Don't Waste the Last Few Weeks of the Year
The last few weeks of the year are a matter of survival for many. Even though schools are off, workloads are often decreased, and days off increase, the calendar still seems full. There are so many places to go, people to see, and things to do. If we are not careful, the calendar begins to control us instead of us controlling the calendar.
Let me encourage you not to let these last few weeks of the year be a matter of survival. Instead, control your calendar so you can take some important steps that will help launch into the new year. Here are a few ways to not waste the last few weeks of the year:
1. Be present for the holidays.
First, set aside time to celebrate the birth of Christ. Go through a Christmas devotional. Read the Christmas story in Luke 2. Attend your church’s Christmas services and celebrate with your church family. Second, have focused time with the family. Throw the football with the kids. Watch a Christmas movie. Share some stories. Go sledding. Or if you are in Florida, go swimming. Be physically and mentally present for the holidays.
2. Review the 8 Money Milestones.
Before you jump into the next year, know where you stand financially. This starts with reviewing the 8 Money Milestones. Identify which Milestone you are currently chasing or which one you need to pursue. If you are married, discuss the Milestones with your spouse.
3. Do your Financial State of the Union
The Financial State of the Union helps you understand your current financial reality. It consists of six parts:
1. Review your generosity. Calculate for the year.
2. Review your cash.
3. Review your debt.
4. Review your retirement.
5. Review your net worth.
6. Review your goals. What were your goals this year? How did you do?
Again, if you married, this can be a great tool to help you both get on the same financial page.
4. Put together a Blueprint for Mission.
Some call it a “budget.” Some call it a “spending plan.” As Christians, we are to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are to be about getting the gospel to our community and the nations. Your Blueprint for Mission is your monthly financial plan that helps you better accomplish that mission. It is the ultimate stewardship tool. As you create your blueprint, I encourage you to take the zero-based budget approach. This means that every dollar has a responsibility. Your income minus your expenses should equal zero.
5. Identify savings goals and set up sinking funds.
Identity your larger, short-term savings goals. Are you going on a vacation? Do you need to buy a car in a few years? If so, set up sinking funds for those expenditures. Divide the amount you will eventually need by the number of months left until you plan to use the funds. The resulting number is the amount you should set aside every month for your savings goal.
6. Read a book.
I know, this one seems to come out of nowhere. But here’s the deal—reading is good for you. Reading exercises your brain, improves your memory, increases your focus, reduces your stress (and you need that during the holidays), and provides many other benefits. Plus, I’ve never regretted taking time to read a book. So, set aside thirty minutes every day, and read a book.
Be intentional over these next few weeks. At the risk of sounding cliché, don’t just survive—thrive. God has given you these days. Leverage them for His glory.