Money and Christmas: Memories and Resolutions
My parents were never very good with money, and throughout my life they have been in some serious debt. An overdraft was something that was normal, my dad having a wallet full of credit cards was normal. I knew from an early age that they were in debt, and the stress and misery that it caused.
As a child, I remember thinking my presents at Christmas were bought with more debt. I was grateful for my presents, and it was more than likely I got a few things from my list. I never wanted for anything as a child, but at the expense of my mum and dad’s happiness. Stress, anger and anxiety were commonplace.
My Dad declared himself bankrupt a few weeks before I started my nursing course. To get myself through university, debt was the only way I was going to get through it. I had to get a credit card in my first year of uni, because without it, I wouldn’t have been able to get home for Christmas. It was sheer necessity that led me to take out another 2 cards, and overdrafts on 2 current accounts. 3 years later, I had around £5,000 debt of my own. But I vowed that it was the last time I would get into that situation.
It was hard, but I paid back my overdraft monthly, paid off the credit Cards the same way. I even paid off my small student loan. I did it from the moment I started my job, so I never missed the money I paid back, as the wages I got were much more than my measly nursing bursary. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. But I had a plan, and I stuck to it. By the time I had been qualified 3 years, my debt was paid off.
I don’t have an overdraft now, and I am so glad. The money I spend is mine. I do keep a credit card open for emergencies, and since I’ve been on maternity leave, I have only used it a few times. Having only just gone back to work, and this being Bubs’ first Christmas, the temptation to go mad is there. To be honest, I go mad nearly every year, but I don’t want to go completely over the top. I want Bubs to appreciate things, I want her to see us using money wisely. I don’t want her to see us stressed about money, like I had to witness my whole life.
Yes, I do make mistakes, and yes sometimes I go mad and buy too much, or buy something on the credit card. But I know I have my limit. I can’t lose my mind and just go on a spending spree.
I understand that for some people, debt is still a necessity for survival. I’ve been there. I don’t mean to make people feel bad by writing this post, it’s just now I have got out of debt, I never want to go there again, and I don’t want Bubs to follow that path either.
I have bought Bubs a few presents, some stocking fillers and a main present. And that’s it. I don’t want her to be spoilt, and I am not going to buy things I can’t afford. This year, I have even pulled myself back from spending so much on my whole family. I am making a lot of presents myself.
Yet I know that other people (my mum and dad, my partners parents) will buy her lots of things. And in a way, I don’t want her to have so much. It makes me feel uneasy – especially as I know my parents are still in some financial difficulty. I have told family that from her birthday next year, she is not going to have any toys outside of her birthday and Christmas. I don’t want family buying her toys and gifts every other week – she won’t realise or appreciate them this way. I want her to realise that you can’t just get things, and yes I will reward her with activities, days out, and perhaps some toys in the future if she has done well at school, or behaved well for example. I just don’t want her thinking she can have it all, as everything comes at a price in this world.
I also want family to realise that spending time together, being together as a family, is worth so much more than stuffed toys and games. That’s what I craved from my parents. My whole life they bought us things as they felt guilty about not spending time with us. I just wish they knew they didn’t have to do this, for me or Bubs.
Maybe I sound like a grinch writing this, but I really do appreciate everything my family does for me, and the presents and gifts they get for Bubs. I just don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, and I want her to learn about money, and being sensible with it, from an early age. I don’t want to put myself in debt to make her happy for just one day of the year – I want to make her happy 365 days a year, and the way to do that is to stay as much as I can, in the black. Im not saying I’m perfect, I know that circumstances can change so quickly, who knows what the future will bring. But I’m going to try and do this as much as I can.