Your Christmas Bonus can jump start a financially healthy New Year. Will you get a Christmas bonus this year? How do you plan to spend it? Have you committed it already? Will you use it to chase deals and sales?
Although every month has spending enticements, the end of November through December is the prime spending season. For many people, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Boxing Day create significant opportunities to get huge deals and “save” substantial sums. However, by taking these deals, do people improve their quality of life, financial health, and overall well being? My research suggests they don’t. What’s your personal experience?
Black Friday sales started weeks before Black Friday and are continuing. Christmas sales began, and shortly, Boxing Day sales will start and run into Valentine’s “bargains.” People do not realize sales and deals are normal. Merchants know many greedy, uninformed people will think they save when they spend. So merchants continue to put out the message that you are saving money and getting great deals as you spend.
In one of my seminars, someone told me a sale is a debt enhancing act of lunacy, to which I added: it leaves you with a sad afterthought, lonely, and empty. These aren’t cute words, but they reflect reality in many folks’ lives. Think about those words! What’s been your experience? You know you spend what you don’t have to buy what you don’t need in these sales. Besides, sub-consciously, you know you never save when you spend.
I want to challenge you to answer five broad questions before you spend your Christmas bonus. Only after you are comfortable with your answers, decide to spend:
- Why do I want to buy this item?
- What might I think about this item in January if I buy it today?
- How else might I use these funds?
- How might spending on this item affect my ability to repay my loans and do other things I want to do next year?
- What if I wait 24-48 hours and then decide if I should spend?
Why Buy Dubious Sales Items WIth Your Christmas Bonus
Are you buying because of the temptation of a “deal” or the size of the so-called “savings”? Try to establish a process where you don’t spend based on merchants’ enticements, but only based on a well thought out “Money Map.” A Money Map is trip budget you prepare to go shopping. Like a roadmap, it shows your destination (what you plan to buy), route ( the maximum you will pay for each item), and the total amount you would spend to buy all things and not increase current debt.
The key is to plan how, when, and on what you spend. If while you are in the store, you see something that’s not on your Money Map, don’t buy it, but plan to buy it during a later trip with a particular Money Map for that purpose.
When you develop the habit of using a Money Map for each spending trip, you take control from merchants, and you decide how to use your funds as an active steward.
How will you Feel About the Christmas Bonus in January
Probably, you will regret using your Christmas bonus to gain more debt. But mostly, you might realize you didn’t get the joy you expected from the item when you bought it. Indeed, your credit card bill will make you unhappy.
What are Alternative uses for Your Christmas Bonus
Decide to use your Christmas bonus to improve your financial health. Don’t spend it out of guilt. Don’t let your neighbours’ situation or the pastors’ tithing sermon cause you to spend because you feel guilty. The Lord loves a cheerful giver. Ask Him how to spend.
Consider using your bonus to reduce student loans, credit card debt, save for a vacation, donate to charity. If you have no debt, think about starting a capital fund. I repeat, try to improve your financial situation.
How will Spending Your Christmas Bonus Affect Next Year’s Plans
Spend some time praying and reflecting on the coming year. What are particular goals you were considering? Are you planning to return to school? Take a trip? Make a special donation? Take up a new hobby? By spending your Christmas bonus on this deal, how might it compromise your ability to do your plans?
Are your loans causing extra stress in your family? Maybe, by reducing debt with the Christmas bonus, stress levels might become lower!
Pray about this significant area.
Why not Wait 24-48 Hours Before Spending
Most folks I know with a spending dilemma who wait 24 hours find the desire to spend 24 hours earlier disappeared. If you wait, pray and ask the Lord to guide you.
This spending season, decide to take control away from merchants and focus on using your Christmas bonus to improve your financial condition. By God’s grace, you can do it.
© 2017 Michel A Bell
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