Understandably, most people’s minds are on the holiday season. Presents need to be purchased, parties need to be attended, and trips to see family need to be taken. It is a busy time of year. “Let’s connect after the new year,” is now the go-to response when a meeting is requested.
December can feel rushed. Unfortunately, this rush often causes individuals and couples to miss out on some important money moves they should consider. What are those money moves for December?
1. Slow down.
Okay, this is not necessarily a money move. However, consider your current pace and the motivation behind the pace. Is it for the Savior or for the self? Don’t get too caught up in the rush and forget why we celebrate—"Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord (Luke 2:7, NIV). Slow down, and consider the birth of Jesus. Consider the gift that was given, and praise God for Him.
2. Avoid overspending.
Many will go into debt this holiday season. They will spend more on presents, parties, and travel than they can afford. They create a budget or set a spending limit. Emotions drove their decisions. And they will pay for Christmas 2022 well into 2023.
Avoid overspending this month. Set a spending limit and stick with it. If you are low on cash, celebrate the birth of Jesus with time, not presents. Spend time with those you love. Fond Christmas memories are never tied to material gifts; they are tied to time. Don’t let Christmas spending lead to Christmas debt and future regret.
Don’t let Christmas spending lead to Christmas debt and future regret.
3. Spend all your FSA money.
Some employers offer Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA). An employee or employer can place pre-tax dollars into the FSA, and the employer is able to use the money medical purposes. But here’s the catch with an FSA—generally, any unused money goes back to the employer after the FSA’s annual deadline.
While most FSA deadlines are December 31, some employers do allow employees to carry over a portion of the money or have an extended grace period. It is wise to check with your employer to fully understand how your FSA works. If you have a use-it-or-lose-it deadline of December 31, make sure to spend all the money. Get a list of approved expenses from your employer and start shopping.
4. Don’t waste any year-end bonuses.
Use any year-end bonuses to take the next step on your financial journey. First, give a portion of the bonus to your local church. Then, consider the current Money Milestone you are chasing. Are you trying to pay off debt? Put the money toward debt. Do you need to build an emergency fund? Put it toward your emergency fund. If you receive a year-end bonus, do not miss the opportunity to better your financial health.
5. Don’t forget your year-end generosity.
There are several reasons why you should consider making a year-end gift to your church or favorite Kingdom-advancing non-profit. Do you sense God is prompting you to give a little more this month? Would an additional gift allow you to meet your annual generosity goal? Would additional generosity help your tax situation? Answering “yes” to any of these questions is a good reason to consider giving beyond your tithe this December. So, go ahead and give before the new year.