My first Christmas in the military I was so excited to return home to Florida. At my station in Colorado, there were many unique shops with handmade pottery. Micheal Garmin was a fantastic artist who created beautiful sculptures. There was one in particular that I wanted to purchase for my husband (then boyfriend). It was a firefighter holding a little girl carrying a teddy bear. Since his profession was firefighting, it was the perfect gift.
And then I found a cookie jar made by Colorado Indians. Although it was shaped like a pig, I thought it was beautiful. My grandma always had cookies in her cookie jar and I just knew she would love this as much as I did!
My paycheck enabled me to purchase gifts for my family and I wanted to buy everyone something special. The only problem was I was just a little bit short on cash to buy the presents.
My bank account contained just enough to pay for my flight home, but not much more. But then it was like a miracle appeared in my mailbox the next day. I received a Discover card application. This was great! I could buy the presents and visit my family. I charged the fireman sculpture, the pig cookie jar, and many other endearing gifts that I loved.
However this attitude of living beyond my income led to disaster. I charged $600. The following month $720 was due, however I wasn’t able to pay it then either.
The following month it was $864, then $1,037, then $1,244, then $1,492.
What’s a young single girl supposed to do?
Not pay rent?
Needless to say, within 6 months I discovered how large my Discover bill could grow exponentially. (It took me years to pay off that $600 purchase)
Wrong attitudes towards money is often thought of as greed, but it can also be generosity that overextends your pocketbook. God doesn’t require us to live beyond our income, so don’t allow the world to convince you that you need to have the entire living room filled with presents. I know, I’ve seen the pictures on Facebook too!
But don’t allow the advertisements to tempt you to buy expensive attractive gifts. Definitely stay away from the credit offers and consider temporarily unfollowing people who may be encouraging the behavior you want to avoid.
The best advice for people who don’t have a lot of money for Christmas shopping is to stay away from stores. You don’t have to buy your family gifts in order to have a wonderful holiday. The reason for the season is Jesus.
When we purchase unnecessary things just because we want them, that is actually self-indulgent living! In fact many of the reasons we love Christmas is because it gives us a reason to indulge ourselves.
What is a holiday office party without a glass of wine, beer, or cookies galore! We all gain ten pounds during the holidays from all the excessive calories we scoop up in chip dip, chocolate covered pretzels, and iced Christmas cookies.
Advertisements on television and movies tend to show us people unwrapping gifts while squealing in delight. It makes us think that if we have lots of gifts to open, then we will be happy too.
However, Jesus warned them, “Take care and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15 ESV).
Advertisers know how to make their products attractive. They even make the credit offers sound as if it will save you money. Take my word for it, it won’t.
Handling our finances during the month of December should be a high priority for us all. Just think how much tension is caused in January once the credit card bills roll in. Growing up I witnessed first hand how financial difficulties can led to divorce. So, protect your marriage by planning out a Christmas budget.
We all have limited incomes but a typical budget for a small family could be:
Recreation, Entertainment, & Vacation 5%
Medical & Dental 5%
Christmas Gifts 4%
For a Christian how we spend our money is a spiritual matter. Everything belongs to the Lord. He created everything.
We are not to conform to this world (or the seasonal marketing lures), but be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 ESV).
God has given us many gifts which we take care of. But God want us to honor His son, Jesus Christ too.
“that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him.” John 5:23 NIV
So, how can we Honor the Father and the Son this Christmas?
The way you Honor the Father and the Son may be different for you than me. Ask the Lord and He will reveal to you a way that you can Honor Him this Christmas.
Here is one way, but physically serving the community works just as well.
Billy Graham says: “Although all our money actually belongs to God, the Bible suggests the tithe as a minimum response in gratitude to God…. You cannot get around it; the Bible promises material and spiritual blessing to the person who gives to God. You cannot outgive God. I challenge you to try it and see.”
What Steps can I take to Avoid Overspending this Christmas?
- Determine how much money is 4% of your income.
- Make a list of who you will be buying Christmas gifts for.
- Divide the amount of money dedicated to Christmas by the number of people on your list to determine how much money you can spend on each person.
- Analyze your buying habits to determine where you may be self indulgent (for me, it was books and movies. Instead of buying those self indulgent items, I visited the library instead.) So, I saved the money for Christmas giving.
- Make a Shopping List before you enter the store.
- Only purchase items that are listed on your list (before you entered the store).
- If you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, then he will help you overcome the temptation to purchase unnecessary items.
- Ask God to help you develop good financial habits. You need to know Jesus in order for Him to be able to help you. For more information about how to begin a relationship with Jesus, read How to Find Peace.
- If your budget is tight, consider making something as a gift (cookies, pies, and artwork)
- Perhaps there is a way to serve the person (wash car, lawn work, house work) You can create a certificate online for free.
How Do You Honor God the Father, and Jesus, at Christmas?
If you have a family tradition how you honor God, please write it in the comments below. It may become someone else’s family tradition too.
If you have a way that you avoid overspending, I would love to hear it!
If “How to Avoid Overspending” blessed you, share it with a friend.
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Graham, Billy. (2013). Christian Worker’s Handbook.