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Holiday Debt

posted on December 11, 2007 at 11:17 AM


Although Phil and Cindy Blobaum's thrifty financial practices are born of necessity, the Holiday traditions they share with their four children fit their personal philosophy. The Blobaums create bounty and avoid debt by sticking to a budget and focusing on creating memorable experiences.

In the interests of full disclosure. Phil Blobaum is an employee of Iowa Public Television. We know his family's story, and thought it important enough to share at a time when many Iowans are finding the road to thrift blocked by a season that often encourages extravagance.

NARRATOR: A holiday tradition that can last the year long with interest is the overspending of the green. Holiday extravagances exacerbated by increases in energy costs can add up to debt and despair that long outlive the seasonal good cheer. However, not all Iowans view debt as a Yule tradition.

Embracing the simple joys of the season is one of the ways this Des Moines family avoids the perils of holiday debt. Although Phil and Cindy Blobaum’s thrifty financial practices are born of necessity the holiday traditions they share with their four children fit their personal philosophy.

Phil: My philosophy is that you save it when you need it the least and have it when you need it the most.

Cindy: Phil and I both come from frugal backgrounds with jobs that have never paid tons of money. In fact right now we're a single income family plus whatever I earn with my occasional part-time job and by not ever having a lot of money we know how to make the best of what little we do.

NARRATOR: The Blobaums create bounty and avoid holiday debt by sticking to a budget and focusing on sharing memorable experiences.

Phil: I think we decide that we don't plan on giving extravagant gifts that we decide that our spending will be-

Cindy: Reasonable.

Phil: Yeah, reasonable.

Cindy: And the kids know from me their gift is going to see a show. I'm giving them something special, but it really helps control my spending too because I'm not out there shopping in the malls all the time.

NARRATOR: Choosing to spend time with friends at their annual Christmas cookie baking party is a tradition the entire family loves to celebrate.

Cindy: The Christmas cookie baking party-

Anna: Friends come over.

Cindy: Friends come over and what do you want to say?

Lee: They bring their own recipe and the whole family.

Cindy: They bring a recipe and the whole family and they make cookies in our kitchen and everybody has to help decorate them or cut caramels, wrap caramels, cut fudge so everybody's partying and playing and doing all sorts of things and then everybody takes cookies home.

Phil: And our tree and our house is decorated.

Cindy: I started it because I was poor and I wanted to invite friends over but couldn't afford to throw a party. So, I told them all to bring their cooking ingredients over to my house. It was a cold snowy night and we were baking cookies until four a.m. It was a great time and grew out of that. We can now afford to buy all the ingredients and tell people just bring a recipe.

NARRATOR: The Blobaums are committed to debt-free living year-round and achieve their goal by spending within their means.

Cindy: We try not to have debts. The only one we have is on our house. That's the only bill we have to pay besides monthly bills. We both have pretty strict budgets where we know where our money goes every month and there's not a lot left over, but there's enough that we're not hurting. Especially since we have a savings account for emergencies, but don't go out to eat a lot. We don't have high speed internet. We don't have cable TV. We don't have cell phone. Those are choices we made. Not to have those on a monthly basis, those bills so that we can take family vacations every year, we can save for college and we have a good life.

Phil: I would say wealth to me would be I don't have to look over my shoulder at creditors coming at me. I have wealth in that I don't have to worry about that.

Cindy: We're happy, we're healthy, we have a home over our head, clothes on our back, food on our table, and the ability to do what we want to, when we want to basically just by managing our money all the time.

NARRATOR: Taking time to take care of their money has earned the Blobaums many rewards. They value sharing their good fortune with others.

Cindy: I have found that people like to do things together. It's not whether you give them something or you host a lavish party. They like to get together and I think that's how we celebrate most occasions is we try and do something together and that's how you create memories and that's where "real wealth" lies.

Family: Happy Holidays.

Tags: advice bankruptcy consumerism debt finance holidays Iowa

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