Black Friday Savings: Where Are They?

Black Friday savings, where are they? With the firms where you shopped. Not with you.

You were among the first batch who rushed into the store to grab Black Friday deals. You overcame significant odds to get your desires: A big-screen TV, 50% off; drill, 40% off; bicycle 50% off; camping gear 70% off. You estimate these deals saved you around $700, with the average deal being 50% off.

It’s time to celebrate! Call your friends to brag-just a bit-about your breathtaking deals. Besides, you finished your Christmas shopping, to boot. You can’t believe these colossal bargains which have allowed you to complete your Christmas shopping early for the first time.

Black Friday Savings – the Bait to Get you to Spend

Forgive me, truly, I do not want to rain on your parade, but you need to understand you have been conned. Black Friday savings is a bait. It’s a hook to catch you. Reflect on these four questions?

Black Friday Savings Means You Are Digging A Deeper Hole -- Taking On More Debt
Black Friday Savings Means You Are Digging A Deeper Hole — Taking On More Debt

First, where are the $700 you saved? The ‘original’ prices of items bought amounted to $1,400. Your amazing deals resulted in 50% discount; therefore, you spent $700. Please explain how you saved $700? Listed price of items are irrelevant; the reality is you spent $700. If the items were $10,000, and you paid $700, you saved zero but spent $700.

I hear this response to my question often: “Well, prices totaled $1,400, and I spent only $700, and so I saved $700.” Really? How can you save when you spent $700? Where did you put those Black Friday savings through the years? Where are they now? Did the stores give you these so-called savings? Are they in your savings account?

Second, how did you pay for your $700 buys? Did you use your credit card? Probably, you did. Instead of saving $700, you spent $700. Even so, that’s just the start of your spending. Likely, you will carry a balance on your card. Like a snowball rolling down a hill, this balance will grow, and grow, and grow, and stunt your finances for years.

Third, is any consumer item worth a “debt sentence” that will impair your future? Wake up; you can’t save when you spend. It is insane to stand in line, rush in a store, buy any item on credit and not pay the full balance monthly. When the negative effects start, you will tell folks you can’t pay your bills. Naturally, this insane act will guarantee you won’t pay your bills. Among those bills are these unneeded buys you call deals.

Fourth, early January when you must adjust your lifestyle because of your irrational spending, whom will you blame? Merchants? Banks? Government? The “one-percent”? Your poor judgement?

Black Friday Savings means You Spend not Save

Black Friday savings mean you spend, usually on credit. Also, Black Friday savings means you will fall deeper in debt. Please remember, a deal is a debt enhancing act of lunacy that is guaranteed to leave you depressed, empty, anxious, and lonely. Still, you will have these deal items you waited in line to buy. How many prior Black Friday deals were in your last garage sale? Think deeply about this.

Budgeting to buy needed items on sale for cash or on credit without carrying a balance is smart. Even so, when you buy these items, you save nothing. You might pay a lower price than you expect, but that does not save you a dime. Instead, you spend less than budget, which is not a saving.

Plan to change your vocabulary in the new year so merchants do not trap you with the ridiculous idea of saving when you spend. Perhaps this slogan trap you this Black Friday: “The more you spend the more you save.”

For more Christian financial advice, and to learn debt free shopping view this brief video clip: debt free shopping view this brief video clip.

© 2014 Michel A. Bell

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Biblical Stewardship Advice: Source of True Wealth

Biblical stewardship advice will keep us debt free. Biblical stewardship helps us understand real wealth. Worldly advice to gain and share material wealth often includes this statement: “be wise and frugal handling finances.” The answer is, “sort of.” The real issue is wisdom’s source. The Ninth Edition of the Concise Oxford Dictionary defines wisdom as “experience and knowledge together with the power of applying them critically or practically.” Surely, feeding mathematical models with trends, other data and practicing thrift may lead to temporary financial gain. However, this happens without God’s peace and joy.

Biblical Stewardship Advice and Real Wealth

Biblical stewardship starts with following The Shepherd
Biblical stewardship starts with following The Shepherd

What is true wealth? It is free. It comes from Jesus. It’s not material or temporal, but relational. It’s the richness that comes from admitting our helpless state. Our need for Jesus, and then surrendering to His Lordship. True wealth is a personal relationship with Jesus. It’s having continual access to Him.

