C hris Brown  works with Dave Ramsey helping spread the principles of financial peace and stewardship over the lives God has entrusted to us. Chris knows the financial pressure Christmas brings, and how it’s difficult to practice good stewardship as we feel the need to buy, buy, buy. What we’re really buying is the lie that the only way to show people that we love them is to buy tons of presents for them.

Clever marketing campaigns offer material goods and short-term satisfaction—a happy heart, the joy of giving, and the satisfaction of receiving. But what it really leaves us with is long-term financial effects. Year after year, we continue the cycle: work, work, work, crazy spending, soul-crushing guilt of overindulgence, and New Year’s resolutions to make it better, then back to work, work, work…

So to keep you from the guilt and the aftermath, here are Chris Brown’s six practical tips for healthy stewardship this Christmas:

  1. Have grace for yourself. “If we believe in a grace that affects eternity, why not a grace for stewardship?” Chris rightfully points out. Quit condemning yourself for not planning ahead or not getting everyone you love the “perfect Christmas present.” Condemnation is not what God has for those who love Him.
  2. Show gratitude—the action of thankfulness. Action is behind the spirit of gratitude. It requires giving of yourself, but it doesn’t necessarily mean financial giving. Send a thank you card. Make some cookies. Pay it forward and let them know that you did so because of them. Take time to always lift up those who give in thankfulness and appreciation. Intentionally build someone up.
  3. Demonstrate meaningful love to others. Care enough to know how to love well. Know which way your friend will experience the satisfaction of receiving in ways that will last a lifetime. Chris highly recommends reading the book The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. For Chris, words of affirmation go a long way with him and leave his heart full.
  4. Start early. Saving all your shopping until Black Friday or Christmas Eve can end in you to making purchases that cost you way more than you’re saving. For the impact of a thoughtful gift, start early. Chris and his wife buy all throughout the year for the people they love using discount sales, coupons, and special deals. In the end, it may actually be something the other person will really cherish.
  5. Gift your time all year long. Chris believes we likely overdo it financially because we tend to not steward our relationships well. We let guilt be the driving factor and make financial decisions to compensate for not giving throughout the year. Christmas ends up being “all of the five love languages on steroids making up for eleven months of neglect.”
  6. Start fresh. For the New Year, by all means, sign up for Financial Peace University and make some lasting changes in the stewardship of your life. You won’t regret it.

Find out more about Chris’s speaking ministry and how you can stay out of debt all year long at www.daveramsey.com.