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Holiday Giving Without Debt

  • Published
  • By Col. Timothy Zadalis
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Commander
Holidays are a traditional time for gift giving and showing how much you care about others. However, it's very easy to get into a financial bind by overextending yourself.

Often, we think it's the expensive gift that means the most when sometimes it's more of a gift of yourself that means more to that individual.

There are advertisers out there that would love nothing more than to be able to take your money and to sell you something very nice. It's very easy to get caught up in the season of giving and spending. But, if you overextend yourself you could regret it for the next 11 months. It all boils down to common sense. The gifts that mean the most may not necessarily be the gifts that cost the most. The gifts that have the most meaning are gifts from the heart. And many times, those gifts mean much more than the latest gadget.

At my last base there was an individual who overextended himself when purchasing a vehicle. Though not associated with Christmas, we can all learn a lesson from this. He purchased an SUV that was more than he brought in per month for his base pay. He then was going to have to sell the vehicle at a huge loss. The unscrupulous dealer convinced him to buy the vehicle and wasn't going to let him out of the deal. The Airman hadn't spoken to his first sergeant. He took a $5,000 to $6,000 loss just to sell it and get rid of the debt burden. He got caught up in the desire to have a really nice car.

There are many stories like this one, and we are all susceptible to the great sales pitch, the newest item and advertising. Sometimes you just have to stand back and look at your budget. Look at what you can afford so this holiday won't be a burden on your finances for the rest of the year.

Credit cards are another challenge that make it so easy to purchase things outside of our means. They are a challenge you will live with for the next year as you pay it back along with interest. People pay hundreds of dollars in interest every month. But, if they carefully budgeted their spending that would be money in their pocket and not in the credit card company's treasury.

Be wise in your spending and take the time that you deserve. You have worked hard, and this is a time to appreciate our accomplishments, spend time with our families, and celebrate this holiday season.

Be SAFE and ALWAYS be there for your WINGMAN.