When your Love Language and Responsibility Collide: Holiday Spending

Hi ladies! I’ve written before on “the 5 love languages” described by Gary Chapman. This is a tool to fill your “love tank,” as one dear friend calls it. The five languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Gifts, Physical Touch, and Acts of Service. Of course, you can “speak” different languages depending on your state in life, and even different dialects (gift- giving vs. gift-receiving), but all are meant to explain which ways best help you feel loved. Your mate can then “speak” your language and all will be merry in your loving relationship.

But what happens when your language is “gift-giving”… and you and your husband have a strict budget? And what happens when the wedding season has hit and Christmas is just around the corner?

Trouble, that’s what.

Here are some practical tips for being responsible with your language without breaking the bank or causing a lover’s riff.

  • Take a break from spending to clarify your language. I did this for a month, not buying any gifts for friends or my beau. I won’t lie, it was really difficult. I only spend impulsively if it’s for another person, and I love the smiles I receive when giving the random “This reminded me of you” gift. What I learned was that **surprise** there are OTHER ways to love as well. I gave more of my time, became stronger in my ability to serve, and ultimately realized I can “love” without spending. That being said, I did truly miss being able to find trinkets that told the other person they were present in my daily routine.

  • Keep an Envelope. I did this one year for Christmas. I made an envelope for each of my family members and put $20-$30 in each. When I went shopping, I took the envelopes and kept all the transactions separate, based on which member I was searching for. World Market satisfied Mom, Grandma, and a best friend. Walmart was great for my uncle and brother. A few Baskin Robbins fed my grandpa’s stocking. It was a great way to see, visually, what funds I had left for each person instead of lumping everyone together. That way, if I got more gifts for Mom than Dad, I could be sure that I still spent the same amount and not feel guilty.

  • Make a List. To avoid the impulse, gather a few gift ideas before you hit the stores. Browse hobbies, intellectual pursuits, unfulfilled dreams, and upgrades in quality. My brother loves cars so I head to Kragen Auto Parts for some ideas. My dad wants my time, so a planned picnic and outdoor jazz concert is in order. Mom is happy with anything crafty, so an outing together to gather moss in the mountains with a gift card to Michaels and a bouquet of flowers is a good idea. Grandpa loves travel but doesn’t read much. Grandma loves her grandchildren and learning new things….oh! How about a community center class on shrunken wool projects? No doubt she’ll make something for the kids for next year’s Christmas. Having trouble? Take it as a signal to get closer to the family or friend(s).

How To Deal With The Student Loan Mess

I have been waiting for a very important piece of mail for the past two weeks, so I’ve have been diligently checking the mailbox every day, like a small child waiting for his box-top cereal send-away prize. It’s almost pathetic. So far I only received grocery store mailer coupons. So imagine my glee when I was handed a white envelope from this afternoon’s mail. I flipped it over with such gusto I should have been looking for a lottery prize. Here’s the best part…not only was it NOT the mail I needed; it was a bill! Unbelievable! Welcome to being an adult. It was a “friendly” reminder that my loan repayment begins next month.

Having been to three schools for college, I have accumulated several federal and personal loans. It’s almost a job in itself keeping track of the repayment plans since some companies prefer online payments, some prefer a mailed check, some only do phone calls, some have paper reminders while others are e-mailed and paperless. The web of loans – while they definitely made a fantastic education affordable – is proving a growing annoyance.

Without giving too much personal information, I’ll share some financial secrets and tips for loan repayment if you find yourself in a similar situation. There are a few tricks to managing several loans at once and the best place to start is with organization.

Dedicate a file to “LOANS” and put all pertinent information in one place for reference. This could include signed Master Promissory Notes, deferment copies, letters from any loan shifting or lender-crossovers, etc.

Look at your planner, print out a calendar, or use your phone, but find someplace where you can see the whole month, or several at a time. Go through and find your payment due date. Usually it’ll be at the first of the month, like rent and other bills. Occasionally, like one of mine, it will be the middle of the month, or even the month’s end. Plot these dates on your calendar, using the actual due date AS WELL AS the send-off date. This is the date to mail in your payment so it arrives ON the due date. Most agencies will give a 2-3 day leeway for mail travel, but best not to test generosity.

If you’re mailing, it can be helpful to have labels made up ahead of time for the address of your agency, if they are not included with a repayment booklet. Make your own at home with a printer and label paper.  Return address labels can also make the process quicker. If this option isn’t attractive, at least keep the agency address in your “LOAN” folder…it makes for a much easier lookup than going to the website each month. Plain white envelops can be found at the $1 store, and be sure to cover your check (fold it in a piece of computer paper) before you send it.
About a week or so after the payment, follow up with your bank account to make the sure the money was successfully withdrawn.

Budget wisely, pay on time, and you should have hassle-free loan repayments!