Christmas Giving Self Exam: How Did You Do?

by Joe Plemon on December 23, 2009

While your 2009 Christmas giving is still fresh in your mind, I challenge you to do a self exam on how well you did. Hopefully, a check up today will help you improve next year. Simply ask yourself the following questions:
Julklapparna inslagna
Creative Commons License photo credit: Jonas N

Did I overspend?

You knew I was going to ask that one…but did you? Hint: if you still owe on some gifts, you overspent. Don’t justify overspending by saying, “It was for the kids” or “I had to….my family expects it.” If you are feeling anxious about that upcoming January credit card statement, don’t ignore that emotion or stuff it to your subconscious. Allow it to surface and use your anxiety as a motivator to plan for a 2010 debt free Christmas. How do you prevent Christmas debt next year? The simplest way is to start a Christmas club today and make the size of your savings dictate your Christmas budget next year. Remember: Christmas will come in December next year just like it did this year.

Did I buy thoughtful gifts?

This one, for me, is a lot tougher. A thoughtful gift is something that will be cherished by the recipient. My wife, the expert at buying thoughtful gifts, will shop throughout the year for “just the right thing”. Janice has a knack of empathizing with her loved ones; seeing life through their eyes and therefore intuitively knowing what they would like. If you (like me) are not great on empathy, simply observe. For example, if my son borrows my cordless drill 10 times a year, he might just need one himself.

Creative Commons License photo credit: _Ricky

Did I give to those in need?

It may be starving children in a third world country or a home town food pantry, but Christmas is a great time to be very intentional about helping those who truly need help. After all, we are celebrating the birthday of Jesus, who said that when we give to the needy among us we effectively give to him.

Several years ago my six siblings and I agreed to change the way we give. Our annual gift exchange had become more of a burden than a blessing…one more item on an already packed “to do” list. One of us (I can’t remember who, but it wasn’t me) suggested that, instead of giving to each other, we all give to a charity. We immediately bought into this plan, agreeing to take turns naming the charity. This simple act has both simplified and enriched our Christmas giving experience. Our gift this year will go to a charity which will purchase a llama and some chicks to help a struggling third world family become more self sufficient.

Perhaps, this Christmas season would be a great time for your family to develop a plan to better bless those with real needs. Someone will need to speak up; maybe it should be you.

God initiated the spirit of giving by giving us his only son. It is no accident therefore, that the wonder of Christmas is found in the act of giving. Christmas 2010 will be rich with meaning as you become a better giver.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

FinanceDad December 23, 2009 at 11:57 am

Great article. To me, the best gift you could give a child is something they can use long down the road, when the toys have all been trashed. That would be an investment in their name, or a savings bond or similar. Keep up the good work, I’ll be checking back often.

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Joe Plemon December 23, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Finance Dad,
I agree…the investment will indeed still be around when the toys have been trashed. Starting a 529 or ESA college savings plan would also fit in that category.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

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