The Best Gifts Are Free

“‘Tis the season to be jolly.”

And as founder of Compass – finances God’s way, Howard Dayton, shared recently, it’s also become the season to spend—a lot more than we’re used to, at that. (Read his article here, if you missed it:

With only six days left until Christmas, many of us are preparing for family get-togethers, and then New Year’s Day celebrations. And it can all be very exciting. But it can also be a stressful, overwhelming and expensive time of year…

Everywhere you turn, there’s some kind of advertisement showcasing a deal or savings on TVs, grills, cookware, smartphones… you name it. But if I fail to make anything else clear today, I want to reiterate what Howard recommended for having a debt-free Christmas and make this very clear: If you can’t afford it, don’t fall into this trap.

Now, in one of my recent blogs (read it here:, I shared that the past few months have been full of shifts in priorities and plans for my family. But after listening to a sermon at church, the Holy Spirit prompted me to plan on giving more to others this season instead of saving more for our household. We’re not going into debt to do it, though…

According to, in a 2021 survey, 41% of us said we are willing to go into debt for our holiday shopping…

Do you really think the people you love—and the people who love you— would want to hear you say you’re going into debt to get them gifts? I don’t think so.

Generosity is so much more than buying tangible things for the people you love. A lot of meaningful things can’t be wrapped. So, don’t stress yourself out trying to spend money on gifts you don’t think you can afford. 

Maybe you have other options…

  1. You could ask your family if they’d like to try a Secret Santa gift exchange this year, where each of you pick one person to get a gift for. That way, everyone gets something… but without breaking the bank.
  1. You could make something for the people on your list. 

A pie, a home-cooked meal, a handmade craft. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Howard mentioned this in his last article, too.

  1. You could look for deals. 

If you have names on your list that you must get something for, like kids, for example, instead of buying an item at the first place you go to, shop around. Search for it online. 

I have an extension on my browser called Capital One Shopping. When I buy something online, right before checkout, it’ll automatically run promo codes to check if I’m getting the best deal. The last time I used it, $20 was slashed from the original price. There are plenty other programs like this: Honey, Rakuten, RetailMeNot, etc.

But one last thing: We all know this is the season of giving (and yes, spending on stuff). But if you can’t afford to buy gifts this year, here’s another option: 

  1. Talk to your loved ones and just be honest. 

If they don’t understand, that’s on them.

Don’t forget about the things that are way more important than anything we unwrap…

Family, quality time, friendships, kindness and love (Colossians 3:12), and last but certainly not least, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:6; John 1:14). These are all gifts… and a good reminder that the best things in life are free.

With gratitude,

Melody Stampley

Managing Editor


Melody is the founder of financial coaching business Centsible Finance LLC, which publishes the free e-letter Making Cents. She earned a bachelor’s in public relations from the University of Florida in 2014, and a master’s in global strategic communications from Florida International University in 2017; but she discovered her passion in personal finance and writing, as well as a closer relationship with the Lord, after joining a Compass – finances God’s way study in 2020. She now serves as a volunteer on the Compass Florida board, is the editor for the Compass blog, and a facilitator and trainer for financial discipleship studies. Melody and her husband, Nate, live in South Florida.

2 thoughts on “The Best Gifts Are Free

  1. Very wise counsel. Thank you for your investment of time and energy in bringing these Biblical and practical principles to us. Love this ministry. And appreciate those like you who are carrying it out.

    1. We are so thankful God is using this ministry the way He is. Thank you for reading, Travis. May God bless you and your family in 2023.

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