by Erin Bird

It’s been one week (most likely) since you enjoyed turkey and football and giving thanks with family and friends. Which means, it’s now the Christmas season! Radio stations are now pumping out Christmas music over the airwaves. Houses are being decorated with colored lights. And loud advertisements on TV and in the newspaper tempt us to purchase gifts for our loved ones.

Well, those advertisements must work. Because Americans spend a LOT of money on Christmas.

Our Addiction to Spending
According to Forbes, last week’s Black Friday saw Americans spend over $6.2 billion – a new record. And Cyber Monday was even crazier, with Americans spending $7.8 billion (of which over $2 billion was purchased via smartphones). Investopedia estimates that Americans will spend around 4.5% more in 2018 than in 2017, meaning we will spend approximately $720 billion for the holidays.

That’s a lot of moola. But what does that equate to for the average consumer? Almost $900. And most of that $900-per-American goes on credit cards, which takes some people months to pay off (making it actually far more than $900!).

But while Americans are making VISA rich, global crises continue. For instance, Advent Conspiracy claims it would only take $10 Billion dollars to provide safe water to everyone on the globe.

So what if we spent a little less on ourselves this Christmas so we could give more to those in need?
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The Simple Power of “Spend Less”
As I have for the past three Christmases, I want to once again encourage you to Spend Less. Rather than convey your thoughtfulness to others through the amount you spend, I challenge you to convey your love through creative means such as:

  • handcrafting something rather than buying it
  • writing your loved one a poem or a song
  • giving a gift of food rather than a gift certificate to a restaurant
  • or even giving a homemade “coupon book” full of chores or tasks you will do for them

These types of gifts will be better for your bank account, better for your heart, and quite possibly better for your relationships.

A Real Life Example
I have shared this before, but here is one way my family lives this tenet out: LeAnn and I decided years ago to not give each of our kids 5 or 6 (or more) presents, nor focus on spending an equitable dollar amount on each of them. Instead, we give them only three gifts. Each gift is representative of the gifts the Magi gave the Christ Child in Matthew chapter 2.

  • The “myrrh” gift is something practical,
  • the “incense” gift is something to help them grow spiritually during the next year,
  • and the “gold” gift is the thoughtful, valuable gift – something we know will be meaningful to each of our kids.

We then set a budget for these gifts and stick to it. This helps us to Spend Less each Christmas while making Christmas more meaningful for our kids.

The Purpose of Spending Less
Keep in mind, the tenet of spending less isn’t so we’ll have more to spend on ourselves, rather by spending less, you are freed up to Give More (which is next week’s topic). Until next week’s Notes, though, think about how you can Spend Less this Christmas, while still making this one of the best Christmases you can remember.