Our culture loves to be generous during the Christmas season. But too often, its unplanned and haphazard which leaves us with January bills and regret. Here are a few ways to plan ahead this season!

1 // Give First

Be systematic about your giving. Make it a percentage of your income or even start by giving the same amount on a regular basis. By giving regularly – weekly or monthly – you acknowledge that all you have really does belong to God.

2 // You need an emergency fund

Don’t get surprised when something goes wrong. Tires don’t last forever! Pipes freeze! Be prepared by having your savings in order.

3 // Make a list

Who are you giving gifts to this year? What will you purchase for them? By making a list in advance of your shopping you’ll be less inclined to wander and buy things you’ll regret. This year we established a family list on Apple Notes and shared it (all of us have iPhones). You can also share a Google Doc.

4 // Make a Budget

Yes, you heard me. Know in advance how much you have to spend and stick to it! To make a Christmas budget you need to know your monthly spending giving, saving and spending budget.

5 // Establish Spending Limits

We drew names this year amongst all the adults and set a limit of $100.

6 // Pay with Cash or Debit not credit

When you pay with credit it’s easy to overspend. Too many people come into January with credit card bills they can’t afford to pay.

7 // Relax – and Resist the Urge to Compare

Too often we are trying to impress people with our giving and our entertaining. Christmas becomes a stressful competitive sport. Just chill out.

8 // Learn to say No

You don’t have to go to every party or have EVERYONE at your house. You don’t have to give a gift to everyone who gives to you. Stick to your list and your budget (see #’s 3 and 4).

9 // Don’t buy it if you can’t afford it

It’s pretty simple. Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford.

10 // Set Realistic Expectations

For yourself, your spouse, and especially your children. Does your seven-year-old really need that drone? Or for that matter your 59-year-old husband? (Honey, I really did want that at the Apple store – I can control it with my phone!)

11 // Find a Family Project

Don’t make Christmas all about you! There are many projects you can get involved with around town. Need help? Call our Life Center and serve there!

12 // Make Gifts

It’s a great way to have fun, be more personal and show love. Candy making, cookie baking, jellies, and jams. The kids will have a great time and Pinterest will give you endless ideas.

13 // Remember what Christmas is about and that Love Has Come.

Jesus didn’t come to make Christmas into a frenzy of materialism. He came to bring us life and set us free. Let’s get on mission with Him and what He’s doing.

If you are ready to stop living with financial anxiety, join our Financial Peace University starting in January.