You Can’t Give What You Don’t Have

Birthday GiftA new thought occurred to me recently. That is, you can’t give what you don’t have.

For instance, if you come to my house and ask me for a can of Pepsi, you will be disappointed. I don’t have Pepsi, so I can’t give you any.

I’m sure most people will agree with this simple illustration. But let’s shift the discussion toward a sensitive topic: gift giving.

It is my belief that birthdays and Christmas are two big reasons people resort to credit and go into debt. I’ve run the numbers before. It’s quite easy to drop $50 to $100 a month on gifts. Real figures are probably more than that.

The trouble is, most of us don’t budget for gifts. And so when several birthdays fall close together… or it’s time to buy gifts at Christmas… it’s not uncommon to ask Visa or MasterCard to pay the bill.

But let me ask you a question. Are you giving the gifts? Or is the credit card company?

Instead of signing our gifts “From Dad & Mom” or “From Your Hubbie,” perhaps we should sign them “From Visa.”

Since many people have negative net worth (they have more debt than assets), then they really have no money with which to give. Therefore, it stand to follow that they cannot give what they don’t have.

For this reason (among others), I’m considering putting a temporary stop to gift giving. It just doesn’t make any sense to depend on credit to give gifts. Not only are you paying more than you should (because of interest on the revolving balance), you’re also delaying the time when you finally become debt free.

The biggest objection people will have to following this advice is the fear of what people will think. They will say you are being a Scrooge. But really, you probably have more to fear from mounting debt than people’s opinions. Something to think about.

P.S. I just finished re-reading Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol. Remember, Ebenezer Scrooge was wealthy. He actually had the means to give.