But just thinking ahead a little bit, I wanted to get you some advice for what happens after Thanksgiving: the Christmas shopping season begins.
You should have a list of people that will receive presents from you.
Determine how much you want to spend on each person and add the amounts to come up with a total figure.
That’s your Christmas gifts budget, meaning you can’t go over that overall amount.
You may also want to establish a budget for items such as Christmas decorations or entertainment (Nutcracker tickets anyone?).
As we have discussed before, cash is king.
Using cash will keep you from overspending, which is easier to do than when you use plastic (either a debit card or credit card).
When your cash is gone, your shopping should stop.
Don’t just wait until Christmas Eve to do all your shopping.
Don’t try to just buy something just to get it done. Give yourself the opportunity to do some comparison shopping and find the good deals that are out there.
In these Internet days, search online for the best deals and compare prices. You can also save time if you order items online and avoid the battles for parking and long lines at the mall (provided you give yourself enough time).
Also, take advantage of your smart phone, and look for the best Apps to help you shop during this holiday season.
Ideally, you will be starting your Christmas sinking fund now so you have the cash ready for next year’s expenses.
These few steps will save you a lot of money, a lot of time, and they will reduce your stress levels. Focus on spending good quality time with friends and family.
Don’t let the disease of “more” rob you of having a great Christmas season.
Finally, remember what this season is really all about. It is about celebrating how God reached out to provide for mankind’s greatest need.
God knew we needed a Savior and and He gave us His Son Jesus. If you have not had the opportunity to meet Him, there is no better time than today.
He is all that you will ever need in this life and the next. Let me be one of the first people to say to you: Merry Christmas.
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21 (NASB)
It seems to me that the holidays are getting here really early this year.
Of course I have already seen a couple of houses in our neighborhood with Christmas decorations, so Christmas seems to be in a hurry to get here early as well.
This is supposed to be a great time of the year but it can also be a time filled with lots of activity and stress.
With so many things to do and so many places to be, your emotions will be running high. It is at times like this where you can can easily get derailed from your financial plan.
How do we stay grounded and focused? How do we really get to enjoy the holidays without breaking our budget?
I think the answer is in having the right attitude in our hearts.
With that in mind, let’s prepare for the holidays by focusing on these attitudes over the next few weeks: gratitude, contentment, and generosity.
Think about what and who we have in our lives. Our very next breath is not guaranteed, so every new day is an opportunity to be thankful.
Do we have health and the ability to work? Let’s be thankful. Do we have jobs? Let’s be thankful.
Do we have friends and family who love us? Let’s be thankful. Do we have a roof over our head and food to eat every day? Let’s be thankful.
If gratitude fills your heart, it will be harder for it to be filled with grumbling and bitterness.
“in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
I Thessalonians 5:18
This is the attitude that says “we have enough“. We are satisfied regardless of our current state of affairs.
This is a great antidote against greed and against thinking that one more present will be just what we need.
We don’t need to overdo it whether it is in celebration or in gifts. If we are honest with ourselves, we already have enough.
“But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.”
I Timothy 6:6-7
When we have gratitude and contentment, we can turn our attention from ourselves and focus on others. We can always show generosity.
Now, you may not be in a position to give everyone a nice present.
However, you are always in a position to give the people in your life the gift of your presence and the gift of your service. Make that phone call. Send that Christmas card.
Spend time with that friend or family member you have not seen in a while. Volunteer at church to reach those in need during the holidays.
Generosity does not have to be limited by the balance in our bank account.
“The generous man will be prosperous, And he who waters will himself be watered.”
One of my goals for this year was to lose weight and get in better physical shape.
As I get older (47 years old now), I know I have to take better care of myself.
But I also added another goal this year: to complete my first 5K (3.1 miles) race.
Now, if you know one thing about me, it’s that I don’t run anywhere.
I had not run for anything since I played basketball in High School and we would run up and down that court.
But last night, I did run in and completed my first 5K. I am still on an extremely high note.
As I made that final turn for the finish line, I had a surge of energy I had not felt in years. I even beat the time I had set for myself as a target.
As we close down on this calendar year, what about your financial goals? How are you coming along?
I am assuming you set some financial goals for yourself this year. We all have a desire to manage our money better.
So as you consider where you are with your goals, let me give you some encouragement as we close on this year and prepare for the next.
I set my sights on a 5K. Even though it is a modest distance by most standards, it was a tall order for me.
But I set my mind to do it. I wrote it down as one of my goals for this year.
For you, it may be simply to learn how to budget or finish your beginner’s emergency fund, or pay off that credit card.
Whatever your goal maybe, write it down.
Once I decided on my goal, I had to actually do something about it. I had to start training.
First, I had to actually at least be able to walk 3.1 miles. Eventually, I added running in small spurts until I was able to run most of the distance. That’s what I did last night.
So when you look at your financial situation, once you decide to do something, go ahead and do something about it.
Prepare your first budget. Make a list of things you could sell in a garage sale to finish your emergency fund. Cut up your credit cards to remove the temptation to borrow more money.
You may need to read on the topic, you may need to ask someone for help, but do get started.
As I started running more and more, I kept gaining more and more confidence. I did a training run a couple of days before my race and I felt better than ever before.
So going into the race last night, I was ready. Consistency gave me the confidence to execute my plan to hit my goal.
I have to tell you that your first budget will not be perfect. You will hit some bumps on the road as you seek to pay off your debts. That’s life, but you have to keep at it.
You have to keep on running, because that’s the only way you win.
If I can run my first 5K at 47 years old, surely you can learn to win with your money.
Go for it!
“You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
Henry Ford, American Industrialist
I am very happy announce that I have just my published my new e-book for the Kindle! The title of the book is “What Do You Mean is Not My Money?”.
In this book I give you my point of view on the essence of biblical stewardship and the blessings we receive when we are rich towards God and others.
I think it is important for Christians to have a clear perspective on stewardship so it can become a joyous adventure and not a dreadful duty.
In the book, I go straight to God’s Word to understand our roles as stewards and God’s role as owner.
I also cover some of the most common questions on this grace of stewardship, share with you the secret of contentment, and talk about how we can have generosity as a lifestyle.
I wrote this book because having the proper view of biblical stewardship is fundamental for God’s people.
We need to have the proper view of stewardship so we can glorify Him with our finances.
Are you ready to be rich towards God and others? Get the book today!
“Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
I Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)
How are you building your financial household? Is what you are doing working? Do you see positive results?
Our family has been on a financial transformation journey for a little over 9 years now and I have had some time to reflect on how far we have come.
We have experienced the rewards of applying God-given, time-tested principles for winning with your finances.
I wanted to share these 7 Principles for Financial Success with you today because I firmly believe you too can win with your money if you are diligent in applying them.
If you want to know more, you can check my e-book in which I share more about how these principles have changed our lives.
If you are winning with money, I would love to hear how have you applied these or other principles to succeed. Share those blessings with others!
“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”