It's less than a week before Christmas, the time of the year when Americans rack up consumer debt to buy presents that no one really needs. Americans' average credit card debt is now $7,193. However, that number is not really accurate. In fact, the real average of households that have debt is $15,418. (The $7K figure includes households that have NO credit card debt.)
Shoppers plan to spend an average of $854 for gifts this December, up from $646 last year. What I'd like to know is whether that is $854 per person or per family. Listening to the amounts people spend on various family members, I'm thinking that it's probably per person.
What I find most sad about how much people spend on Christmas is how many useless or unneeded gifts they purchase. How much money do we waste on gifts that the receiver does not want? I suspect that many of the frivolous items on gift lists in magazines and on the Internet are not wanted or appreciated by the recipient. And I always wonder how many people actually spend that much money on their family and friends.
Here are a few examples:
$195 Figue clutch for your girlfriends or a $495 bicycle for your sister (from Glamour gift list). Do you spend $200 on each of your friends, or $500 on your sister? And even if you did buy a bicycle for your sister, don't you think she might want to pick it out herself?
$149 Star Wars cufflinks from redenvelope.com. I know my nephews would love these for their piano recitals!
$2,900 Gucci bag from Lucky magazine's list. I know I'm probably strange, but I CANNOT stand designer bags, although I do like bags and purses. I think nearly all expensive designer bags are awful!
Here's another lovely designer bag--this one faux fur from Ralph Lauren--only $105!
$2,800 Gucci iPad case in crocodile skin--just what I've always wanted!
It's a good thing I'm not on Pinterest. Sounds like that site has a plethora of ridiculous gift ideas on it! My blogging friends at the Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms blog featured some of these ridiculous Christmas gift ideas in Pintershit...Holiday Edition. Ellen and Erin are hilarious, and I feel so thankful to have found their blog and others through the Monday Listicles group (sponsored by Stasha at www.northwestmommy.com).
I love buying and making gifts for people, but I would hate to give a gift that the recipient does not want or need. We've been trying to do "experience gifts" for our kids as much as we can for both birthdays and Christmas, or at the least get them what they are asking for. But even with that, we limit how much we spend. None of our kids are getting iPads this year! But a few years ago we got Chris a new drum set for Christmas, and last year he got tickets to Coldplay...so it's not that we never spend a small fortune on gifts. But I'm hoping they are learning that Christmas is more than getting everything they ask for. Those big ticket items are exceptions rather than the Christmas rule.
I wish that our culture was not so materialistic and focused on the latest, greatest gadget. I wish that we all focused on homemade gifts instead of electronics or expensive accessories. I wish that people did not spend money they do not have in order to give gifts that other people don't need.