I was waiting in line at my local BestBuy, buying a new hard drive for my computer, when I overheard two people talking behind me. I’m not usually the nosy type, but this time the line up to pay was taking a long time and it was hard not to listen. I’m glad that I eavesdropped, however, since what they were saying really struck a chord with me.

One of the two young women was talking about how she was buying her boyfriend a Playstation 4 for Christmas — which she was holding in her hands. Obviously, in the eyes of many, this would make her a pretty awesome girlfriend. What was really unfortunate, however, was how she planned to pay for it.

I couldn’t believe it when she admitted to her friend that she wasn’t sure if her credit card would pass at the register, since it didn’t have a lot of credit left on it. Her friend said not to worry, however, since she’d step in with her own card if her friend’s card was refused. This got them talking about money.

The woman buying the Playstation continued, saying she also wasn’t sure how she was going to pay her credit bill either, since all of her cards were maxed out and that she wasn’t making a lot of money. She didn’t say this with any sense of urgency, however, but seemed to think it was kind of funny. She figured she could pay for the Playstation over a few months — all she’d have to do is work a few extra hours.

Now I don’t like judging people, and I honestly believe that it’s none of my business how a person decides to spend their money, but it was hard not to shake my head in bewilderment at all of this. I’m not against buying things on credit (in fact, I think it’s a good idea under certain circumstances), but if your credit cards are maxed out and you don’t know how you’re going to pay them off, why are you spending another $400+ on something that isn’t essential? It’s hard for me to understand this sort of thinking.

I know some people like to complain that Christmas has become too commercial — having become more about buying presents than spending time with family and friends — but overhearing this conversation made it real for me. Although ultimately responsible for her decision to spend money she didn’t have, Christmas was somehow compelling this person to make herself even poorer than she already was. How is this a good thing? It’s craziness.

The sad(der) part is that her story is pretty typical. I know quite a few people who I suspect overspend on gifts and what not during the holidays. Honestly, why do people do this to themselves?

André