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During the Christmas season, it’s easy to spend far too much money on food, decorations, and presents for those we love. However, evangelist Billy Graham has warned that overspending is actually a “spiritual problem” and shared tips for remaining within budget this holiday season.
The 99-year-old founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association shared his thoughts on Christmas spending in a recent “My Answers” column published on his website.
“Every year I tell myself that I’m not going to get caught up in the Christmas shopping crush-but every year I hit the stores as soon as they open the day after Thanksgiving. I’ll probably do the same this year. I know this isn’t a spiritual question, but why can’t I be more self-controlled?” the reader asked.
Graham first contended that “although it may not strike you as such, in reality this is a spiritual question-because it deals with everything from the way we use our money, to what we think is really important in life.” He quoted Jesus’ words in Luke 12:34: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
“Is it wrong to want to pick up bargains as you shop for Christmas presents? No, not really; we all love a good bargain, and the Bible encourages us to be thrifty,” he said. “But how often do you end up buying more than you intended to buy, or spending more than you intended to spend? And how often do you end up angry or frustrated or exhausted, because you’ve had to fight the crowds or spent too much time searching for one last present?”
To not overspend this Christmas, Graham advised planning ahead, making a list, writing out a budget, and setting aside some time for rest.
“Be thoughtful about your gifts, also; don’t try to impress someone or win their goodwill by buying something you really can’t afford (and they don’t really need). Set aside time also for special events-a Christmas concert, a special ride to see the lights, etc,” he said.
He concluded: “The most important thing you can do, however, is to put Christ at the center of your Christmas-and your life. ‘In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind’ (John 1:4).”
According to statistics, the United States’ retail industry generated over three trillion U.S. dollars during the holidays in 2013, reflecting about 19.2 percent of the retail industry’s total sales that year. Unfortunately, e 62% of parents admit to spending more than they should over the holidays, according to a 2015 study, and 9% of parents are tapping emergency family cash to do so, and 7% are dipping into 401(k)s or IRAs.
Dave Ramsey, an outspoken Christian and author of four New York Times bestselling books on money and finance, shared these four tips for surviving Christmas financially.
1) It’s not an emergency. Christmas is not an emergency, it happens every year. Don’t use this as an excuse to overspend and buy things you can’t afford.
2) Make a Holiday Budget. Make a list of everyone you are buying a gift for, and put a dollar amount by every name. Total it at the bottom. This is your Christmas budget.
3) Pay cash. Put the total from your budget in an envelope, and when the cash is gone stop spending.
4) Avoid debt. If you’re running a little short on cash, talk to your family about spending expectations. Draw names, set price limits or get creative. Whatever you do, don’t go into debt. It’s not worth it!