The Best Christmas Gift of All

As I sit here surrounded by torn wrapping paper, empty boxes, and a room full of children happily playing with Game Boys and puzzles and Matchbox cars, it occurs to me that this is the first Christmas since I was still in school where I didn’t have an underlying nervous sense of worry about how I was going to possibly pay for all of the gifts.

I know that many of my family members used plastic to cover their Christmas gifts. One friend of mine actually did a house refinancing to get rid of the credit card debt of this Christmas and of Christmases and other unnecessary purchases.

It is a deep psychological relief to not have to worry about any of that. I just stick to one basic principle – spend less than you earn – and I work as hard as I can to make that gap between what I earn and what I spend as big as I can. The end result of that is financial freedom – the ability to do the things I want to do.

Financial freedom isn’t about the best way to manage your bank account – it’s a tool to get there.

Financial freedom isn’t about optimizing your investments – that just ensures that your money is doing good things for you.

Financial freedom is about being able to sit here with a glass of egg nog, watching a house full of people enjoy their Christmas presents, and not have the slightest bit of worry about anything more than when the traditional Christmas ham is going to be done.

It also means that I can give the gifts I truly want to give without worrying about the money, and it means I can sit here and laugh and smile and eat Christmas cookies without any real worry in my heart.

It’s truly the best Christmas gift of all.

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17 thoughts on “The Best Christmas Gift of All

  1. CTD says:

    Hey Mr. Hamm,

    I wish you a very merry Christmas, and all the best from me to you, and you family.

    I moved to Vancouver in the beginning of 2007, and I was in a huge financial whirlpool. Barley could cover the costs of the groceries unless I went the route of payday loans. Luckily enough, I found your blog.

    Been following your advice, and a few other good choice sources (my credit union adviser has been a real ally to me), and now I sit here, waiting for the turkey to thaw, and enjoy boardgames with my girlfriend and roommates. All of this, and no worries on how I will be surviving in the next few months.

    Many thanks, and can’t wait to read more posts.

  2. I know how you feel.

    Nothing is worth going back in debt for.

    It’s so peaceful when you don’t owe anyone anything.

  3. feefifoto says:

    Wish I had your consistent restraint.

  4. Danny says:

    I can’t wait until my wife and I are out of college and can get real jobs and pay off our student loans.

    Some day I want to have the same feeling you to today, Trent. Thanks for all the good work.

    Merry Christmas everyone!

  5. Derek says:

    Hey, I just wanted to say that your blog is great. You give great advice for us “normal people”. Please check out my new personal finance blog if you have time. Happy Holidays!

    http://learningtoberich.blogspot.com/

  6. jmacdfaddio says:

    What a good feeling! I spent about three hours total on my Christmas shopping and my purchases will be a minor blip on my financial radar. Granted, I don’t have kids of my own or nieces or nephews to buy for (yet), however I think kids could be relatively cheap to buy for despite the latest Tickle Me Xbox phenomenon that’s sweeping America. Good going, enjoy these moments, and Merry Christmas to everyone!

  7. Jason says:

    Amen! My wife and I started our own “Christmas Club” account, sinking a few dollars each paycheck into a designated account for next year’s Christmas shopping. No more wondering how I’ll cash flow another Christmas without going deeper into debt!

  8. T.Brown says:

    Criminy. Refinancing a house to pay off (in part) debt from buying Christmas gifts?

    Here is what my gut says: if people really love someone, they won’t expect that person to go into debt to buy them presents. If they don’t understand the meaning of “living within one’s means” and “getting established in life”, then they’re probably not people one wants to have a huge emotional investment in.

  9. Debbie says:

    That is a good feeling! My husband and I only spent what we had decided we could and with a lot of hard work and tons of saying “no” we became debt-free except for the mortgage on Dec 24th! Now that is a great Christmas gift to ourselves!

  10. Writers Coin says:

    Merry Christmas Trent. Getting through Christmas without significant financial scars is a great accomplishment. On to the new year!

  11. Kelsey says:

    Since we’re not debt free yet (probably another couple years away for us) and expecting a baby any day now, we decided to not buy presents this year. We got a little something for each of our mom’s and one of our young nephews (using cash we had available) but that was it.

    We’re looking forward to celebrating the holidays with a few more gifts in the future, but only when we can afford to buy them. We encouraged our family members who are also in debt to skip the gifts this year. Everyone was thankful not to have the pressure to give gifts and go further into debt.

    I didn’t miss getting caught up in the consumer holiday and facing the crowds at the mall! Plus, we focused on the real reason for the season :)

  12. That must be a great feeling! You are truly inspirational… maybe its time to sit down and have a heart to heart with this ReFi buddy of yours :)

    Here’s to a new year of financial responsibility, Cheers!

  13. John in Dallas says:

    I could not agree more. My wife and I achieved financial freedom a couple of decades ago, and have held on ever since. We’re certainly not misers, but we’ve always spent much less than we earn. I’m positive our stress level is so much lower than that of our relatives. I wish they could enjoy this feeling.

  14. Sylvia says:

    I’m so glad you had a wonderful Christmas that was worry free. We also had a debt free Christmas. May God bless your family!

  15. Tim says:

    This is truly the light at the end of the tunnel! All those sacrifices made during the year so Christmas can be the extravagent holiday we all expect it to be. If it works for you, it can work for the rest of us.

    Thanks for all your advice for the past year, and all of the best seasons greetings to you and your family.

  16. Artemis says:

    My husband and I are relatively debt free. We use credit cards that are paid off monthly and give us some kind of reward like cash or cash. The best Christmas gift given this year was summer sausage and Slim Jim style stix. These are favorite foods of our 7 teenage grandchildren. And there is nothing more added to the accumulation of stuff.

  17. Annie says:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours

    Don’t ask me how I found it, but have been getting your newsletter for quite some time
    now. We are almost living on what we have
    coming in and your letter gives me hope—you’re
    a great writer–keep on writing. I do have one question–my dad’s life insurance wasn’t 20 yr. level—it was only 10 yr. and he’s in a nursing home–there is no way my mom nor with our help, can afford a jump from $210 per quarter to $1200 a quarter, which is now what it will be—what are her options here. I was informed by the agent who handled this policy that no one will cover him now because of alzhimers/dementia. Any advice/help would greatly be appreciated. Keep on writing—I am reading my first Dave Ramsey book–finanacial peace–very good—saw it mentioned on one of your newsletters. thanx a bunch and God bless and have a prosperous vital New Year! Annie

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