Christmas not about excessive buying, eating
The Head Pastor of the Sanctuary Assemblies of God, Gbawe in Accra, Rev Dr Ralph Adjaho has advised Christians not to be influenced by the over-commercialisation of Christmas to spend beyond their means.
He said over the years, Christmas had become the most celebrated holiday season globally with businesses providing different products and services that enticed people to shop more, and even overspend during the period.
He said marketing strategies like discounts, freebies, shopping vouchers, among others, were all designed to entice people to spend.
Rev. Dr Adjaho, who spoke to The Mirror in an interview, explained that many Christians had moved away from thanking God for his gift to mankind, which was the essence of the season, to rather engage in excessive spending, drinking and partying.
“The importance of Christmas is to promote righteousness, peace and joy as the Bible teaches. There is nothing wrong with having celebrations during the season, however, they must be done in moderation and most importantly within a person’s means. It is a time when families can hold small gatherings, thank God for a successful year and make amends for wrongdoings.
“ Many people spend all their savings during the festivities and start borrowing soon afterwards. Some even borrow to celebrate and show off and take years to settle the debts,” he said.
Rev. Dr Adjaho said rather than showing off wealth, Christians must reach out to the needy in society and support them during the season.
He said in the past, certain delicacies such as fried rice and chicken were reserved for festivities but today they had become staple foods in many homes.
“These days, we eat rice meals often and chicken and meat are common so there is no need to buy and eat in excess just because it is Christmas,” he said.
Celebrating Jesus’ birthday
Rev. Dr Adjaho said over the years, he had realised that Christians spent a lot during the season with the explanation that it was Jesus’ birthday so they must go all out.
He explained that the season was about love and not showing off. “No matter how little you have, you can make a difference by sharing or inviting a less privileged person to share in your blessings. When we share, children and young people around us also learn the importance of giving, which is a true characteristic of a Christian,” he said.
He added that since it was a Christian celebration, it was the responsibility of Christians to set good examples with how they spend and celebrate.
Rev. Dr Adjaho encouraged Christians to adopt a habit of saving and investing for themselves and their families as part of their resolutions for the New Year and beyond.
He added that this year had been challenging for most Ghanaians. According to him, the coming year would be no different so saving and living within one’s budget was one of the ways to reduce the effects of the economic hardships.
He also advised parents to remember that soon after the holidays, there would be the new school year which would come with a lot of financial demands.
“When we consider Bible prophecies, the truth is the years ahead will be difficult. The enemy is going to raise people who will tell lies in the name of God to mislead people and rip people off their hard-earned money. My advice is that Christians must stay committed to Christ, seek the wisdom of God and also make prayer part of our lives so that we are not deceived by the world,” he concluded.
Sticking to budgets
A Chartered Accountant and Investment Coach, Ms Jennifer Achaa Osei, said a budget must be set according to a person’s current income and any potential income that could be estimated with certainty.
She admitted that sticking to budgets could be difficult but for financial stability, people must be disciplined and stay conscious enough to live within their means without pressure or comparison to the lives of others whose incomes might be higher with fewer responsibilities.
Ms Jennifer Achaa Osei
She explained that during festive seasons, most people are unable to cut down expenses as celebrations usually come with a lot of costs; however, it would be best to allocate a specific amount to the season and spend it in proportion to the days with activities.
“For example, if you budget GH₵3,000 for the whole of December and spend it on the first day, then you make sure you stay home and spend nothing else. It will be wise to split that GH₵3000 to ensure it covers all the days of the festive season,” he explained.
On building a good saving habit for the New Year, she said, “Start wherever you are. The most important thing is to build consciousness around saving to ensure that on a day when you cannot earn active income you can earn passive income from the investments you have made with your savings. It's all about consciousness and discipline.”
For people with no knowledge of how to save or invest, Ms Osei, who is also a financial consultant who offers financial literacy lessons for adults and children, business and finance advisory with PwC Ghana and mentorship and career coaching, advised that they sought advice from experts.