In the December 2019 Navigator I wrote: “The most sacred time of the year is approaching this month. Too many times the reason for the season isn’t top of mind for many Christians. Jesus, and his ultimate sacrifice for our souls, is overrun by commercialism.”
I went on to outline that commercialism had taken over — creating a new “Reason for the Season.” At the end of October in 2019 companies that wanted to sell you something had spent $70.6 billion on television advertising, and they broadcast almost 15 minutes of commercials for every primetime hour. I should come as no surprise that in 2021 just digital ad spending will increase more than 60 percent. Yes, Jesus has competition.
Jesus only has competition if we allow advertisers to fill our heads with materialistic wants instead of our spiritual needs. If we remain in spiritual union with Christ, it will be easy to resist temptation. Many times, we allow the pleas of advertisers and members of our own families to circumvent the will of Christ in our lives.
The word of God is very specific. David wrote in Psalm 37:21, “The wicked borrow and do not repay.” Paul wrote in Romans 13:8, “Pay all your debts except the debt of love for others— never finish paying that!” And maybe the foremost warning comes from 1 Tim. 6:10, “For the love of money is the root of all evil.”
Nowhere in the Bible does it say you shouldn’t use debt; however, we should enter into debt cautiously. It doesn’t make sense for us to go out and use our plastic willy-nilly at any time, much less during the holiday season. We should remember, before we pull out that plastic card that there is interest attached. Every dollar you spend could cost an addition 25 percent or more.
A new enemy
Aside from the big box stores and other small and large stores that are calling our names multiple times during the Christmas season —now you can shop from at home while sitting on your couch. It’s too easy. No traffic, no crowded shops, you just click a few items and, voila, many will be delivered to your door in a couple of days — some the next day. You can do more shopping online in 10 minutes than you can in 10 hours running from shop to shop. While you’re clicking away, you can easily lose track of how much money you’re spending. Online shopping is expected to increase by 30 percent this year. No wonder, the pandemic forced us inside for a good portion of 2020 and it’s natural for people to want to stretch out a little but keep those impulses under control.
Two years ago, I wrote how you could avoid overspending. The first rule of thumb is, “Don’t dig a hole for yourself.” The second rule is, “when you’re in a hole, stop digging.”
Guilt drives many to overspend. They want their children to want for nothing, especially on Christmas Day. Many families get caught up in a vicious cycle of spending — splurging for Christmas then working hard all year to pay the debt only to repeat the cycle. That’s not how Christ wants his people to live.
How to avoid overspending
One technique is to set a budget. The average American is expected to spend almost $1,100 on holiday gifts and we’ve already talked about credit card debt that comes at a price.
How do you explain to your children that they might not receive as many gifts as they expect? In 2019 I advocated for an article by Paula Pant in “The Balance.” Pant and Harvard bankruptcy expert Sen. Elizabeth Warren — coined the “50/30/20 rule” for spending and saving with her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi. They co-authored a book in 2005: “All Your Worth: The Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan.” See how it works here:
I wrote then, “The “50/30/20” rule will help you decide what your needs and wants are — and for many, the rule will introduce a third category, “Savings.” Using the rule will also help keep your family from driving off a cliff during the holiday season and allow you to be of clear mind as you worship our Christ, knowing that you didn’t allow the crass commercialism to sneak in and take hold of a sacred season that should be full of worship rather than shopping.”
Written by Charles Richardson