MERRY CHRISTMAS! Well … for some it is at the time. But once the holiday season comes to a close, they’re looking for some fermented eggnog (or something stronger) to try and forget what they’ve done.
The Christmas season is notorious for over-charging, over-spending and people over-doing everything. No one wants to be a GRINCH and even the grinchiest of Grinches get gifts they don’t deserve. After all, it’s CHRISTMAS. But when the bills come 30 days later, the regrets come as well.
HOW CAN WE AVOID THAT? Here are some ideas to help you ...
• Have a budget before you begin. In other words, decide what you have to spend before you’re in a store or see something online and suddenly decide you have to get it. Because after all, it’s for your mom, your dad, your kids, your favorite uncle, sweet sister, best friend … the list never ends. (Remember: A budget isn’t about the sacrifices; it’s about the rewards.)
• Just because something is on sale doesn’t mean it’s a good buy. When the car dealership or furniture store or whoever advertises everything being HALF OFF, it doesn’t mean they’re giving you a great buy. It just means they’ve reduced their profit on the deal. And by the way, they’re still makin’ a killin’ to those who are willin’ to sign on the dotted line.
• CHRISTMAS is a great time to teach your children about generosity. It’s also a great time to teach them how to manage their money. By the way, you are their first teacher and best example. Which means, most likely, they will do what you are doing. That can be encouraging or frightening, depending on what you are doing. Here’s a new resource that has a perfect plan to teach even your youngest how to manage their money and how things work in the marketplace — CLICK HERE!
Don’t spend what you don’t have to buy what you don’t need, so you can enjoy it for a short while until you realize you didn’t need it, and then wish you hadn’t wasted money on it.
• Don’t make a December decision you’ll regret for years to come. In other words, be careful that you don’t let your heart overrule your head and talk yourself into buying that new big ticket item that sounds so good now, but will be a chain around your family and your finances for the next few years. Don’t spend what you don’t have to buy what you don’t need, so you can enjoy it for a short while until you realize you didn’t need it, and then wish you hadn’t wasted money on it.
• Be generous with your church, your family and friends at Christmas, but don’t empty your savings to do it. It’s insanely easy to get caught up in the emotion of the month and do things for people you’ve always wanted to do. But that doesn’t mean we should do it. Make sure you have an emergency fund for you and your family. Most trusted financial experts say that should be at least six months income and the best ones say it should be at least a year, and whatever you do, never touch your retirement funds. Why? Because you’re going to need them.
One more thing … if you’re already in debt, this is no time to make things worse by digging a deeper hole than the one you already have. Instead, maybe you ought to pay something off instead of taking on more monthly payments for something you really didn’t need.
One of my favorite Christmas songs is the one that says, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year …” And it is.
As long as we don’t let the Grinch (or anyone else) steal our financial freedom!
© 2020. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.