Survive Christmas: Avoid Deals And Stay Debt Free

Survive Christmas? Really, is Christmas a season to survive? Is it a time to develop coping strategies to minimize debt? Surely, it is a time to control stress, and emerge excited about the New Year. However, it shouldn’t  be filled with so many negatives. Sadly, it is because merchants bombard us continually with so-called deals, specials, and sales, which tempt us. It’s time to get back to rejoicing this Christmas. So, here are some thoughts to help refocus us.

Traditionally, Christians celebrated the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Today, we have many distractions, unwittingly, Jesus’ birth is a small part of the season, not its primary reason. Fast paced events engulf us. We spend time doing the urgent instead of the important.  We worry about presents, decorating the home, preparing meals, instead of meditating on the significance of Jesus’ birth. Indeed, some people spend money they don’t have when they don’t know where they will get the next meal, or next month’s rent.

Survive Christmas - Watch Out for Deals
Survive Christmas – Watch Out for Deals

Survive Christmas – Avoid Seductive Deals

Christmas is a shopping season. It is the pinnacle of the shopping time started with Black Friday and Thanksgiving. These three events create a bonanza for merchants. These shopping periods continue to be a great profit-source for merchants and a significant boost to the economy. Merchants offer dubious deals. Innocent folks trying to exist on low incomes look out for merchant’s deals. They believe when the merchant offers 40, 50, 60% off, they get great values. Sadly, that’s not the case as merchants built these deal prices in their original pricing structures.

We need to look at value to us instead of percentage discounts, which are hooks to grab you and me. When we shop, we should work with a list and a budget and follow them.  And it’s important we decide what we need and not let discount amounts dictate our spending.

Some folks get special bonuses and other financial gifts at Christmas. If this applies to you, try not to spend these amounts on Christmas shopping. Ask the Lord to guide how you use these funds. If in debt, ask the Lord if you should put at least half against your debt.

Survey Christmas, Remember Money Walks!
Survey Christmas, Remember Money Walks!

Without Christmas spending, several businesses would cease to exist. The Christmas season provides a significant boost to many business’ bottom lines. A few years ago, continuing hostility to Jesus and especially to Christmas caused several merchants to drop the word Christmas and instead use the politically correct “holiday.” That proved to be bad for business and “Christmas” is back in vogue.

Take Control of Spending – Use a Budget

A recent BMO ‘holiday outlook’ shows that this Christmas, Canadians expect to spend an average of $1,810, up 12% over 2,012, and 30% over 2011. Travel is the biggest spending hike, rising 22 per cent over last year, and nearly doubling since 2011.

This BMO report follows Statistics Canada’s survey showing Canadians falling deeper in debt. The debt to income ratio has grown to 163.4, compared with 148 in the USA.

Over the past ten years, Canada’s growing debt has concerned me, especially since it climbed steadily during the Great Recession. Still, it keeps rising. The Federal government warns against rising consumer debt often, but its low interest rate policy and mortgage insurance support encourage more debt. I believe the housing bubble will burst… there is a limit to each bubble. Households will have to stop taking on more consumer debt… there is a limit to financial-induce stress people can tolerate. Government will have to stop supporting this irresponsible spending. When will the bubble burst? I don’t know; however, I know it must happen, and the economy will slow.

Survive Christmas – Understand You DO Not Save WHEn You Spend

How do you survive Christmas? Take control of your spending. Decide to spend with a list and a budget, and understand a deal does not mean value to you. Remember, deal, or no deal, you spend, and so you do not save when you spend. Think about this! Don’t let merchants seduce you. Look at how well merchants are doing. Remember 40, 50, 60% do not mean transfer of equivalent values from merchants to you. Even so, buy what you need based on your budget, not merchants’ enticements.

Survive Christmas! Please understand that merchants have been studying us, know why we buy, and will seduce us to buy products we don’t need. Learn about neuromarketing: and its effects on you.

Let’s get back to basics, get real with Jesus, and remember He accepts us just as we are…and He will never leave us or forsake us (Matthew 28:18-20).

© Copyright 2013, Michel A. Bell

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Michel A. Bell

Michel A. Bell is a former senior business executive, author of five books, speaker, and adjunct professor of business administration at Briercrest College and Seminary. Michel graduated from Massachuetts Institute of Technology with a masters of science in management. He is founder and president of Managing God's Money, a private mission devoted to teaching biblical stewardship of time, talent, money and other resources. Visit Managing God's Money

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