Ask Chuck: Christmas Shopping on a Budget
Money is tight for Christmas this year. Any tips for shopping Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales?
Looking for Deals
Dear Looking for Deals,
You can search for articles pointing you to the “best deals” on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but be aware that many of those articles are really just sponsored advertising made to look like neutral journalism.
My biggest tip is: don’t let Black Friday create a Red New Year! That is, avoid going into debt.
Retailers are highly dependent on holiday sales. Black Friday supposedly got its name because it was the day many went from being “in the red” to “in the black.” It is the day when profits finally appeared on the books.
This has been a very difficult year for many retailers. They desperately need sales. Potential lockdowns have motivated customers to buy gifts early to avoid disruptions in physical shopping or online shipping.
BlackFriday.com predicts, “a strong uptick in retail spending during Black Friday week compared to the rest of 2020 – but not compared to recent Black Fridays…if shoppers are out looking for deals, we predict they are more likely to comb for specific needed items (a new fridge, a new laptop, a new phone) rather than shop indiscriminately for less-necessary items, such as clothing, beauty products, and gadgets.”
Due to Covid concerns or restrictions, many retailers are anticipating a very large Cyber Monday, the day when online retailers offer steep discounts on certain items. But, don’t assume you are getting a good deal just because it is marked down online. Be sure to factor in shipping costs and do your research on any significant purchases.
A Few Shopping Tips
It’s easy to spend money you don’t currently have to buy gifts, or just to be done with the chaos of Christmas shopping. But taking the easy route now will prove to be far more stressful for you come January when your credit card bills arrive. That’s why it is important to take some time to determine how much you can really afford.
Don’t presume future income will cover your credit card bills. We don’t know what the future holds. 2020 has proven that!
Here are five simple tips:
- Develop a budget for all of your Holiday shopping including hospitality expenses.
- Shop with a list. Scour online stores for price comparisons. Look for special offers.
- Shop for needs. Avoid spontaneous spending on items for yourself that are non-essential for the Holidays.
- Don’t go into debt. Repeat this to yourself.
- Avoid comparing your situation with others; that leads to emotional spending. Advertising and social media can make you feel depressed during the Holidays. Be grateful for what you have and for what you can give.
A Change of Perspective
Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and others are closed this Thanksgiving. Some see this as a negative. I see it as a gift for those employees to rest and enjoy time off, if possible, with friends and family.
Contrary to what the world says, money is not required to express love. You can plan fun activities and gifts that don’t cost a lot. A debt-free Christmas is a gift for yourself and one that ultimately impacts your family!
We know from the past how crazy Black Friday can get. So, let’s put things in perspective.
Just because something is on sale does not mean you need it or that it won’t be there in January. It’s important to exercise self-control and patience by avoiding the use of credit cards when you don’t have the option to pay with cash. I use credit cards but I pay them off every month. If you can’t, don’t use them. The cost of interest on top of the purchase price puts many in financial bondage. If credit card debt is already part of your holiday overwhelm, I recommend contacting Christian Credit Counselors. Crown is privileged to partner with CCC to help free individuals and families from the burden of credit card debt.
Don’t justify spending more than you can afford. Pray for self-control because it is easy to succumb to the bombardment of advertising. Satan can subtly convince us that we need “things” to be happy, accepted, or content, or that our children need the latest and greatest gadget.
The prophet Haggai was sent to bring an important message to the people of Judah. He said: “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, declares the Lord of hosts.” God is the Owner of all things and appoints believers to be managers of what He provides.
Knowing that, let’s use the holiday shopping season as a time to steward our money
- for His glory – not our gain,
- His purposes – not our pleasure, and
- His will – not our whims.
Don’t let Black Friday give you a Red New Year!
This article was originally published on The Christian Post on November 27, 2020.