Material wealth, on the other hand, often comes from devoting our lives to gaining financial and other stuff. This path is an unwise choice that King Solomon describes in Eccelesiastes 2:24-26 as chasing after the wind. It produces ruin. Please understand what I am saying. I am not suggesting that we should not earn money, produce a profit, or save material wealth. Rather, I propose we devote our lives to serving Jesus and let Him direct our actions. If this leads to material wealth, let’s allow Jesus decide how to handle it.

Speaking through the profit Jeremiah, God tells us that knowing God needs to be our priority:

Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, 24but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight…(Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Biblical stewardship advice means knowing God. Biblical stewardship always seeks Jesus for direction. It’s essential followers of Jesus live a life that shows His kindness, justice, and righteousness. Jesus’ followers can live this life. We have the Holy Spirit living in us as Teacher and Guide. He will lead us to put into effect godly wisdom in our daily lives.

Biblical stewardship advice needs Godly Wisdom

Biblical stewardship advice for our financial affairs needs godly wisdom. Biblical stewardship starts with accepting Jesus’ ownership of all funds. It continues with accepting our roles as His stewards. It means  placing all funds, available time, and talents under His control, and then asking Him to guide their use.

As Jesus’ managers, our main goal should be to increase funds we use in His Kingdom and reduce funds we use elsewhere. Meanwhile, we must ensure we do not put our hope and identity in material wealth. Instead, we hold money and stuff loosely so we may be free to use them as the Lord directs.

For Christian financial advice, biblical stewardship advice, and advice on personal effectiveness improvement, visit: Managing God’s Money.

© 2012, Michel A. Bell

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Canadian Household Debt Level Unsustainable

A recent Bank of Montreal report carried disturbing information about Canadians’ debt levels. It stated that a small interest rate rise would shock 72% of homeowners. Essentially, 72% of the people surveyed can’t afford their homes.

Debt burden
Debt burden

Canadians’ household debt levels just keep going up. The federal finance minister and governor of Bank of Canada continue to plead with Canadians to stop accumulating debt. The reverse is happening. The latest Statistics Canada’s revision to 2011 household debt as a percentage of disposable income from 150.6% to 161.7% is just as troubling. Indeed, the current debt level of 163% of disposable income is around America’s pre-crash level. When our crash comes, as it must, Canadians can blame themselves alone.

I believe one money myth is a significant household debt driver. Many folks believe if their rent is less than a potential mortgage they can afford to buy a home; their friendly banker facilitates this myth. These folks ignore the full cost of home ownership and forget interest rates are at historical lows.

While government has been warning Canadians to stop gathering debt, it has the solution; it can increase interest rates. To its credit, gradually, government has been tightening conditions for insured mortgages. And affected potential homeowners need to grow up and stop irresponsible borrowing. They know they can’t afford their homes, but greed, pride, and impatience propel them to irrational spending.

Nevertheless, it seems the government wants to eat its cake and still have it. Government knows an interest rate hike will slow the already sluggish economy, so it hesitates. Inaction is myopic because personal debt levels are unsustainable. Which is worse? Wait until everything crumbles, or start creeping rates to cut consumer appetite to take on more unaffordable debt? I vote for the latter, even though it is too late to dent the problem significantly.

What can you do today if you are amongst the 72% with a seemingly unaffordable mortgage? First, start a spending fast. Next, develop a sacrificial budget. If the sacrificial budget shows you’re unable to function at this adjusted lifestyle with your current mortgage, look at different housing alternatives including selling your home.

It’s important to understand that it’s acceptable to sell your home and rent, probably a more modest home. One reason you would wish to sell your house is the market is likely to be better today than later when more people in your situation might be forced to sell at the same time. Besides, generally, in our bubble conditions today, your options and timing might be better.

Finally, if you’re a Christian seek God’s direction before acting. You might find these five biblical stewardship verses helpful in your reflections with God.

Copyright © 2012, Michel A. Bell

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