A modern-day wise man said to me, “2020, the Year of Perfect Vision” is perhaps the most cataclysmic year in our lifetime. It will be remembered as the year that practically changed everything, forever.”
You know, I’d have to agree!
I wonder if it might therefore create the motivation or even the necessity to pivot from your traditional holiday hangover habit. Some suffering the effects of shutdowns and unemployment will be compelled to spend less on Christmas this season. Maybe you can find some alternatives in the words below and change the way you do Christmas, forever.
I’ve shared this message each year hoping that I might save one family from the holiday hangover. I’m not sure how many have bought it, but the most common feedback I get is, “why didn’t you send it out sooner?” With Black Friday coming soon, and where some retailers have already extended it to Black Friday Week,” please reconsider:
Avoiding the Holiday Hangover-2020
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. (Rom. 13:8)
For many Believers the Christmas season is filled with busyness in shopping, preparing, fellowshipping, and setting themselves up to begin the new year with unwanted credit card debt.
I could talk for pages about the real meaning of Christmas and how consumerism has exploited a well-intentioned tradition. I could even regale you on the not so subtle Keynesian influences cajoling us to think that rampant retail spending in the last five weeks of the year will somehow save our economy from a recession. Keynesian economics, founded by John Maynard Keynes is the foundation for western economics as we have learned it. It emphasizes short term thinking and is hence contrary to the biblical view of leaving an inheritance to our children’s children.
Instead, we will take a more practical view of avoiding economic traps during the holidays. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, the winter solstice, or Fred Claus Day, unless you are in hibernation between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, your spending will likely increase. So, please indulge me to share a handful of wise, prudent, and practical economic sense.
In 2019, shoppers around the country said say they were planning to spend an average of $976 for gifts this holiday season, down from $992 last year according to the 35th annual survey on holiday spending from the American Research Group, Inc. That equates to over 17 percent of the median gross monthly income for a family of four ($5.7K). With the US savings rate of 14% in 2020 the costs of many families’ festivities will hangover well into next year. They will have a credit card bill!
Your traditions and spending plan may be just fine, but perhaps someone you know could be blessed by your sharing a few economic truths concerning the holidays. To that end, we are providing a few suggestions to consider that might help someone avoid the holiday debt hangover.
Choose your holiday traditions prayerfully and thoughtfully, especially for young families. You can begin creating your own, keeping some old, and creating new traditions that fit your family vision. It’s harder to fire Santa than to have never brought him onto the family’s annual payroll.
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).
Make a holiday spending plan. Decide how much you can comfortably spend on gifts and celebrations this year. If gifts are a part of your tradition, make a list of all the people to whom you would like to give gifts. After completing your list, write down how much you would like to spend on each person. Be sure to include the costs of decorations, wrapping, cards, and extra groceries in your spending plan.
Give good memories. Take a trip; plan some quality time with your beloveds. Keep in mind that some of the most appreciated gifts are not those that cost the most money but are the most meaningful. Handmade gifts, such as calendars, photo albums, and framed children’s artwork can provide a lifetime of smiles. Give your time and service to those in need. And never underestimate the power of a sentimental letter, song, or poem for that special person on your list. These heartfelt gifts are often the perfect choice.
Pay it forward by earning extra income to finance your holiday purchases. Many retailers need seasonal help to accommodate holiday shoppers. Taking a part-time job on the weekends will let you earn enough cash to avoid financing your purchases with credit cards.
Leave your credit cards at home. Studies have shown that people who use credit cards to buy gifts spend an average of 30 percent more than people who use cash. When you add in all the finance charges over months, or even years, that “perfect gift” could cost you twice what you paid for it, or more.
The holiday season is great for family, fun, and festivities. It need not be a drain on our finances. Never let twelve months of good stewardship go down the drain in December. You are blessed to be a blessing and chosen to lead by example. I pray you will receive this and pass it on in the spirit of getting understanding. It is still better to give than to receive, and while this may the season for giving, our best is to give love on Christmas and every other day.
“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’” (Luke 2:10).