5 Ways to Avoid Christmas Overspending

5 Ways to Avoid Christmas OverspendingAre you ready for Thanksgiving? I am looking forward to a welcome break and to spending time with the family.

But just thinking ahead a little bit, I wanted to get you some advice for what happens after Thanksgiving: the Christmas shopping season begins.

So whether you will join the crowds on Black Friday or whether you will take advantage of Cyber Monday, here are 5 ways to avoid Christmas overspending:

1. Establish a Budget.

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?).

2. 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).

When your cash is gone, your shopping should stop.

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3. 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.

Plan ahead.

4. Leverage Technology.

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.

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5. Plan for Next Year’s Christmas.

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 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.

“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)

The Lottery Won’t Be Your Christmas Miracle

The Lottery Won't Be Your Christmas Miracle

Did you hear? The second largest jackpot in Nationwide Mega Millions history ($636M) will be drawn Tuesday night (Dec-17-2013). That’s about half of $1B. As it usually happens with the lottery, the bigger the prize, the more people get enticed to play.

This happens despite the enormous odds against winning. Recently the process has been altered to make it harder for anyone person to win. The odds have gone from 1 in 56 to 1 in 75.

This rush to play the lotto also happens in spite of the mostly terrible history of lottery winners. Winning a large amount of money can spell disaster for a person when they lack the wisdom to handle their finances in the right way.

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So, why do people still try the lottery? I think it’s because deep down, we all want a quick solution to our problems. We want to lose weight without the proper diet and exercise. We want a great relationship without putting in the time to get to know the other person.

In terms of money, we all want that Christmas miracle that will solve all of our financial problems. If we are honest, we all have thought about what we would do with $1M. Imagine having the opportunity of winning $636M.

Now, I don’t play the lottery because I think it’s a waste of money and time. If you are planning to buy a ticket, it’s your money. But I want you to think about something else while you wait for the drawing.

Instead of playing the almost impossible odds of the lottery, why don’t you decide what you could do to improve your financial situation?

  • If you want more income, what are you doing to make yourself more valuable at work? As someone has said, your salary increase will become effective when you become effective.
  • If you don’t like your job, what are you doing to have a different career track 1 year from now, 3 years from now, 5 years from now?
  • If you need more knowledge, what books are you reading right now?
  • What are your money goals for 2014?

In essence, you can play the lottery and hope you hit the jackpot. Given the odds, it would be indeed a Christmas miracle.

But achieving financial success is not a matter of miracles. It involves determination, hard work, and persistence.

Question: What will you today to improve your financial situation for tomorrow?

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7 Reminders for the Holiday Season

Merry Christmas 2013

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It’s almost here. I can sense it can’t be stopped. I see it on streets, on retail establishments everywhere. I see it in some of my neighbors’ houses who have defied our HOA rules and couldn’t wait to turn their decorative lights on.

I see it in some of my Facebook friends proudly declaring that they will listen to the music now just because they can and because they want to do it :-).

Yes, we are not through with Thanksgiving yet and everyone seems ready to jump into the Christmas season.

In one way it’s a good thing. People are ready to celebrate and enjoy the festivities. I know it’s my favorite time of the year. I definitely love the Christmas holiday.

But I want you and me to be very careful so we can truly enjoy the season. We don’t want it to turn into a nightmare of stress and just more things.

And by the way, I am writing this post for myself as much as for anyone else. Here are my 7 Reminders for the Holiday Season:

  1. Spend time with family. They need you and you need them more than you need one more gift.
  2. Get involved. While there are needs around us every day, they seem to be magnified during the holiday season. Find a soup kitchen, a food pantry and donate some of your time. Take time to clean the closet and donate some clothes you no longer need. Bake some cookies and take them to your neighbors or coworkers.
  3. Give. Get involved with the many efforts available to help those in need during this season. Here are three of my favorite ministries:
  4. Stay on budget for Christmas. Make a list, take your time, and use cash. If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it. Don’t go deeper into debt just because it’s Christmas.
  5. Rest. Don’t let the holiday season stress you out so you need a vacation after the Christmas vacation. Take time to pause and do “nothing”. Naps are good for you!
  6. Relax. It’s ok to eat a little more on Thanksgiving. Have a Christmas cookie. Yes, it’s ok to have a Peppermint Mocha @ Starbucks. You can always get back to “normal” in January. Take time to watch a Christmas classic. Here are four of my favorite ones:
  7. Worship. Remember the reason for the season. It’s not more stuff and it’s not you or me. It’s Him. Go to church! You will be glad you did.

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
Matthew 1:23

Question: What advice do you have for enjoying the holiday season?

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