Decisions, decisions, decisions

By Dexter Hall

This time of year always brings about a multiplicity of decisions. Which decisions? Spending Decisions, of course.

As I looked around my neighborhood, I realized my neighbors and I had all begun to decorate our homes for the holidays – Christmas holidays. Now, this may not seem like news except it was the first week of November, a full four weeks earlier than we normally would have done. In talking with a few of them, I surmised that we were all in a rush to change our thoughts and create a more festive mood this year more than ever. We were all anxious to not allow the 2020 pandemic to steal our joy of family and friendships.

You may be asking what does this have to do with financial security, Dexter? Well, after we put out our decorations, I went to the mailbox and received seven offers of credit, and one company even sent me a check for $5,000 for the holidays.

Jim Collins wrote about the “Culture of Discipline” in his book Good to Great. He describes how disciplined people are capable of great achievements. They have the gift of disciplined thinking and undertaking actions that lead to a well-defined final goal. The key word is discipline.

In 2019, among those who bought Christmas gifts, 56.3% set a budget. Of those, however, only 64% followed it. The average spending among people who bought Christmas gifts and budgeted in 2019 was $878. But among those who bought gifts and didn’t budget, the average amount spent was $992. Disciplined planning makes a difference and ensures that December’s jolly doesn’t turn into January’s folly.

As you celebrate the holidays, I offer the following tips and reminders:

  1. Create a holiday budget and stick with it.

  2. Plan your gift buying for each person in your family.

  3. Get creative with gift ideas – be more thoughtful vs. expensive.

  4. Cards vs. Gifts – a thoughtful message in a card can go a long way during these times.

Lastly, remember our local small business owners when purchasing. If you’re looking for a way to give back to our community and ensure we all continue to thrive economically – shop with local small business owners on purpose.

This year more than ever, we need the holidays to breathe fresh wind into us all. It’s the wind of our faith, family, and friends. Celebrate each other in creative ways without shattering your holiday budget.

Happy Holidays and may your January be even more enjoyable because you stuck to your budget.

Looking forward to 2021 as we work together to ensure the financial security of all Wacoans.

Dexter Hall is Prosper Waco’s chief of staff and senior content specialist for financial security.