Have you made a list and checked it twice? Chances are, you haven’t…
The National Retail Federation estimates that consumers’ will spend upwards of $730 billion this holiday season. Perhaps this is due to a well performing stock market, low unemployment and wage increases. Each of which has helped put extra cash in consumer pockets.
Though, this time of year there is one question that every consumer must answer for themselves - Are you going to allow Santa to slide down the chimney and raid your bank account
Amid the many distractions that occupy your attention throughout the holiday season, lays a decision that you must make. Will you try to keep up with your friends? How about your kids friends parents? Or, will you say no to Santa and spend modestly?
Whatever you decide for yourself and your family is the choice you must live with. It might be too late for some of you to light a fire to keep Santa from sliding into your bank account, but for those of you who are not quite done shopping or still haven’t hit the malls; slow down and take a minute to think through the true meaning of Christmas, what you want to spend, and what your financial situation allows you to spend.
Click through to a list of things to think about and focus on financially throughtout the Christmas season:
How do you treat the things in life that you value the most? Your family, health, faith, or finances? As I pondered this question recently, I decided that the question starts a bit higher in the order of things. We don’t change our behavior or impression about something or someone until we let it marinate around in our head.
The best Christmas gift I can offer you is a word of encouragement: your mind and the thoughts that permeate it have incredible power. Your thinking can change your future. Conversely, a sedentary mind leaves a wasted existence. This Christmas find some quiet time away from the noise that competes for your attention.
Invest in a solitary moment to reflect on the question above. What do you think are most important in your life? How much thought have you given to this list? What is the result of your thoughts and decisions this year? What choices can you exert control over and what differences can you expect to make if you change your thinking about the things you value most?
Superficially, this has nothing to do with money and yet everything to do with it. A significant investment in clear-headed thinking will produce more life change than any stock or bond investment. The Good Book states it this way in Romans 12:2, "Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." Stephen Covey called this exercise, “Begin with the end in mind.” I think it’s a good way to end the year too.
As I’m coming off the October 15th deadline, I’ve given a lot of thought to why so many of us procrastinate. The October 15th deadline is the extended due date for personal tax returns that were originally due April 15th, so at this point we are 9 ½ months into the next year. When the process is delayed and the deadline approaches, the unnecessary stress caused to tax preparers and clients is visible, but it is avoidable. This stress doesn’t even take into account the actual dollars it costs to file and pay your returns late with accumulated interest and penalties.
If we can’t find ways to not procrastinate when there are direct financial penalties from government agencies, how are we going to avoid procrastinating on important decisions and moves in our lives that have no deadlines?
One example I love to reference comes from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace class and highlights the negative long-term impact of procrastinating and starting to save later in the game rather than now. Dave’s example references, Jack, a person that starts early and invests $200 a month for 9 years and stops. Jack’s friend, Blake, doesn’t start investing until Jack has stopped. Since he waited, he decides to invest the same $200 a month, but he contributes $200 a month until retirement. Even though Blake invests for 38 years versus Jack’s 9 years, he has accumulated significantly less money than Jack at retirement. The power of time and compounding is too much to overcome.
If we know that we shouldn’t procrastinate, and most of us don’t mean to push off the inevitable to the last minute, how do we avoid it? One of my favorite authors and speakers, James Clear, has an article on the methods to avoid procrastination. Mr. Clear's book Atomic Habits has ideas that helped me put daily steps in place so that I accomplish important tasks on time.
Mr. Clear outlines four easy steps to help you avoid procrastination. Click through for his list