters.”

It truly is the buy now pay later season. “Don’t bug me about the details right now. I’ll get back to you.”

We want to give – to our friends and family all kinds of things throughout the year, but we hold back. We accept our limitations. We proceed with caution. We try to balance our budgets. For many of us, Christmas gives us a vacation from the worry, the penny pinching, the Scrooge like frugality that everybody really hates. And you know what? This is a great definition of the Christmas Spirit.

That said; hold the phone – shut the front door. The commercial message bombarding the airwaves about giving and buying things is not the same as giving from the heart – what we can afford and the most valuable gift of all, our time. We enjoy the time granted by employers, governments and society at Christmas – to see and be with our friends and family. This is the true spirit, the magical quality to Christmas that does not occur at any other time throughout the year.

Santa Claus with a sleigh full of endless gifts is a product of fiction. We believe in Santa because he makes us feel good. One of the reasons might be that Santa doesn’t have to worry about a budget. All the gifts just come from the charity of hard working Elves at the North Pole. What a wonderful thought?

The only downside – IT’S FICTION FOLKS. Santa Claus does not need a budget because he isn’t real.

This realization does not diminish the Christmas spirit in any way. What it means is that older children and adults understand that Santa isn’t real in the literal sense. He is a figurative representation. Santa is a symbol of giving freely without strings attached. This is something most of us want to believe in.

Maybe the best gift we can give ourselves and our families this year is a budget – a plan to avoid trouble, to lead us to prosperity, our children to post secondary education and the parents to early retirement.

But, it must be realistic and affordable. This is the tricky part. What do we really need? How much can we afford to spend?

The advice we all hear from the experts during this time is this. “Set down a budget for all the gifts. Remember that the children are the ones who expect gifts. The adults are a different story. They know that the gift-part of Christmas is for children, so, budget accordingly.”

-To Be Continued-

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