Because We Can: Bad Uses for Christmas Cash

Christmas Gift | sxc.hu

Have you ever done or bought something just because you could?

How did that work out for you?

Probably not very well, if my own personal experiences match your own. The words “because we can” are never used in this video, but I feel like they’re hanging in the air throughout the story.

Watch this:

[Video via CNN]

Why build an amazingly expensive blimp to chase down Bigfoot? “Because we can.” Have you ever said that when doing something foolish? I’ve said it more than a few times, especially when buying something that my common sense tells me is a waste of money.

The lead-up to Christmas is when many people make some of their most well-researched purchasing decisions. They check out reviews online, shop around at a few stores, and then buy the item at the best price possible, take it home, and wrap it up for the big day. After Christmas, however, when stores are flooded with returns, overstocked items that didn’t sell as projected, and a host of other seasonal and out-dated items that must be moved to make room for new merchandise, the majority of us make snap decisions, fall victim to impulse buys, and waste money on products because we can. We take whatever “Christmas cash” we might have received and blow it on cheaply priced products that wouldn’t have caught our eyes otherwise.

This can be a big problem for your church, especially if you find yourself with nice little Christmas-time budget surplus. Nothing will bring out the Grinch in a church board more than when someone has to explain why recent purchases of tech equipment proved to be ill-timed and poorly thought out. Here are some common end-of-the-year sales traps that you’ll definitely want to avoid if you’re trying to pick up a few thing tech-related items on your church’s post-Christmas list.

“As-Is” Items

There are few things worse in life than buying a product that doesn’t work or falls apart soon after purchase. Many companies (like Apple) have stringent policies regarding “refurbishing” returned items. Others just drop those products in a cart and then put them back on the shelves. Be aware that this cool do-dad or thing-a-ma-bob that you just have to have for your church might be damaged or slightly defective. Check the packaging. If it’s a mess, the item might be as well. Of course, light cosmetic damage or purchasing a display item could be a way of getting a decent bargain on a high-end tech item, but it will also likely mean that a warranty is out of the question.

“So Last Year” Items

Impulse buys are the worst kind of tech purchases to make. Unless you’re the foremost authority on a particular item and its market, I would recommend against it. What if the model you’re buying is about to be replaced? How much will you kick yourself if your brand new tech toy is “end of life” by March? Fight the impulse, and do some research. (You can probably do a lot of research right there in the store if you’re armed with a smart phone.)

Almost “Priced to Sell” Items

Don’t let stores fool you: they rarely have the lowest price. It’s not impossible, especially if shipping is a factor, but free shipping isn’t hard to come by these days. In fact, some stores offer free shipping to their “brick and mortar store” when you purchase items on their website. So, again, a little research can save your some heart ache and maybe a few dollars.

Don’t buy anything “because you can” or “because it’s there.” Just because your church has some extra cash doesn’t mean that it has to spend it. Why not save it? Or pay down some debt? Or give it away?

Most of you church techs are great stewards of church money; don’t let some seemingly low prices and flashy gadgets wreck that habit of wise purchasing, ok? You won’t buy a blimp to catch Bigfoot, I’m sure, but don’t buy a drone to monitor your children’s church either.

Phil Schneider

I'm a teacher and discipleship pastor. I'm also a husband to the greatest woman in the world and a father to a ridiculously cute daughter. I also occasionally scratch out a few blog posts. You can buy my first book, My Evil Rhyme Schemes, here.

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