Payments before Christmas – Christmas shopping with request to pay?

The Christmas season. Not quite as snow-white, not quite as calm and not quite as peaceful as the stories keep saying – but in its way quite charming. However, this time of year can be a little confusing, especially when the account statements show the pre-Christmas shopping adventures.

Most people will know this: The well-meaning “...but no gift-giving this year!” is even less valid than the shortly thereafter made New Year’s resolutions. And even though it feels like Christmas starts in autumn with the first gingerbread on the shelves, somehow buying the presents is always postponed until the last minute. That is exactly how this year I find myself caught in the shopping madness once more. Parents, sister, grandparents, family of the partner with five siblings – and the next generation is already at the door. Reconciling the various wish lists, shopping lists and plans with my account statements seems to be a job for Sisyphus himself.

My preferred online shops have my direct debit mandate, other digital shops accept only credit card payments, the concert tickets I paid via PayPal and the goods bought analogous and “offline” from the retailers were paid by Girocard.

Recognising all these positions on my much too long account statement reminds me that I still have to order a 3000-piece puzzle for my aunt. Has the tea set for grandma already been paid or will it still be debited? When will my telephone bill be deducted this month? That's usually around this week, isn't it? And what is that “XY shop” again, for what did they get € 90?

Like every year, I have the feeling that the shopping madness is slipping through my fingers and I lose track of things. The time lag between order and payment as well as the many different deadlines leave me with an unpleasant feeling in my stomach – especially in this time of unusual debits from my account something can quickly slip through. What use is it to me that I can reclaim a direct debit if I can no longer identify it? What credit card payment have I really authorised?

It should be easier. It should be better organised. It should be immediate. Next year around this time?
I imagine myself ordering the new radio for my mother and being asked in my banking app at the moment of ordering to release the exact amount for it. The corny Christmas sweaters with the reindeer nose are ordered in two different sizes, tried on. And at the moment of returning the much too large one, my online banking asks me whether I will release the payment for the matching sweater.

There are three packages waiting for me at the Packstation. In order to open the hatch, on request I authorise the payment. The XY shop again wants € 90? Rejected! I didn't order anything there. And my phone bill was apparently higher than usual in December and, therefore, the payment request was not automatically confirmed. I check the call statement and then authorise it manually - that's right, I called my relatives in England.

That is the request to pay. Who knows whether it will make my next Christmas calmer and more peaceful. But getting more control over my payments before they actually happen, and easing my confusion when it comes to my account, that sounds almost as nice as having a white Christmas.

Author: Anuschka Clasen
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