It’s hard to believe, but it’s that time of year again! It is a great time where we get to celebrate the birth of our Lord Jesus and remember what he has done for us, as well as spending time with our loved ones.
However, our society has also made it somewhat a stressful period where many of us are run off our feet and feel the financial pressure of having to buy presents, cater for events and keep the kids entertained in the school holidays.
With that in mind, I’ve put together this tips list to help you navigate the financial aspects of the season.
My tips are:
Pre-determine how much you are going to spend
Do a budget and determine how much you can realistically afford to spend this Christmas without going into debt. Ideally do a budget for your total finances, not just a spend list for this Christmas. This will give you depth of insight into how you spend your money. To learn more about budgeting go here.
Once you’ve determined how much you can afford, write down a list of all the people you need to buy presents for and any events that you need to prepare for. Based on your budget, work out how much you will spend on each person and how much each of those events will cost.
In other words, you want to know how much you are going to spend in total and how much you are going to spend on each person.
Technology has made it easier to find great deals. Before you hit the local shops, spend some time researching online for potential gifts you might want to buy for your loved ones. There is a strong probability that you will find great deals online and may save yourself a significant amount of money.
Build a list of what you are going to buy for each person before you’ve gone near the shops, otherwise your run the risk of spending more because anything and everything becomes an option. Researching online helps you to plan wisely.
Set a time limit for your shopping. Go with your list of what you need and where you need to shop. Get in, get out and don’t hang about!
Buy less expensive things first. This will help you stick to your budget and also help you keep perspective about what is a good price.
Family Agreement: A kids only policy – Talk to the other adults in your family about only buying presents for the kids this year, rather than for the adults. You should also discuss a maximum spend limit for each child. Buying presents for every family member can be very expensive!
The trap in our society is spending money on credit cards. It’s just SO easy…. The problem is that the convenience of credit cards causes temptation. Whilst credit cards can be useful for tracking your spending, if you can’t pay the balance in full at the end of each month, then I recommend cutting it up. Switch instead to a debit card, where you are only spending your own money rather borrowing someone else’s. Most banks will offer a Visa debit card that can still be used to shop online, so not having a credit card won’t disadvantage you.
The real challenge with a credit card is you’ll be tempted to spend more money than you actually have and may find you’re still paying off the debt well into the new year.
Sell things you don’t need
Christmas time is a great time to tidy up around your house. Most of us can probably find things that we no longer use that might be worth selling on eBay or gumtree. You’ll get some money back which will help contribute towards your Christmas budget.
As Jesus himself said “It is more blessed to give than to received”. At Christmas, we give gifts to our loved ones, but the reality is that most of these gifts are of short-term value and quickly forgotten about. I want to challenge you to give an ‘eternal’ gift. There are so many great ministries that we can support that will reach people with the Good news of Jesus Christ. This is the best gift we could give anyone!
Have a great Christmas!