Tracey’s Debt: I’m Not Sure Santa Came

Tracey's huge and embarrassing as holidays approach

My eight-year old son woke me up on Christmas morning and said, “I think Santa came but I’m not sure. There is not a lot of presents.”

This was my first Christmas since starting this journey to control and eliminate my huge and embarrassing debt.

My first reaction to my son’s words was frustration.  Deep down I felt this twist in my stomach thinking that in some way I was not being a good mom by providing my kids with this over-the-top Christmas morning like the kind we watch on YouTube.

But on the outside I looked at my son and by using the art of distraction I asked him to take me to see what Santa had brought for everyone.

I walked into my living room and really looked around the room.  I saw a Christmas tree full of ornaments that each means something to my family.

I have an ornament from Radio City Music Hall when we saw the Rockets in New York for the first time.  I have a surfing Santa to represent the state of Hawaii where my daughter was born.  There is an ornament of Elvis because my husband is such a big fan.

Plus there was an ornament from our first Christmas together more than 16 years ago. At the back of the tree are those tacky ornaments from my Mother-In-Law– but all and all a pretty memory-filled tree.

I started a fire in the fireplace, put the breakfast casserole in the over, lit the candles, and made coffee.  We sat around the tree each taking our time opening gifts, some were silly, and some were on the top of the wish list…Legos! B

ut the best gift was having my usually deployed husband home to actually open gifts with us.

I think my son was a little disappointed that our living room didn’t look like an explosion of gifts as it did last year, but I hope in the long run I will be teaching him that money in the bank, living within our means and being thankful for what we do have it more important than stuff.

I must admit this is not easy. In reality this is the hardest thing I have ever done because of the long commitment.

I am a short-term, immediate gratification kind of girl.  Just the fact that paying off my debt and solving my money problems will take me years and not months is frustrating.

But it did take me years to get into this mess, so I will use patience a new found skill and continue to commit!

I hope 2014 will be my best year yet and I hope if you are carrying any debt please make the commitment to be free of the burden.  We already sacrifice so much as military spouses I am taking debt off my list of stressors…OK, not soon, but eventually!


About the Author

Tracey’s Huge and Embarrassing Debt is a new series starting on SpouseBuzz. Tracey is a military wife who attended one of our live Spouse Experience events and was inspired to make a life change. As she and her family work with USAA’s Scott Halliwell and JJ Montannaro, they will all be blogging about how military families really can get out of debt — one tiny change at a time.

3 Comments on "Tracey’s Debt: I’m Not Sure Santa Came"

  1. Brunella Costagliola | January 17, 2014 at 8:51 am |

    I know how you feel. You get used to certain life style and then you find yourself thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt. However, debt-free life can be achieved. I can tell you because after 2 years of making major cuts to silly expenses, my husband and I are about to pay off our last debt at the end of the month. Here's to a debt-free 2014 for all of us!

  2. This year was a small Christmas compared to previous ones for us too. Between a very sick dog who almost died and cost over a grand in early December, to us preparing for retirement, it was a unanimous decision to go little this year. Our 8 year son old was happy with an RC car and a variety of dollar store toys, for our 14 year old son we were able to score an HP laptop for $178 on black friday at the Exchange and our 17 year old daughter got an Apple iHome (black friday deal at Exchange as well), and a wallet. As for my husband and I, we spent under $20 each. The point is, whether tackling huge debt, facing retirement, or just keeping it small, I think the reward is so much greater knowing we have each other, which is what we have always taught the kids. And honestly, this year, I think we all appreciated each other a bit more because we were not all being dazzled by an over abundance of things, most of which would be forgotten by now.

  3. Or rather she wants to teach her kid not to be a greedy pissant. Huge piles of Christmas presents do NOT make you a good parent. Financial stability, a reduction in arguments due to finances…which generally leads to a divorce, and an understanding of money and financial planning make for a well rounded child; one that will be a value to society instead of being one like you apparently that thinks "stuff" equals love and personal value. I think you need a little therapy young.

    I grew up dirt poor, never got more then 3 presents at Christmas in my life, one was a need, like shoes, one was a want, and the other was whatever my mom found on after Christmas clearance the year before. The one thing they DID give me was an appreciation and understanding of debt and finances, they never hid their dirt poorness from me and included me in family financial decisions. It gave me resolve to succeed, because I never wanted to question whether I could feed myself. Now, in my 30's my husband and I both have careers, several properties, and a net worth higher then most retirees.

    You go ahead and raise those greedy entitled kids young, just don't expect those of us that are RESPONSIBLE to bail them out when they can't pay their bills.

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