I canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t forget what happened on Christmas eve in 2006. Not far from where we were staying in England, there was a shop that sold exquisite ladies wearÃ¢â‚¬â€of course, at a rich manÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s price. Every time we went to church, my wife would prefer us to walk via that route to see if anything was on promotion. She would then say Ã¢â‚¬Ëœkoma umu ndiye mumakhala zovala zenizeniÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (This is where you can find befitting clothing). Sometimes when we sat in church, she would point out, Ã¢â‚¬Ëœawotu avala za mu shop ijayiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (that one is putting on clothes from that exquisite shop). I would pretend I had not heard and would be singing the hymns loudly as if I was enjoying every verse of the hymn, when my mind was actually far. I knew my wife was just picking on me because she is not the demanding type. She is actually the extreme opposite.
So when I got the December pay, I wanted to show that I am the real man. I went into the shop and bought two of the most exquisite suits costing around Ã‚Â£400 each (close to K120,000 each). So, very early in the morning of Christmas, I went Ã¢â‚¬Ëœ surprise, surprise, my wifeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢. She woke up and got the well-wrapped packs. Ã¢â‚¬Ëœoh! You are so sweet!Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ she started unwrapping straight away. Suddenly, her face turned red. Ã¢â‚¬ËœHow much have you bought these for?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ she asked. Ã¢â‚¬ËœWe donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t reveal the price of a giftÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ I quickly responded while whistling comfortably. I realised I had forgotten the price tags on the suits. Ã¢â‚¬ËœThomas, I am not laughing here. If I may ask you, do we have a house back home? Do we have something you can show as an investment anywhere?Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ I looked at her and realised this was hard-talk.
My Christmas gift, though well intended, had brought me psychological misery. I thought very hard on what she said and those words keep on ringing loudly fresh in my mind. Since then, I hardly buy her anything during festive season.
The long and short of the story is that the tradition of overspending and excessive gift buying during Christmas and New year seasons can leave people indebted and with a sense of frustration and disappointment.
How can we then ensure that our spending does not get out of control during the festive season?
Know what you can afford to spend, and stick to it. Review the list of people you intended buying gifts for. Calculate how much you have available to spend per person. Stick to this budget!
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t buy gifts for colleagues or neighbours if you will be over-strained. Try to find gifts that would suit the person you are buying for, whether the gift relates to a hobby they may have or something useful. Gift vouchers are a good gift to give. Should you not give it to someone as a gift, you can always use it yourself.
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t borrow money to buy gifts.
In future, try to buy gifts throughout the year instead of during the festive season. This way, you can compare prices and only buy when the item you want is on promotion.
Buy one or two Ã¢â‚¬ËœgeneralÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ gifts that you can use whenever you need to give a gift to someone during the year. Wrap these and keep them on hand for those emergency situations that sometimes occur.
Consider not eating out on Christmas day or New YearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s.
Have a worry-free Xmas and prosperous New Year!!