The 12 Days of Christmas Debt

Just to get everyone in a festive Christmas spirit allow me to offer, this cautionary tale of Christmas Debt.

The 12 Days of Christmas DEBT

12 Months of Agonizing Payments

Have you paid off last Christmas yet? How about the one before that?

11 Maxed Out Credit Cards

How much room do you have on those cards? Really?

10 Overdrafts a leaping

Really, how much are you paying in overdraft fees? Just because your bank balance can show a negative value, doesn’t mean it should always be that way!

9 Minimum Payments

You realize you will pay that off in 20 years with those minimum payments, or possibly 50 years? Minimum payments simply forestall the inevitable.

8 Balance Transfers

Shuttling debt from one credit card to another is not solving the problem. Juggling chainsaws will lead to a messy end, and that is what this is.

7 Cashed in Emergency Funds

Christmas debt is an emergency? Don’t think that is the emergency you were planning for.

6 Pay Day Loans

This could be starting a death spiral in your finances that will lead you to Day (3)

5 Gold Reclamations!

Did your Grandmother leave you that ring to help you cash it in for pennies on the dollar to pay off debt?

4 Calling Collection Agencies

These are not the bogus ones you get emails from, these are the real ones

3 Calls to insolvency trustees

They can help, but you can’t keep doing this every year either.

2 Calls to your family for an emergency loan

You do have to pay those back, you realize?

1 Mortgage Refinance

Using the equity in your house to pay for consumer debt is a very bad thing.

Yes, not very festive, but ultimately a bit too true. I go to Church and I am confident the Christmas season is not designed to bankrupt you. It is at time to get together with family and friends. 

Wonder why you dislike this time of season? How many of the Days of Debt on the list are you facing in January? 

{ 1 comment }

It’s A Wonderful Life (Financially?)

When the holiday standard It’s A Wonderful Life was first released it was pretty much panned as being too treakly sweet, and having no substance. The movie languished for many years, but thanks to a disinterest by its distributor, it started being played by local TV stations at Christmas time, and thanks to that it is now the Holiday Standard that it is today.

Amazon

If you wish to purchase this classic from Amazon Click Here


Now the main reason the movie became popular was due to its distributor not charging TV stations to air it, and thus the Local TV had free content to play during Christmas (and thus they made good coin off it with their own advertisements). The rest is history (right Uncle Willy?). There is a great deal to learn about banking in the USA in this movie if you look closely, but that is not the point of this piece. My favorite quote is from Nick talking to

“Hey look, mister. We serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast, and we don’t need any characters around to give the joint “atmosphere”. Is that clear, or do I have to slip you my left for a convincer?”

What does this have to do with Personal Finance and Investing? Indulge me this one is another one of my “Hail Mary” stretches of thematic premise.

Strangely Index Funds have been around for many decades (in one form or another), but it is only in the past 10 years or so (maybe less) that they have suddenly come into vogue.

If you are to believe the media Index Funds started with John Bogle and the Vanguard Group, in fact:

Bogle started the First Index Investment Trust on December 31, 1975

So almost 40 years ago Index Fund investing began. The beginnings were inauspicious, but as with “It’s a Wonderful Life” after many “experts” scoffing at the idea, Index Fund investing (or Couch Potato Investing, or one of its many other names) is mainstream and beloved by investors all over the world (OK, now I am pouring it on a bit thick).

{ 6 comments }

Give Ca$h not a Gift Card for Christmas

There does seem to be a backlash going on against the Gift Card industry this Christmas season, and I ( for one ), like it. Preet B. wrote about it yesterday in the Globe and Mail, however, I have said this all along. Why is there a stigma about giving cash and no stigma giving a gift card?

I asked my Christmas Gifting expert, Mrs. C8j and she said the big thing about cash is it seems like a Lazy Present (i.e. you didn’t feel like spending some time to find a nice present).  While I understand the sentiment about cash, I again say why are Gift Cards being viewed as “just fine” then?

Gift Card, Cash which is more appropriate

This is more personal than Cash? It’s at a Loblaws!

I can buy a gift card at my Loblaws for pretty much any store, in fact, I can do that at most Gas Stations now, why is that more personal than Ca$h?

Cash on the other hand, you usually have to go to a Bank to get. Banks are very exclusive, yes they may be open 7 days a week, but they close a lot more than most stores (and certainly more than most Gas Stations).

If you give Cash, you know it will get used, if you give a Gift Card, do you know how many gift cards never get completely used? I have no idea, but I am sure it is a huge number. Cash is friendly, fits in your wallet just like a gift card, and it has a picture of the Queen on it (or other important Canadians).

Give Ca$h this year, for Christmas.

{ 11 comments }

Advent, McAfee, Chanukah and #OldieButGoodie Tweets for a Sunday

Advent continues on merrily, hopefully you are having fun with it. If you have been reading my twitter feed, you have seen that I have resurrected my Financial Advent Calendar (from many years ago) in the land of 144 characters or less! It was fun when I did it a few years ago, hopefully it is still topical.

Happy Chanukah!

John McAfee may make some OK anti-virus, and may have made a lot of money from it, but his life currently is tabloid fodder. He has been accused of murder, he has been on the run and he eventually got found because a photographer posted a photo of Mr. McAfee, which had GPS co-ordinates in the meta-data. The Meta-data in any picture you post on the web should be wiped (if we learn anything from this interesting story). Hopefully Mr. Norton is leading a quieter life?

For those claiming there is a war on Christmas, lighten up, wish folks Merry Christmas and move on with your life. If there is a war on Christmas, Christmas is winning!

Happy Chanukah to my Jewish friends as well, I couldn’t find a video of Adam Sandler singing either Chunukah song.

Twitter Land

In my version of the Twit-o-sphere there were some quite interesting oldies that I found along with some retweets of some of my favorite writers:

Advent Calendar

Video

One of my biggest issues with my co-workers is the same problem that most women have with the men in their lives, they don’t listen, they try to solve problems too damn quickly! Don’t believe me? Watch this interesting video from our friends at Ted.Com

{ 2 comments }

Some More Christmas Ideas

Before I get a bevy of “right thinkers” complaining about how I am being insensitive talking about Christmas, tough! If you go into work on that day, you can complain, otherwise, lump it (sorry, I am sick and tired of this whole Holiday instead of Christmas right think that has consumed right thinking folks). I have no issue with Kwanzaa, Chanukah, or not celebrating it, just don’t get bent out of shape when I talk about Christmas.

No, that is not the topic for the day, but I figured I’d throw that out in case someone wants to complain to me about that, I’d take a pre-emptive strike on it.

Gifts you shouldn’t give your kids (ever) was a helpful post from a while back, and I have also spoken on this topic about asking the question Is re-gifting gauche, but here are some more really helpful tips for those who read financial blogs to find out great Christmas Gifts for their loved ones, and have no idea what to get for Christmas:

  • Fake your own death

    Apologies to my Druid Friends

    , given how much is spent on Christmas, this might not be that bad an idea. Disappear, and reappear in March claiming you have amnesia and pocket all of the money you would have spent on Christmas. A better idea, is take your Christmas money, and hide out somewhere warm and nice, but remember not to come back with a nice tan (that might be a dead giveaway). No this isn’t a new idea, I borrowed it from General Hospital (or Days of our Lives), I like to think of it as the Soap Opera Option.

  • I am too busy for Christmas, just never go and meet up with anyone who you might exchange gifts with until July of next year. You’d think this wouldn’t work but Michael James and I did this and we had Christmas in August this year (it works nicely). Claim you have a lot of work, or are on a business trip, or whatever.
  • Re-gifting, I still maintain this is the best thing to do for Christmas. You have to be careful that you have kept track of who gave you the gift originally, and once you start doing this, you can’t complain if you catch someone re-gifting to you (unless it is a gift you gave them), but it is the easiest money-saving Christmas gift idea.
  • Religious flip-flopping, can work if you do a little research first. Claiming you are now a Buddhist or a Druid can work for you, but you really must sell it hard or folks will resent you for it. On the Druid side of things, you can get out of impromptu Christmas things if there is a tree, and you can complain that adorning the tree is an insult to your religious beliefs, and leave in a huff.

Hopefully these helpful hints will aid you in saving a few bucks this Christmas Season. If you must give gifts, remember that Christianity is not based on the following tenet:

Love is measured by the price of the gift given

 

 

{ 2 comments }

%d bloggers like this: