finance

"My expensive Christmas habit is ruining my bank account. But I can't stop."

My name is Elyssa and I have the mentality that for Christmas gifts I must break the bank in order to show people that I care.

I’m 21, I have a car loan to pay off, I have rent to pay and I’m trying to live a life with my admin job and (very small) income coming in from advertising on my blog.

I try to live within my means all year long… until it hits Christmas and my mind is taken over by the mentality that the only way to show the people I love that well, I do love them is with expensive gifts. Somewhere along the way I got it into my head that the expense of a gift equates to the amount of love I have for my family members and I am sure I am not the only one.

I have done it every Christmas without fail since I started earning my own wages around the age of 14, living outside of my means in order to shower my family with expensive gifts that they probably don’t need.

In my family we do “secret” Santa, quotation marks because we all know who picked who and it is never a secret for more than 10 minutes. There is probably no need to go through the motions of secret Santa because by Christmas someone says they have brought everyone gifts and all of sudden the pressure is put on everyone else to rise up and buy every single member of the family a gift, even the dog.

This year I decided it would be different and I’d come out the other side of the silly season with my bank account relatively unscathed. I set myself rules in the three month lead up to Christmas. And today, halfway through December, I have officially broken all of them in the name of giving good Christmas gifts.

Rule 1: Set budget: no more than $100 per person.

Out the window a month ago if I am being honest. I spent $200 on my mum’s overnight bag, $150 on a necklace for my mother-in-law, and my dad got $100 Bunnings gift voucher.

THEN I also put $200 into a joint present for my parents after already buying them gifts. I have five siblings: one got $90 pair of shoes, two got monogrammed items for around $50 each (under budget baby!!) but the other two I haven’t even brought for. I also haven’t bought my boyfriend a gift nor his brother. When I said “$100 per person” what I really meant was “for some people” i.e. My younger siblings who don’t really understand the concept of money and would be happy with something that was either Harry Potter or a monster truck.

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Rule 2: Buy gifts from one site to save on shipping costs.

I was not aware that some places really do still slug you for shipping until I copped a $39.95 charge and this rule was put in place immediately. This rule was also immediately thrown in the bin when I realised that I could buy no more than two gifts from The Iconic. Simple, I am currently awaiting the arrival of four packages from four different stores and the post office is going to be seeing me on the regular in the lead up the Christmas.

Rule 3: Don’t use your Afterpay account for Christmas items.

I am an avid lover of Afterpay, I would put it down as one of the best inventions ever for the people in the world who cannot afford the expensive lifestyle that they so desperately want. I have two Afterpay transactions I am currently paying off, both Christmas gifts, cleverly scheduled so the payments come out on alternating weeks. While that was smart on my account, I did break my final rule.

To be fair, my family probably are not fussed in the slightest how much the gift I give them cost me, it is well and truly my mentality that has gotten me into this mess of expensive Christmas gifts. While my mentality may never change, maybe it is time to set up a saving account specifically for my Christmas spending.

For more from Elyssa Giedraitis follow her on Instagram, Facebook and her blog The Introvert Archive

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