Many people would argue that this time of year is one that is supposed to be about giving, and remembering the important things in life. However, the truth is that the holiday season has evolved (or devolved?) into a materialistic homage to commercialism. We are expected to buy, buy, buy. It becomes difficult not to think about things, especially since we are surrounded by encouragement to spend money to get more stuff.
One of the devices that helps us spend more money is, of course, the credit card. While this time of year can be a good time to accumulate some credit card rewards, it is also the time that many people end up racking up a great deal of debt -- all in the name of buying more stuff. And let's be real: It doesn't matter that you are "earning money" with your MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard. If you carry a balance into the new year, chances are that the interest you pay will more than overcome any cash back you get.
Credit Card Use Contributes to Materialism
Because credit card use makes it so easy to spend money, rather than save money, it is one of the reasons that materialism has grown so much in our society. After all, a credit card makes it "affordable" to buy things you might not normally consider spending money on. Your credit card provides you with a way to buy more stuff now -- and pay it off (with interest) later. It makes it easier to keep up with the neighbors, or to buy your kids the Christmas presents they "deserve."
It also means that some might try to buy impressive gifts for people, or that they might buy more stuff for their significant others. But, really, how much is enough? Is it really necessary to get into debt just so that you can get into the "spirit of Christmas"? And how does getting into debt help you get into the spirit of the season anyway? Credit card use has contributed a great deal to lifestyle inflation, transforming many of what used to be wants into "needs".
Saying No to Materialism
There is no reason to have a credit card Christmas. You don't need to build up debt to impress someone else, or to increase the amount of stuff that your family has. You can choose to say no to materialism. One thing you can do is ask your family to participate with you in giving "ungifts." You can narrow your gift list down, and you can focus on more meaningful gifts. A thoughtful, yet inexpensive gift, can mean more than an costly gift that doesn't really take into account the relationship between giver and recipient. Consider a "homemade Christmas" in which you exchange gifts made by givers, or service gifts.
Instead of putting more on your credit card, and fueling the materialism that we see around us every day, consider what you can do to reduce the use of debt this time of year, and promote more meaningful giving.
This post was included in the 14th Canadian Finance Carnival at Canadian Finance blog. It was also included in the Best of Saving Money and Credit Cards at Card Wisdom and at My Personal Finance Journey, and in the Success and Self Reliance Carnival.