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Suggestions to Avoid Being an Overspender

December 03, 1987

There is every good reason to give gifts at Christmastime, but some people just carry it too far and find themselves in great financial trouble at the end of the holiday season. Subsequently, merchants find the "overspender" a problem too, when they aren't compensated for the merchandise they provided for the overgenerous gift giver.

If overspending is a problem, here are some tips to help curb the desire to go overboard:

--If you use credit to purchase Christmas and Hanukkah gifts, limit your purchases to one card for easier tracking.

--Ask yourself whether you can afford the monthly payments. Try to pay the balance in full rather than stringing out the payments over the year.

--Consider giving goods or services (a certificate for baby-sitting, walks with an elderly friend, etc.). --Try not to make up for the whole year at Christmas--spread out the giving.

--Consider drawing names to avoid having to purchase so many gifts.

--Set a mutually agreed-upon price to be spent on gifts to be exchanged, particularly among friends, to avoid the competitive aspect of gift-giving.

--Shop year-round for bargain gifts and maintain a "gift drawer."

--Bake or craft items.

--Give practical items.

--Join a Christmas club (for next year).

--Make Christmas dinner a potluck affair.

--Suggest white elephant (or green reindeer) gifts for the Christmas party.

--Try to avoid the need to "equalize" gift-giving: Value yourself enough to say to yourself, "If that person wants to give me that expensive gift, then I must deserve it."

--Look at your own motivations for giving overly expensive gifts: Are you trying to buy acceptance?

--Realize that there is more power in being the giver than the receiver. Are you attempting to use overgiving as a way to gain or maintain control of a relationship?

--Openly discuss the subject of gift-giving with close friends and family, exchanging thoughts on what makes people uncomfortable ("It really makes me uncomfortable when you . . . " or "I really don't want you to pay it back. . . , " etc.). The closeness that ensues from such sharing may be the best gift of all.

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