We’re celebrating Thanksgiving at our house with friends and family this year. I want it to be extra special. However, the cost for groceries and things I need to host a fairly large group is more than I anticipated. How do I get around this crazy inflation?
Dear Inflation Shock,
I certainly understand your desire to make Thanksgiving special. When our family gathers this year, we will have a full house! Some will be sleeping on blow-up mattresses and couches. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate so we can hike and play outside; either way, we will stay up late playing board games, laughing, singing, and eating more than we need. I just hope the grandchildren don’t ask me to set up the tent and sleep outside!
Neither you nor I can change the fact that inflation is going to be a challenge this year; but I can offer my tips and ideas to help you with the shock of the expense of the holiday season.
Investing in experiences is priceless
Gathering friends and family in today’s world is a challenge. We desire to express our love, give thanks, and encourage one another. Multiple research studies confirm that experiences have a more lasting impact on the receiver than tangible items and remembering this helps me overcome the high cost of hosting. In other words, what you do together on a great holiday will be far more memorable and impactful than what you spend on things.
Avoid letting the world tell you how the holiday celebration needs to be done. If you compare yourself to celebrity hosts and hostesses, you will respond emotionally — either with pride or discouragement. Both are hazardous to your spiritual, emotional, and financial health.
How to avoid overspending
Do not allow the expectations of others to motivate your financial decisions. The Apostle Paul said, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 ESV).
Recognize that companies market to the emotions of shoppers. Social media affects us, too. Using money to impress others will not work long-term. It actually does the opposite. Overspending creates more stress than making sacrifices to stay within your budget. “Be not conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Romans 12:2a ESV).
Ask yourself these questions to stay on budget during the holidays:
- Why buy things I don’t truly need? Learn to differentiate between needs and wants. Do not compare your circumstances to others.
- Why panic and spend more than necessary? Plan ahead, and shop wisely. Think about setting an example of frugality for others.
- Who says I have to buy new?Need serving pieces or holiday décor? Find deals at thrift stores, garage sales, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. Consider borrowing what you need. Most friends and family members will be happy to help if they can. Many times, Fall items go on sale long before Thanksgiving. Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier for retailers.
- Have I asked God to help? If we get ahead of the Lord, we miss His blessings. Instead, pray, and watch Him work. Often, He will provide far more than we can imagine.
- Have I given thanks? When we fail to consider all we have, we lose contentment and think we need more.
The Apostle Paul instructed the Colossians to give thanks three times in just three verses! (Emphasis mine)
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:15-17 ESV).
Gratitude is vital to our health. Take time to read Ephesians 1. Make a list of all that God has given you in these verses and review it daily with thanksgiving until your guests arrive. It will keep you eternally focused.
Prepare for more inflation
A lifestyle of consistently spending less than you earn will accelerate financial wellbeing. It grants stability and allows you to focus on true priorities. Making short-term sacrifices now will enable you to achieve long-term goals. Your stress will lessen as you gain margin, and you will be more grateful for all that God provides.
Life is short, so enjoy the holiday season filled with the peace of God. “… do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).
Crown was awarded the Shining Light Award by Ministry Watch in 2020 for its global impact of multiplying faithful stewards. Crown.org has several courses that you may find of value in helping you prepare financially for our current economic challenges and for the future.
Chuck Bentley is CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, a global Christian ministry, founded by the late Larry Burkett. He is the host of a daily radio broadcast, My MoneyLife, featured on more than 1,000 Christian Music and Talk stations in the U.S., and author of his most recent book, Seven Gray Swans: Trends that Threaten Our Financial Future. Be sure to follow Crown on Facebook.