Proverbs 22:7 (NIV)
7 The rich rule over the poor,
and the borrower is slave to the lender.
According to a recent study, the average American household could be paying off this Christmas for the next four years. Statistics also show that the average American spends over $600 on Christmas gifts, with 36% of those purchases being made on credit.
While using credit and going into debt is not a "sin", the Bible does not have a single positive thing to say about debt and in fact tells us to do everything within our power to avoid it.
I am glad that as a child my parents grasped the Biblical concept that the borrower is slave to the lender and avoided debt at every cost. On the "negative" side this meant that there were a couple of Christmas's where my siblings and I didn't have the shiniest new toys, but I can assure you that at the time and even to this day I did not feel the least bit deprived. In fact, I am glad that my parents taught me the valuable lesson of being content at such a young age.
So, if we are going to avoid debt how are we going to still have a good Christmas with our families?
1. Save Ahead
According to an informal study I have conducted, Christmas has been on December 25th for over 1500 years. Using this new found knowledge I got out the trusty calculator and did a little math. Using our numbers from earlier of an average spending of $600 per family, if you were to save $50 a month from January to December you would have the full amount set aside in cash by the time Christmas rolls around. If that sounds like a bit much, you can break things down, you could save $25 twice a month or even further, do $10 or $12 a week.
It may not seem easy at the moment, but the Bible tells us that even simple ants have the common sense to sacrifice all year so they are ready for the winter.
6 Go to the ant, you sluggard;
consider its ways and be wise!
7 It has no commander,
no overseer or ruler,
8 yet it stores its provisions in summer
and gathers its food at harvest.
2. Be Creative
There is nothing wrong with being creative when it comes to Christmas gifts.
My mother was, and to this day, remains to be the most creative when it comes to Christmas gifts, in fact, I was at her house a few days ago and she was busy sewing away in the back room working on some gifts.
As a child there were a few Christmas's where we got all of the shiny new toys and plastic thingies, but honestly, one of my earliest and most fond Christmas memories was the year that my mom constructed drum sets for my brother and me out of coffee can's and construction paper.
That year we didn't get all of the shiny new plastic toys that would most likely be discarded within a few weeks, but rather my mother's creativity sparked a lifelong love of music in my brother and me, and to this day we both play multiple instruments, including my own amazing abilities as a drummer.
Current Picture for Reference:
3. Be Realistic
One more way to avoid the curse of Christmas debt is to be realistic with your spending. If you have saved $600 like I suggested above and you have perhaps 10 people you are buying for, simple math tells us that you cannot spend $75 per person. You are going to have to set a realistic budget and keep the spending to around $60. This may not seem pleasant at first, but my wife, ever the spender, has learned to take this as a challenge, and is now always hunting to make sure that she finds the best deal for each person's gift. This coincidentally works in her favor, as that woman loves to shop like no other.
If you follow some of these simple steps and use some common sense and basic math, you can ensure that this Christmas does not end up haunting you for the next 4 years.
In conclusion, the Bible tells us that this discipline is not always pleasant at the time, but in the long run we are better off for it.
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
To learn even more about saving, avoiding debt and all around handling money God's way, consider attending our 9 week Financial Peace University this upcoming January.