Does Christmas Time = Spending Time?

Perhaps you were one of the many brave souls that got out on Black Friday to take advantage of all the great offers available. According to the early returns it was indeed a good day for retailers with sales 7% ahead of 2010. I hope you took care of all the items on your shopping list.

But maybe you are holding out for Cyber Monday and you will shop with your computer or mobile device in the comfort of your own home. Or maybe you are like me, and you wanted to avoid the crowds and you will be shopping later in December.

Whatever the case may be for you, there is always the temptation to overspend. Here is some advice to help you avoid turning Christmas time into spending time.

  • Establish a budget. You already 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. 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?).
  • Use cash. 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).
  • Take your time. 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.
  • Leverage technology. In this day of smart phones, take advantage of these Top 5 Free Apps to aid you in finding deals (thanks to the Hulkowich Group for the great summary).
  • Plan for Christmas 2012. 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.

One last piece of advice: 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 the indescribable gift, the Prince of Peace, God with us. 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.

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13
And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”
Luke 2:10-14 (NASB)