Recuperating after Christmas Spending
by Marsha Hubler
“We are not going into debt over Christmas!”
I heard that decree from my husband the first year of our wedded bliss, and I’ve stuck to it to this day. I guess being married to an accountant for almost 50 years does have its perks. In fact, we have not only avoided Christmas debt but also not taken loans with those nasty interest rates for anything other than buying/remodeling a house or buying a car. Despite the fact that neither hubby nor I have ever had high-paying jobs, just a few months ago, we purchased a used car with cash and circumvented the trip to the bank altogether.
However, there are many folks, including some close friends of mine, who have gone the route of indebtedness much to their chagrin. One gal had charged so much on a wallet full of credit cards, she had to get a large loan from her bank to dig herself out of that financial hole. At that point in her life, she finally realized 50-dollar bills really don’t grow on trees. She analyzed how much money she wasted on high interest rates then cut up all her credit cards but one, vowing to use that one only for emergencies.
But getting back to Christmas…how can we recuperate from the spending sprees in which many of us indulge? Let’s take a look at a few tips that will help us enjoy that special holiday without going into deep debt and paying for it over the following year:
1. Give to the Lord first.
“But I can’t afford to tithe!”
I’m sure you’ve also heard the retort to that statement: “You can’t afford not to.”
Honestly, I’ve never met any Christians who have been faithful to the Lord in their giving who have had financial difficulties. On the other hand, I’ve known some folks who have not given to the Lord’s work regularly, and they’re always struggling to pay their bills. The Lord has promised to bless those who give, and He does.
You might question why this is such an important part of financial stability. I’ll answer that with one word: discipline. Folks who automatically take their tithe and gifts to the Lord off the top of their paychecks have become diligent in budgeting what they want to give God. Because of that discipline, those same folks are often meticulous in how they handle the rest of their finances. Giving to the Lord’s work is a biblical mandate for Christians, and God honors those who do so. Malachi 3:10 tells us, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”1. Be a wise shopper!
Other than clothes for fast-growing kids, almost every gift your loved ones want now, they’ll want or need next Christmas. Go shopping right after Christmas and look for those 50% -75% off deals. Decorations, cards, paper products and everything else “Christmassy” are practically given away by the stores who want to clear their shelves of all the holiday merchandise. Also, special deals for clothing and household items are often as good as or better than those on Black Friday. And…watch for special sales throughout the year while keeping your loved ones in mind as Christmas comes around all too soon again.
2. Trash those credit cards!
Sit down and figure how much more you’re paying for an item with the high interest rates the credit card companies charge. You’ll be shocked out of your socks. Determine to trash all those cards but one. When you use that one card, pay it off before the monthly bill comes due with the interest piled on OR use the card only for emergencies. 3.
3. Save a little cash each week.
Set aside a “Christmas Fund” jar or container and have your family members put their change in it throughout the year. You’ll be surprised how much money you can save that way. Or how about putting a five spot in the jar once a week? In a year you’ll have $250, and maybe you won’t need those credit cards at all!
Christmas and the days that follow don’t have to be a stress factor in your life. Determine to get out of debt by using some of these suggestions and look forward to next Christmas with a whole new perspective and joy in your heart. The promises of God and the financial freedom you’ll experience will allow you to enjoy the holiday season like you’ve never done before.
Marsha Hubler, author of the best-selling Keystone Stables Series from Zonderkidz, lives in central PA with her husband. She has a master’s degree in education, over 40 years experience with children of all ages, and presently works with homeschoolers in her home office. Her latest release is Snow, Phantom Stallion of the Poconos, a novel for tween horse lovers. She has 19 books and dozens of articles and short stories in print. The director of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference and a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences, she has a passion to help beginning writers get their work primed for publication. Visit Marsha at her website, http://www.marshahubler.com .
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