By Joshua Mudse, CFP
The weeks that encompass the celebration of Christmas are filled with family and friends, a time of sharing, a time for reflection on the year behind and an opportunity to prepare for the year ahead. The meaning of Christmas is important to our spiritual lives, and the full story of Christmas also provides us with important insight that we can apply to our financial lives.
1. Acknowledge That There is a Problem
While we think of Christmas as a season of light, the truth is that the birth of Jesus Christ came at a time filled with darkness. When Christ was born, the word of God had not been heard for centuries. Approximately 400 years passed between Malachi and John the Baptist. Without the word of God present among them, the people walked in spiritual darkness.
For many of us, we have turned a blind eye to our financial lives. In the day-to-day struggles of work and family, it is easy to put off an honest assessment of our financial situation. Credit card debt piles up. Insurance premiums are missed. Checking accounts are overdrawn. As small items get ignored, we fall deeper into financial darkness, feeling overwhelmed with the thought of doing anything to make things better. The first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem.
God knew that left to our own understanding and efforts, the separation from Him would continue to grow. He acknowledged the problem. Fortunately, he was also willing to take action for a solution.
2. Do the Hard Things
Awareness and acceptance of the problem is the first step to improving our financial life. Once we have identified the solutions, the next major challenge is changing our behavior and decision making to align with our desired outcomes. This will often require foregoing immediate gratification, making small decisions now that will greatly impact our longer term future.
Some of these decisions are easier than others. Getting better at planning meals to cook at home instead of eating out, and making coffee at home instead of stopping for an expensive latte on the way to work are small changes to our weekly routines. Postponing the purchase of a new car, selling assets like boats and motorcycles, and downsizing the size of our housing require a willingness to sacrifice the now for the reality of financial freedom.
There is no better example of sacrifice than the gift of Jesus. God so loved His people that he was willing to sacrifice his only son to provide a path through the darkness back to Him.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:19-20 NIV
3. Be Hopeful
Whenever we start on a behavior change, it is easy to get discouraged in the early stages. Progress to long term goals is hard to see on a daily basis, yet the small decisions and sacrifices are felt immediately. Having an attitude of Hope helps to keep our focus on making good financial decisions, while having grace towards ourselves when we don’t.
The birth of the Christ Jesus is the ultimate story of Hope, a confident expectancy of a future that is better than today. Christmas can be a season of love, of forgiveness, of generosity and new beginnings. Possibly the most famous (and memorized) scripture provides the foundation for this certain future:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Munn Wealth Management.