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I think gift cards are a bad idea for a Christmas present

Here are my top four reasons I don’t think unrequested gift cards are a good idea:  

#1 – Ever wonder why you see racks of gift cards at every grocery store and retail store?  Studies show that between 20 to 25% of those that receive them never use them.  In other words, the stores make a fortune knowing the cards are likely to go unused due to loss or forgetfulness.

#2. They are not the same as cash. If you get a $25 gift card and only spend $23 – you will have a balance of $2 on your card. These small, unused balances are likely to never get used.

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Holiday Havoc: Married to Ebenezer Scrooge, but I still love Christmas!

Originially posted on the Christian Post on December 9.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck,

My spouse and I are on the opposite sides of Christmas. He’s kind of an Ebenezer Scrooge, doesn’t want to spend any money and thinks most decorating is a waste of time and resources, but I love the excitement of the season, and gift giving is a way I like to show my affection. Every year, we end up having huge disagreements over how to celebrate the holiday. He is a Christian, and so we both share an appreciation of Christmas as a celebration of Jesus’ birth, but we are not on the same page at all on what that looks like … or how much money to spend. Can you help us?

Tired of Christmas Conflict

Dear Tired of Conflict,

If it makes you feel any better, you’re not the first person to ask me that question. Just because you and your husband share an appreciation of Christmas doesn’t mean that you naturally agree on how to mark this occasion (or other celebrations for that matter). My wife, Ann, and I have had to work through our own differences over the years as to how we prefer to mark this joyous occasion.

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Want to celebrate Christmas without blowing your hard-earned savings? Today, some tips for a Christmas without the financial stress.

First of all, protect yourself from advertising overload. Companies know how to play on our emotions to get us to purchase their products. Rather, pray for legacy-building ideas that don’t require money. Intentionally plan a stress-free holiday that allows you to focus on Christ, the best gift of all.

What do you have? Think about it! Time, talent, and training cannot be underestimated!

Give of your possessions. Pass down things that can be treasured by others. Take note of what your children or friends especially like in your home.

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Be on high alert for scams!

Unfortunately, this wonderful time of year is when scammers attempt to prey on shoppers.

The Better Business Bureau publishes a list of the Top 12 Scams of Christmas. Here are a few to keep in mind.

Fake charities: The holidays create a great opportunity for scammers to solicit donations to fill their own pockets. Beware of solicitations from charities that cannot deliver on their promises or pretend to be representing victims that do not really exist.

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HELP! I’m not Ready for the Holidays!

Originially posted on the Christian Post on November 25th.

To learn Biblical answers to your financial questions, you can #AskChuck @AskCrown your questions by clicking here. Questions used may be lightly edited for length or clarity.

Dear Chuck,

I cannot believe that it’s Thanksgiving week, and Christmas is coming in weeks. Most of the time, I feel more stressed than thankful at this time of year (unless you count how thankful I feel when it’s all over!). Have any advice about making Christmas more about Jesus’ birthday and less about a shop-til-you-drop time of year?!

Tis the Season for Stress

Dear Stressed,

Christmas is my favorite season of the year! It is the largest birthday celebration on Earth and appropriately so! Yet, we have tragically moved from worshiping a child lying in a borrowed manger that first Christmas Day to the modern extravaganza marked by frenzied shopping. Just this week my wife and I noticed a mammoth inflatable of Santa and his twelve reindeer on sale at the home improvement store. For only $299, this “yard decoration” could practically hide your entire house from view. Is there any end to these  needless expenses? I’ll step off my soapbox and get to your question...

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Black Friday Survival Guide - 10 Ways to Avoid Overspending on the Biggest Shopping Day of the Year

According to the Balance, 133.7 million Americans went shopping on Black Friday weekend in 2014 and spent a total of $50.9 billion. Stores count on bringing in at least 30% of their annual sales just between Thanksgiving and Christmas, making you the apple of thousands of marketer’s eyes.

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Happy Independence Day!

I hope you are enjoying the blessed gift of freedom right now.  

So many have fought and died for this priceless treasure of being free. You are likely doing whatever you chose to do to celebrate this holiday because others have given their lives for this privilege.  We should express our gratitude to them and also to God. 

In a very similar way, Jesus died to set us free. To free us from the law of sin and death which we could not achieve on our own.  He sacrificed His life to purchase our freedom, and ushered in the greatest news ever known to mankind. We do not have to fear the wages of our sin if we turn to Him, the author of freedom. 

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Can the IRS Help You Fund Your Christmas Budget?

Friday's Handwriting on the Wall posts will feature Chuck's new ChristianPost.com column, Ask Chuck. Chuck will be answering questions about what the the Bible has to say about money. Please share on #financialfridays and submit your own questions here. @AskCrown

Originally posted at Christian Post November 27, 2015.

Dear Chuck,

I’m worried about how to cover the costs of Christmas. I know I should have been saving through the year, and I have some money set aside but do you have some suggestions on how to get some resources together to have more money available over the holidays?

A Concerned Mother

 

Dear Concerned Mom,

You’re not the only one thinking through how to make the best of the holidays. In fact, more than 90 percent of Americans will celebrate Christmas or another holiday this season, and many of us feel pressure to appropriately provide gifts for those we love. According to a recent Gallup poll, people are planning to spend an average of $830 this year on Christmas gifts. In an ideal world, that would mean that most of us would have set aside  $75 a month to be ready to go at the end of November when a lot of sales begin.

It’s important to start your shopping list with a clear plan and budget that you develop, as retailers will work hard to convince you to do more than you initially were comfortable purchasing. Retailers make about 20 percent of their annual profits at this time of year, so be careful to buy purposefully and avoid the glitter and pressures of the season!

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