More so than usual it is extremely important to have a game plan for Christmas shopping this season.  With the economic situation as it is people will intend to spend less; however, many will still spend more than they should.

People, even those who are financially disciplined, will lose all financial reason leading up to Christmas. Many people feel pressured (often self-imposed pressure)  to spend more they can afford on gifts. In fact their generosity often backfires because the Christmas over-spending inhibits the ability to be generous to worthy things during other parts of the year.

Here are a few tips to help avoid post-Christmas financial hangover!

1. Know that love is more important than stuff.

2. Decide on a dollar amount that you can afford to pay before making the list of names and items. Get that dollar amount out of the bank and put it in an envelope.

3.  Make your list of names and divide the dollars between them as evenly or unevenly as you see fit. Decide if you will buy anything for yourself or not. (I’ve read that up to 50% of money spent on Christmas shopping is spent by the shopper for the shopper.)

5. Put items of appropriate dollar amount next to the names, and do web searches to find the stores with the best prices. Remember that sometimes people would prefer your time or expertise in a matter over a gift. They get something often more special and you don’t go into more debt. Examples: proofreading a paper or raking leaves or a coupon for a picnic for 2 at the park

6. Take your Christmas cash with you to the store and leave your credit cards behind. It’s just too tempting when you are at the store to impulse buy and overspend, “oh, so and so would just love this, and it’s on sale!”  If you buy something on-line then take the cash amount and put it back in your bank account, then pay that amount on your credit card on the same billing cycle.

7. Stick to your budget. When you are out of Christmas cash your shopping is over. You might not like that fact now, but you will appreciate not having the stress of Christmas bills still hanging on in March or later.

Most importantly remember that the whole point of Christmas is supposed to be worshipping Jesus. Having family and friends to love and be generous towards is an added bonus. Loving family and friends do not want to receive generosity at the expense of financial damage and stress to someone they love.

Luke 2:8-12, “And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Sharing the “good news of great joy” is a wonderful gift to give and enjoy this time of year and throughout the year!