Today I received an e-mail from my friend which included a holiday dinner invitation and a tentative question which I have been pondering all day.
She asked if we could consider having a no-gift exchange Christmas this year, as she simply can’t incur more debt. I haven’t responded, because I haven’t talked to my husband about it, yet, but I applaud her gumption to ask a hard question. In the past, we had given each other limits on our presents (around $25 to 30) or, for two years, we did “Poor Christmas” where we agreed to only purchase things after Christmas when it was on sale and that no item in our baskets could be more than $5.
I enjoyed those times, and I am sure that we will accept her request, but I do find it interesting that last year, when my husband and I hit our major wall right before Christmas, we didn’t make the same request. As it was, we ended up accidentally outspending her by a factor of 4 to 1, because we didn’t make any limits that year (which was silly in retrospect), and I know that there was discomfort when it came time for the present opening at our annual gathering.
But it has made me think about how much more we should be open to having these agreements when people are in positions that require they make wise financial decisions.