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October 2003 - Birthday parties could deplete your wallet

Birthday parties could deplete your wallet

☳ by Adam Aspilla

When I was a child I remember that every time I celebrated my birthday my mother would behead a chicken and used the blood of the chicken to place a sign of a cross on my forehead. She did the same thing to my siblings. I did not know the reason why because she simply followed the practice of her parents. Birthday celebration has been a tradition worldwide since time immemorial.


Though the Bible did not mention of Jesus Christ and His followers celebrated their birthdays, some Bible characters however, did celebrate, like: the Pharaoh of Egypt (Gen. 40:20-22), in fact, on one of his birthday celebrations, he gave a feast and on the same occasion, he hanged his chief baker; while in the New Testament, King Herod celebrated his birthday (Matthew 14:611) and he ordered John the Baptist beheaded in prison as a gift to the daughter of Herodias.


There is nothing wrong in celebrating a birthday in a modest way for its essence is a thanksgiving for additional year to the life of the celebrant.


Nonetheless, on birthdays with lavish foods and preparation, it could do more harm financially than good to the host and to the guests as will. For the host, if he/she has no enough savings, he/she may resort to borrowing money just to finance the birthday celebration.


For the guests, they will be forced to buy costly gifts knowing that the celebrant is giving an expensive birthday party.


If you attend three or more birthday parties a month depending on the number of your circle of friends, you may be spending an average of $150 a month or $1,800 annually for the gifts alone aside from the cost of buying new attire. Said amount could surely deplete your wallet unless you are earning more than the average. Many simply overlook the expenses until they experience financial difficulty where a close look at their income and expenses is necessary.


I asked one of those who are in the habit of holding and attending expensive birthday parties of her motivation in giving a lavish birthday party. Her response, “aside from having a good feeling in socializing with friends and relatives, the value of the gifts I received is more than the amount I spent for the celebration.” I do not think that her response is typical of those who regularly celebrate birthdays.


Granting that the worth of the gifts received is more than the expenses for the celebration, still, the money spent for the party is not worthwhile; because you may not need some of the gifts you received. Moreover, in time of financial crisis, you could not convert gifts to cash.


Why not consider a simple birthday celebrations with only your close friends and relatives? 


Adam Aspilla is a Senior Financial Counselor of the Debt Clinic of Canada Inc. and the author of the book, You Can Negotiate All Your Debts. He also writes a biweekly column, “What Matters In Life” in “Taliba Newspaper. For free initial, professional and confidential consultation, please call 905-306-7572.