Who's the Daddy: No magic money tree exists
Have you got a minute?
I think we need to have a little word before it all starts. We have this chat around the same time every year. Some of you listen and some of you don’t. But behind this column’s cynical and world-weary exterior, it has always looked out for you. So listen up.
Do not, under any circumstances, get yourself any deeper into debt than you already are to pay for Christmas. I know what you’re like, the first jingle of a sleigh bell and the merest whiff of a mince pie and you’re hammering the plastic like the money’s not real.
It is. It’s very real. Realsies. And APR doesn’t stand for “a pile of readies”. You know those banks with skyscrapers that look like something out of a toddler’s toy box? You pay for those with all the interest and charges from your credit cards, loans and overdrafts.
The best present you can give your family this Christmas is to sit down and write a plan of how you’re going to be debt-free in a specified number of years. Let’s say three. Imagine that, no debts and you get to keep everything you earn for the rest of your working life. Think of all the good you could do with it.
A practical way to start your journey to financial freedom is to stop buying stupid c**p that you and your family don’t need. Just stop it. Right now. Christmas these days feels less like a celebration and more like an annual transfer of money from the poor and the middle class to the rich. Buy all these, drink all that, eat all this.
And outwardly it’s all shizzles and giggles, only with the nagging doubt at the back of your mind that whispers “how in God’s name are you going to pay for all this?” until the grimmest day of the year arrives in mid-January when the credit card bills land, it’s dark at 3.30pm and after a few weeks of eating like a pig and drinking like a fish, you can only fasten your trousers after what feels like a fight to the death. Please, just stop, before it’s too late. After last year’s non-event the temptation is to say “whack it on the plastic and tomorrow will take care of itself.” But it didn’t last January, did it? And there’s no magic money tree to bail you out now.