Christmas may be the most stressful seasons of the year, and family finances are a large part of the reasons.
Though we tell ourselves in September that we’re not going to go overboard with Christmas spending, that resolve usually weakens around Black Friday and intensifies during the weeks leading up to Christmas.
My own family has a history of going all-out for Christmas giving.
My parents truly love this holiday, and every year seem to outdo themselves at giving presents. As my siblings and I grew older, it became a joke in our family when mom would preface each Christmas celebration with this warning, “Now remember kids, this is your last ‘big’ Christmas.”
Yet the next year, she couldn’t seem to resist giving even more!
I picked up the habit myself, and for a number of years overspent, even going into debt to pay for Christmas presents. In time I learned that Christmas is much more fun without financial stress. I’ve even discovered the joy of giving great gifts that are completely free.
It isn’t too late to get control of your own spending and make the last month of the year a financial builder rather than a drain. The secret is to temper Christmas consumption with discipline and generosity.
Here are 10 great ideas for doing exactly that.
1. Do not go into debt for Christmas. Make a Christmas spending plan that will keep you from going into debt—and stick to it.
2. Pay off something. Make a payment on a credit card or bill that will pay it off or at least put a dent into the lump sum.
3. Practice generosity in small ways. Try giving an above-average tip to a restaurant server, or dropping more than a few coins into a Salvation Army kettle. .
4. Do an act of kindness. You probably know someone who is struggling in life. Lending a hand or a listening ear cultivate a spirit of giving within you.
5. Sell something you don’t need. Put it on eBay, and use the money to pay down your debt or give to a charity.
6. Begin a savings account. You can do this before the end of this year! Direct deposit of a portion of your paycheck is the easiest way to get this started.
7. Contribute to a good cause. Churches and charities always need the help, and your giving right now will balance your desire to spend on yourself.
8. Name three things you’re thankful for. Now share that discovery with someone else.
9. Pray about your financial plan for next year. Ask for God’s direction in planning your spending and giving for the upcoming year.
10. Make a New Year’s resolution to be more generous. Name one specific way that you will accomplish this.
The end of the year is a financial disaster for many people, but it doesn’t have to be. Practice discipline, gratitude, and generosity during the Christmas season, and you can avoid the overspending trap.