The end of the year is approaching and everyone falls into the familiar hustle and bustle of preparing for the holidays. The Bible tells us in, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (English Standard Version).” If you are a believer, you know the story of Jesus’ birth and that we celebrate that birth during Christmas. You would think the season would be filled with joyous praise to our Heavenly father and the remembrance of the greatest gift to man. Matthew 2:2, in the Bible says, “Saying, Where is He who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw His star when it rose and have come to worship Him (ESV).” Unfortunately, this noble theme of Christmas has been transformed into a commercialized landslide of gift-giving and with that, comes a familiar mountain of DEBT! Analysts calculate that, according to the latest data, Americans will average $1,003 in debt stemming from the holidays (www.magnifymoney.com).
This is not including any previous debt from last year, current bills, or other debt one may have. To think that one or two holidays can add this amount of debt annually, is enough to cause warning and hopefully result in caution. My intention, is to suggest valid ways to battle this growing problem and help you save money during this time. Three major tips that will most likely change the debt game for you is 1. Crafting gifts, 2. Delegating portions of the dinner and finally 3. Choosing which parties and events to attend.
CRAFTING has been trending for almost two years. With the growing popularity of Pinterest and other Do It Yourself (DIY) sites; crafting and/or re-purposing items is a wonderful way to gift. Think about the likes and interests of your family and friends and find quick and easy projects that enable you to create multiple gifts at one time. Forget the old rules about gift giving that states you have to get each person a unique gift. For example, a specific Christmas DIY was the treat-filled slippers. I know for a fact that this gift is a treat for all because I’ve done it for both Mother’s and Father’s Day gift sets. I will purchase packs of small items that can fit inside the slippers and then choose the slippers for each person I’m gifting. I then fill the slippers with one item from each of the packs. I didn’t have to spend a large amount of money or time. Check out Pinterest, Weebly.com, Thespruce.com or Apartmenttherapy.com for gift giving or those lovely holiday decorating ideas.
DELEGATING the cooking is definitely not an easy feat. Can you imagine a grandmother delegating who will make her famous recipes for the holidays? Well, there’s one that has done this and it’s my MOM! Mother Jackie Johnson says, “I have one of my daughters fix the mashed potatoes, because she makes them really creamy, and she was chosen to fry the chicken because she can fry big batches and still make it taste delicious.” Mother Johnson goes on to say, that she elected “pie-fixing to daughter #3 because she is known for making new and exciting cheesecake flavors.” Our family is continuously growing and my mother and oldest sister usually man the kitchen, but with over 40 mouths to feed at times, it can get overwhelming. I’m glad they both realized that the amount of time and money is a team effort. Keep your favorite dish you like to cook and let the rest of the family help out.
CHOOSING which holiday parties, church services, or family events can also ease the strain of spending money and time while participating. If there is a Christmas program and a Christmas Eve service, it’s okay to choose only one to attend. If your family is large and you have to attend several services, members can split up and tackle the multiple programs in groups. Reducing the number of paid events you attend will lighten the load on your pockets. If a friend or organization has a charity event, opt to donate if the price of tickets are high. I’m sure they will appreciate the thoughts and efforts you have offered in lieu of attending.
Don’t let the holidays stress you or your pockets. Remember the traditional reason for the season and steer your family toward saving, rather than creating new debt for a day or two of celebration. Let us all be grateful for what we have and pray that we can start new traditions. This will, in turn, save money and stop the cycle of frivolous spending. God gave us a gift that keeps on giving everyday of our lives, why not follow suit?