PayPal provides an excellent service which I have used for years. All you have to do is put in your name, debit/credit card information, and then create a PayPal account. This then allows you to enjoy the ease of online shopping without having to tediously enter all that information into every single website you purchase from.
The other day however, I received an email advertisement from PayPal promoting their new “bill me later” feature. The email went like this: “The holidays are coming! Be ready with bill me later!” As I read this advertisement this thought came to mind: “Is having to “bill me later” really being “prepared” for Christmas shopping?” The answer to this question is clearly no.
Unfortunately however, many people operate with this mindset. Last Christmas season, I received a different advertisement saying: “Need fast cash for the holidays? Take out a title loan!” Again, if you need to put your car up as collateral for a loan in order to buy Christmas gifts, you are not prepared for Christmas shopping.
Christmas shopping has the potential to be a very stressful event. Here are some ways to minimize the stress as a couple while shopping for loved ones this Christmas season.
1. Don’t get into debt!
There is nothing that will make Christmas shopping more stressful than to having to pay off debt after the gifts are given. In addition to the many biblical principles advising against getting into debt, it has been the cause of many marital fights, as well as the stated reason for why many marriages end in divorce.
Using credit cards is like playing with fire if you don’t know what you are doing. If you cannot make a purchase otherwise, you cannot afford it. They should ONLY be used if you KNOW that you will be able to pay them off at the end of the month.
2. Budget for it!
Instead of getting into debt for Christmas gifts, figure out about how much you will need well in advance, and then set aside a little more than that. When you go shopping, make sure you stick to the budget.
3. Plan how you will meet the budget
After figuring out how much you will need, ($1,000 for example) figure out how much you will need to set aside out of each paycheck in order to have the money in hand when you are ready to start shopping. For example, if you need $1,000 in 2 months, you will need to set aside $250 out of each paycheck if you get paid on a biweekly basis.
4. Make decisions together
Just as in EVERY area of marriage, it is so important that couples make decisions about Christmas shopping together (i.e. how much to spend, who to buy for, what to buy, etc.). This will reduce the level of stress because it minimizes the opportunity for one spouse to go behind the other’s back. This also helps to build teamwork.
5. Learn to differentiate between wants and needs
Because of the high cultural expectations place upon the exchange of Christmas gifts, it is easy to feel obligated to buy gifts for people even when you cannot afford it. Christmas gifts are wants, not needs. Even though there are high expectations, if a couple is going through a tight financial time, it may be wise to either go really simple this year, or find a creative alternative. We certainly don’t want to offend or hurt our loved ones, but if using debt is the only way to buy gifts, it may be a good idea to sit this year out.
6. Let the spouse who enjoys shopping handle it
Typically in a marriage, one spouse enjoys shopping more than the other, and is better at finding bargains. While it is usually the wife who is more of a shopper, there are exceptions to this rule. Once the budget has been decided on, the decisions have been made together about who to buy for, and the money has been saved, then it is a good idea to let the spouse who actually enjoys shopping take care of it.
Christmas shopping has the potential to be a stressful ordeal. However, as we have seen, by following a few simple principles, the stress can be drastically reduced. But you know what? Christmas shopping isn’t the only area where financial wisdom applies. It is so important to learn how to live within your means in every area. You can read more about this in a four part series I wrote on that very topic by clicking here.
What are some ways which you have found to be helpful in reducing the stress of Christmas shopping? Please feel free to leave a comment sharing with us!
This post is part of our Surviving the Holidays With Your Marriage Intact series! Come back all month long for tips, advice, giveaways, and a FREE eBook on the Holidays here at A Biblical Marriage. You can find the rest of the series HERE.