If I were honest, I don’t really love Christmas. I love getting to spend time with my family, having a nice meal and opening up gifts, but I just can’t get into the whole Christmas season thing. My wife, on the other hand, started playing Christmas music on November 1st. And after eight and a half years of marriage, I have finally come to grips with the fact that Christmas starts early in the Lawson household and it is a really BIG deal.
Our first year of marriage I naively asked Jenny how much she wanted to spend on Christmas. After I peeled myself up off the floor from the shock, I looked at her with a dazed look and said, “You want to spend hooow much?” It seemed like we were going to buy gifts for everyone including my long-lost Uncle Frank and his dog. We eventually worked through it, but not until after tears were shed on both sides.
Over the years I have met with countless families who confess to overspending for Christmas.
Many of these families would blow through a year-end bonus, empty out their savings or end up putting it on their credit cards.
It has been painful to listen to the countless number of families explain the heartache and regret connected to what should be a joy-filled occasion.
There has to be a better way, right?
What if we could actually enjoy Christmas and not end up with a financial headache after it’s all said and done. There is hope my friends!
here are FIVE SIMPLE WAYS you can avoid A Financial Mess this Christmas:
1. Don’t Spend What You Don’t Have:
This might seem like a crazy concept, but it is foundational for you to be successful this Christmas. If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it. Want that new Xbox for your kids but don’t have the money? Don’t buy it. Do you want it? Absolutely! Are you going to buy it? Absolutely not! Start out this Christmas with a firm resolve that you are not going to spend what you don’t have. Need help clarifying this difficult concept? Watch this video.
2. Set An Amount to Spend:
This amount should be what you currently have available in cash. If you don’t have anything already saved up for Christmas, then you either need to get creative or you will need to sell things to get some extra cash (see point 1). Either way, set a concrete amount to spend and don’t go over that amount. Next year, start saving for this amount in January using one of my favorite financial tools: SmartyPig.com.
3. Make a List and Check It Twice:
Once you have your set amount to spend, it’s time to work through your gift list. Remember, you can’t please everyone and Uncle Frank really doesn’t need another tie. It might hurt you not be able to get your great-great Aunt Sue something this Christmas, but overspending will hurt a lot worse. Decide who must have a gift this year, and then prioritize the rest of your list from there. The Christmas Gift List app is a great resource to help you build your list and stay on budget.
4. Get Creative:
If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, don’t assume you can’t get someone a gift. Be creative and think of something you could make, bake or create that they would love. One of the best Christmas gifts I have ever given to my mom was a video montage of my parents’ early years. She adores it still to this day and it cost me absolutely nothing. Here’s a list of DIY Gifts you can create yourself.
5. Disconnect from the Fray:
Christmas time is a marketer’s dream. They pump our televisions, inboxes and mailboxes full of advertisements to stir up the “wanter” inside of us. Disconnect yourself from the madness of Christmas and stick to your plan. Watch and share this video to encourage yourself to choose contentment this holiday season.
This Christmas, let’s all choose to unplug from the madness of the hype and lean into what it is all about: celebrating the arrival of Jesus and spending time with our friends and family.
By Josh Lawson – Director of Impact Waco