Updated: Feb 28
"Be anxious for nothing; but in all things by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving make your request known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
24/7 news, phone calls from creditors, emails tempting you to purchase for whatever holiday - Your heart races, your palms begin to sweat, your thoughts search for answers, options, possibilities and help from any angle.
Many are dealing with stress today. Stress which is a response to pressure or threat has emotional and physical responses. These include a feeling of nervous tension, being on edge as well as the possibility of an adrenaline rush that may temporarily affect the nervous system. Stress should not be a way of life! It should not be a normal issue yet today too many are overburdened with financial woes, relationship dynamics, extra family responsibilities and so much more. Yet the Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing. So how do we do this?
First, we must refocus our perspective. God is in control! (Philippians 4:5). God has all knowledge, all ability and is able to meet our every need. When you consider, He knew whatever we are going through would occur and He has already given us answers in His word; all we must do is trust Him and be obedient. Sounds simple yet applying it may be a struggle.
One of my sayings is, "I don't do drama". I don't do stress. I, like others would prefer to have everything running smoothly. But life happens! Oftentimes we don't plan the extra, the drama, the hassle nor the frustration. And usually it doesn't fit nicely into our Google calendar. When these issues arise it can create stress. Notice I said it CAN create stress but it doesn't have to. I recently realized that I, from time to time, have been anxious as it relates to money. Now this can show up for various reasons: debt collectors calling; money mismanagement; lack of planning; holidays on the horizon,etc. My wake up call had to do with thinking that contractors were taking advantage of me and I was spending too much on a project and I couldn't figure out a less expensive option. The constant revolving around in the mind of different scenarios leads to anxiousness. So I thought I was exempt because I don't worry yet I find that I can fall into anxious thinking.
So what is the answer: TRUST God! For the finances: get a spending plan (i.e. budget); create a debt reduction plan; set goals for your present and future financial health; and then work the plan. The Bible has much to say about counting the cost before you begin. If it's on paper then it doesn't have to revolve in your mind. Put anxiety to rest by having an understanding of where you are and what you have. If it's debtors that are calling... there are rules and guidelines for that. Ultimately, pay off your debts and don't create new ones. Immediately have a plan for the current payments and the way of reducing your spending to add additional amounts to the debt. There are many ways to do this so find one that works for you.
Holiday Help: Know what you have to spend and decide ahead of time what you will spend. Here's the key - YOU DON'T HAVE TO!! It is not a requirement to buy something for everyone. You probably have been giving all year long to some on your list. Check your list and check it twice. Eliminate the ones that aren't necessary and you only added to keep up with the Jones', or to look good. Stop trying to buy friendship and favor. Trust that the people God wants in your life are there. If you release yourself from the bondage of buying for 25-100 people you can breathe a sigh of relief. When your list is downsized then your bills will be too. Here is another help: You aren't required to buy something. What about serving with a group instead. What about making a gift. Really learn to listen and hear what the individuals on your list really would like. You may be surprised that a movie will suffice or a day out for lunch. Refocus on the fact that Christmas celebrates Christ! What gift are you giving to Him?
So now that your list is lower and your mindset has changed, how then to get a deal on the list that I now have? Rakuten (Ebates) will allow you to get rebates on what you do spend. Do this anyway so that in January you'll have something to pay back on those purchases. If you use credit cards check for rewards and deals for using your card. This may allow for discounts off purchases, 2 for 1, etc. If you like giving gift cards then check for specials that they run during the holidays. You may end up getting a gift without cost (i.e. by $50 get $25 free, etc.). Use apps like Retailmenot, Groupon and others that discount costs. The bottom line is to know before you go and use every reward and discount available. Armed with these tools, you are ready for the holiday. One word of warning: Don't spend what you don't have!