Christmas joy and Christmas spendingBy Randell Tiongson on December 8th, 2009
It’s December! Cooler nights and mornings… christmas decors and christmas carols.
When I was a child, I have always loved the Christmas season like every other child. I have often looked forward to the season with joy, excitement and much anticipation.
I have to admit that I still have the childish feeling when it’s the Christmas season and, as a father, I love seeing my children enjoy the same excitement I had decades ago. Buying our daughters a doll house, and my sons their action figures. Reunions and all those wonderful Christmas experiences are memorable moments forever etched in my heart.
While I still have those youthful warm feelings about the Christmas season, there is one thing that us adults always have to contend with: Christmas spending.
After all the Christmas festivities have winded down, have you ever found yourself hoping that you did not have to spend as much as you did? Have you ever vowed that you’ll never spend as much again, yet you find yourself spending more again the following Christmas?
If you do, welcome to the club! But don’t despair because if you really want to curb your Christmas spending, here are some easy tips:
§ Make a priority list. Determine who should be an absolute “must” to receive a gift from you. You can set an order of priority, like spouse, children, parents, siblings, etc. While you may want to be a generous giver, you are not the fictional Santa Claus. Your boss or your officemates will not take it against you if you only give them a simple Christmas card this year, or better yet a sincere greeting. If a friend of yours will feel bad that you don’t have a gift for him/her, he/she may not be such a good friend after all, right?
§ Set a budget. I know this is not easy, but it is best that you have a budget for your Christmas spending. Determine the amount you are able to set aside and make sure that this budget will not eat up on your mandatory expenses, like rent, food and utilities. It really doesn’t make sense that you give Christmas expenses a priority over your necessary expenses. After determining your budget, you may now allocate them according to your priority list.
§ Be creative. Most people will always equate a good gift with an expensive gift. Year after year, well-meaning friends will churn out really expensive gifts which I really appreciate, but can’t reciprocate. Sometimes, I’d like to tell them that the gesture is more important than the gift. I will have the same appreciation if they gave me a card or an uber-expensive Christmas basket. It may be cliché but it’s really the thought that counts. I have a good friend who gives me the best Christmas gift year after year—an offer of prayer.
§ Never buy your gifts on credit. Don’t use your credit card, don’t buy something on “gives” and don’t use deferred payments. Buying gifts to please others and yet bury yourself into consumer debt is one of the most unwise things you can ever do. If I go home with a nice expensive gift for my wife and yet I purchased it through credit, she will definitely have an issue with it and it will really spoil the gesture. Give what you can afford, if you can’t afford it, don’t give it. I’ve always subscribed to the saying that “you can’t give what you don’t have.” Buying gifts on credit is the same banana.
My biggest advice to the readers is to remember what Christmas is all about. There was once a wonderful commercial on television where they started the ad with the photo of Santa Claus. There was an eraser and pencil that changed the photo of the jolly old Santa to the picture of the real reason for the season, Jesus Christ.
We should start thinking less of the ho ho ho’s and more of the hallelujahs! Christmas has been replaced with rabid commercialism, which has engulfed all of us. I don’t think that was what the Lord expects from us.
While there is nothing wrong with sharing the spirit of Christmas by merry-making and gift-giving, let us always remember that we can’t let social pressures affect proper personal finance management or our faith. Besides, we are already recipients of the best gift we can ever have and the Bible made it clear in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”