Most of us will spend a decent amount of money over the next few months.
It will all be good and fun and I don’t want to discourage you at all from stewarding the money God has given you to enjoy his good gifts. However, the fact remains that most of us will spend a lot of money during these last few months of the year.
Here’s what I mean.
In 2016, Americans spent $8.4 Billion (with a B) on Halloween. That’s a lot of tricks and treats. We move into November and many of us will either travel to family or prepare a meal for family at Thanksgiving. Then, there’s Christmas and all that comes with that—gifts, food, parties, eating out while you’re shopping, extra lights for your tree, all that you need for exterior illumination, etc.
There is always an opportunity to be generous at the end of the year and it wouldn’t take long to develop a pretty extensive list.
- Giving gifts through Operation Christmas Child or Angel Tree
- International Missions Offering
- Other end-of-year giving to various charities and organizations
This doesn’t include our regular monthly expenses, regular giving to our church, a trip to the mountains to the apple orchard or to see the leaves, new shoes for whatever sport Little Jane is playing or those nasty surprises that seem to happen every year the week before Christmas.
Again, most of will spend a decent amount of money over the next few months.
Now, pointing out this financial reality is not to get us to panic, but to encourage us to plan. What we don’t want to do is get overextended in our spending at the end of the year so that we start the year in a financial hole.
So, here are some helpful steps.
- Determine your values that determine your expenses. We spend according to our values. That’s why arguments about money are so heated. We aren’t arguing dollars and cents, we are arguing devotion and conviction. So, what do you value as the year ends? How will that shape your spending?
- Decide what you will spend before you spend it. Set a budget and work to stay within it. Resist the urge to overspend and rack up credit card debt. This will feel limiting for some. You may have to say “no” to something today to say “yes” to something later. One study suggested that over 43% of Americans felt pressure to spend more than we can afford at Christmas. Let’s not be in that number. Decide what you will spend and stick to it.
- Devote yourself to prayer. There are so many things for us to be anxious about and this post might have added to those for you. Paul writes in Philippians 4:6-7, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” If you are anxious about money or about planning, let your requests be made known to God and the promise is that peace will come to guard your heart.
This is my favorite time of year. I intend to enjoy it with my family and I hope you do as well. Let’s be determined in our values, decisive in our budget, and devoted in our prayer.