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Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

New year's bills can plague givers

Sunday, December 12, 2010

In a highly-unscientific and thoroughly informal survey, it appears the Christmas shopping season around here is relatively ho-hum. No bah, humbugs but no "too-busy-to-talk" crowds either.

I suspect this average holiday shopping season is a direct reflection of the overall economy which is shaky. Granted, lots of dollars are being spent in Sikeston and elsewhere this Christmas season. But many retailers expect the bulk of their year's sales to come this time of year, so crowds are predictable.

I've heard countless people say that this holiday season will be leaner than many in the recent past. But then again, I've heard that same refrain for a number of years. So I take those comments with a grain of salt because I know the temptation that awaits around the next corner when that "special" item jumps out at you in the store aisle.

The genuine concern this time of year is that today's shopping temptations make way for the massive bills when they come due early next year. Too many people labor under the assumption that they will pay for the Christmas shopping with an income tax refund this coming spring.

But the reality is that those tax refunds may well be needed for other essential items, i.e. utilities, etc. - and the stress to pay holiday bills may be just too much this year.

When emotions and reality collide, emotions often win. Thus is human nature. Christmas shopping is often an emotional issue and we are all guilty of postponing the reality for another day. But just as sure as the sun will rise in the east, that financial reality will strike many families across this land when the bills come due.

If you can't afford the latest cell phone with all of the gadgets or the largest flat screen television in the store, then don't make that emotional decision to buy it knowing the reality that will strike all too soon. Nothing but common sense and a little budgeting to make the holiday season much more enjoyable.

And on a final note, think of others this holiday season. I've seen countless stores with small displays where you can buy a toy for a less-fortunate child while you stuff your own stocking. Have faith that these charitable Christmas donations will indeed light up the face of a child and think of others.

It may stretch your pocketbook slightly but it will go a long way toward making you a better person and making someone's Christmas bright!

Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen