Most people in the business world are trained to know the difference between a good deal and a bad one. Wisdom that governs commercial transactions is rooted in the phrase “let the buyer beware.” In Latin, caveat emptor.
Along with “customers make pay-days possible”, caveat emptor reigns supreme in the memory of anyone conducting business with the intention to stay in business. While these ancient rules guide those in the business world, they’re also applicable to the savvy home-maker. Particularly at a time of traditional giving and thanksgiving, such as the Christmas season.
Caveat emptor implies freedom in limitation. In an economic sense, it encourages a self-disciplined approach to getting the best possible outcome for the money spent. Caveat emptor is tough self-love. It helps us to remember that individuals are responsible for what they choose to buy and how they choose to buy it.
Let the buyer beware informs all and any cost to benefit analysis. Knowing when to say yes to something and when to say no. Knowing when something is worth buying and when something isn’t. Knowing when to look past a polished exterior and the smoke and mirrors of marketeers. Knowing when to stock up and make the most of the deal and when to hold back.
In short, working hard to be well-informed and practising discernment are hard to beat. Researching what you want to buy, where you should buy it, and taking time to consider how you should buy it, usually pays well at the end of the day.
Using the pseudonym, John Ploughman, 19th Century author, and preacher, Charles Spurgeon, well-known for his sharp wit and no-nonsense commentary on Victorian era British life, compiled a list of useful advice that comfortably fits in well with the caveat emptor rule.
In an essay called Hints as to Thriving, Spurgeon gives his thoughts on managing finances. So I’ve made a list and I’ve checked it twice. Here are ten ways you can bring out your inner savvy Christmas shopper, during the Christmas shopping season:
1. Believe in travelling on step by step; don’t expect to be rich in a jump. Slow and sure is better than fast and flimsy.
2. [Remember], better a little furniture than an empty house. From bad to worse is no improvement. Don’t jump out of the frying pan into the fire. A small fire that warms you is better than a large fire that burns you.
3. Don’t burst a bag by trying to fill it too full, and ruin yourself at too much. In a great river fish are found, but take good heed lest you be drown’d.
4. Keep your weather eye open. Sleeping poultry are carried off by the fox. Who watches not catches not.
5. Never ruin your soul for the sake of money: it is like drowning yourself in a well to get a drink of water. Better walk barefoot than ride in a carriage to hell.
6. [Check product or store reviews & look for the honest salesperson]. A good article, full weight, and a fair price bring customers to the shop, but people do not recommend the shop where they are cheated.
7. Look most to your spending. No matter what comes in, if more goes out you will always be poor. The art is not making money, but keeping it.
8. [Remember], that a fool may make money, but it takes a wise man to spend it.
9. Never indulge in extravagances unless you want to make a short cut to the poorhouse. Money has wings of its own.
10. Earn all you can, save all you can, and then give all you can. Giving is true having.
John Ploughman wishes all young beginners long life and prosperity. Sufficient of wealth, and abundant health, long years of content, and when life is spent, a mansion with God in glory.
(Spurgeon, CFP 2007:119)
As you look to buy gifts for loved ones, keep in mind that one of the best birthday presents you can give Jesus Christ, is the gift you give to those who most need it. For by doing so, you have done so unto Him.
For anyone who might be stumped on how to give to those in need, along with the normal gifting of presents and food for the great December day ahead called Christmas. Here are five trusted organisations that you can donate through:
Open Doors Australia, Gifts of Hope
Spurgeon, C.H. 2007 Hints as to Thriving in The Complete John Ploughman, Christian Focus Publications
Image: 19th Century photo of Charles Spurgeon. The modern artist who photoshopped in the Santa hat is unknown. Sourced from The Confessing Baptist