6 Ways to Recuperate from Christmas Spending
by Michelle Lazurek
A favorite holiday for many Christians is Christmas, one of the only days a year when we openly worship and acknowledge Christ’s presence both in our lives and here on earth. This paired with the beauty of freshly fallen snow, the sentiment to spread peace and goodwill to everyone and the time to create memories with loved ones all contribute to a love for the holiday season. But just a few weeks after the Christmas decorations have been removed, the wrapping paper has been thrown out with the trash and the holiday leftovers have been consumed, the January blues can set in, causing us undue depression and anxiety when credit card bills flood our mailboxes. How can Christians recuperate from an overspent Christmas budget? Here are six ways:
Start a Christmas jar. On a Facebook post the other day, a friend mentioned the idea of a Christmas jar. In her home they have a jar where family members put away money for Christmas throughout the year. Right before Christmas, they give the money they collected to a family in need. What a great way to redeem the consumeristic nature of Christmas! It is always good to take the focus off ourselves and put it on to others, and a great way to count our blessings.
Do a heart analysis. If you spent too much this holiday season, it might be a good boost to your spiritual life to figure out why you spent more than your budget would allow. It’s one thing to want to be generous, it is another to be paying off credit card bills months after Christmas has ended. Ask yourself honestly why you spent way over budget. Did that family member really need that expensive gift? Are you spending to earn someone’s love and approval, or was it due to just a lack of self-control? Getting to the bottom of your spending habits and confessing them to the Lord if sinful patterns emerge will help not only your spiritual life but also your wallet.
Initiate a spending fast. For 30 days after Christmas, do your best to only spend money on immediate needs and bills rather than on indulgences. Much like you may want to start a diet to lose those extra pounds after indulging in rich holiday foods and desserts, try a spending diet by only purchasing things you can’t live without. Stock away those extra dollars and give them to charity or save them for a vacation in the summertime.
Purge your home. Although no one can predict every Christmas gift you’ll receive, the most common Christmas purchases are clothing and electronics. Since you have been blessed with material possessions, are there things you can rid yourself of to make room for your new gifts? Clean out a closet and get rid of sweaters, shoes and accessories that others might like. Offer your gently used items to a family in need or donate to goodwill for a tax deduction. Either way, you’ll feel a bit more in control of your life, and your home will feel less cluttered and overwhelming.
Open a banking account. In addition to your other checking and savings accounts, open a separate one with no minimum balance and low fees and put aside money for Christmas all year round. Sometimes the reason people overspend is because they waited too long to purchase their gifts, causing them to whip out a credit card so they can go on a spending spree without having to worry about how to pay for it. However, without setting limits and boundaries with spending, along with largely inflated credit balances, people can spend at their leisure only to suffer the consequences later. Putting aside a certain amount per paycheck the other 51 weeks of the year will help prepare you for the season and alleviate the urge to whip out that plastic.
Get accountability. The church community can be a great resource to help you recuperate from spending. This is because church communities host a mix of Christians, some more mature in the faith than others. Align yourself with people who you feel have been around the spiritual block more times than you. Ask them to hold you accountable to pay off your debt, build up your savings and give you peace when anxiety over spending enters your heart. Prayer may sound simplistic but may carry great weight when it comes to helping you battle the winter months laced with financial debt or limited funds.
We all overspend from time to time. Unfortunately, the ripple effect of those choices can result in a tough start to the new year. By making small changes to our spending habits and focusing on making memories rather than buying expensive gifts, we can start each year on the right track and be prepared to enjoy the holidays rather than dread them.
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