You likely saw all the ads rearing their ugly little heads by the beginning of the month.
Oh, it come-eth. And there are likely folks all over this great land of ours that are ready-ing their credit cards for a spending frenzy so epic that it will make headlines.
In fact, well...it already has.
According to the National Retail Federation (which makes me think of men with machine guns forcing you to shop)...Shoppers are expected to spend around $680 billion this holiday shopping season, a 15-year high. Let that number sink in. $680 BILLION.
All the while....we sit back and lament our country's inability to afford healthcare, quality education for our kids, and retirement. Things that MATTER. I read recently that the average American has less than $1000 saved.
But we are gonna shop.
$680. Friggin. BILLION.
But Pudgy, you say....are you not a complete hypocrite who buys holiday gifts for your family and seeks out good prices for such gifts?
Yes. I do.
I don't participate in Black Friday sales.....mostly because crowds of that magnitude make me want to hurl.
I will probably hop on the ole computer for a few Cyber Monday deals on things I was already going to purchase anyway.
I'm not saying don't shop.
I'm saying CHECK YOURSELF if financial fitness is a goal.
Here's a few tips for Black Friday that will help you stay financially fit, maybe prepare for next year (because lets face it, this year is already here), and avoid the pressure to spend yourselves into the red.
1. Avoid Black Friday All Together
Let's face it, most of us have gifts to buy. I'm not completely ignorant of this. But, getting wrapped up in the "I'm gonna pitch a tent outside of Best Buy in order to score a slightly less expensive TV that I don't need" insanity is a sure-fire way to blow your Christmas budget out of the water. You don't need to give into the pressure to shop on Black Friday. You can plan your holiday spending out a bit better than that. Remember, EVERYTHING is 100% off if you DON'T BUY IT.
If you must venture out, BE PREPARED. Be OVER prepared. Make a list and stick to that dang list. Use cash only. When the cash is gone you are done. Have a budget. Stick to it. Bring an accountability partner, not your best friend who likes to shop like it's her job or something.
2. Give Experiences Not Things
People have enough shit. Repeat that. People have enough shit. They don't NEED another doo-dad, fiddlestick, snarfblat or dinglehopper. The amount of things I purged when we moved was astounding....and one look at our storage facility proves I have more work to do.
So what can you GIVE this year without adding to the hoarding tendencies of human beings?
Dinners out at a restaurant your mom has wanted to try. Theater shows. Hell...skydiving. I don't care. Trust me, the EXPERIENCE will last far longer than the thing.
3. CHRISTMAS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY
This is one to put on your calendar for next year. Maybe in JUNE. Christmas, my friends, is not an emergency. I stole this from Dave Ramsey. What this means is....we KNOW it's coming. It's the same dang day every year. It's not moving. So, we know January 1, 2018 that on December 25, 2018 we will have Christmas. So, you need a sinking fund for this. You need to cash flow Christmas. That way, when the cash is done....you're done. It's not time to bust out the plastic so you're still paying for Christmas 2017 when Christmas 2025 rolls around.
So, January 1, 2018, make an envelope for your Christmas Fund and allocate dollars for that envelope in your budget. Then, when the holiday season rolls around, you'll be all set. Credit cards will be a distant memory.
4. Try to Get the Fam on Board
This is a tough one. Like, for instance, my Mom loves to buy Christmas gifts. I'm pretty sure Black Friday shopping is her love language or something. So, convincing my family to go gift-free would be a hard row to hoe. For sure. Convincing them to pare it down may be easier. But, maybe, if you've all reached adulthood and the "Magic of Christmas" has turned more into a present-buying one-upping frenzy, you may want to have a "Come to Jesus' Birthday" moment with everyone and see if you can trade gift-giving for more fun family time.
This is part of that "experience" thing. Experience family time.....less stuff.
5. Say it With Me: "It's Okay if I Miss the Sale"
Now, this is a tough one. My day job is as a service provider (that service being portraits and wedding photography). So, of course, I run a Cyber Monday sale for my clients every year. And, of course, I would love for them to take advantage of that sale. Sales and service giving is what puts food on my table and a roof over my kids' head. I'm not saying DON'T EVER BUY THINGS. That's ridiculous. And some of the sales going on this weekend are amaze-balls. Yes. What I'm saying is, we need to have a bit of self-control when it comes to resisting the pull of "ACT NOW BEFORE EVERYTHING IS GONE AND YOU ARE LEFT BEREFT AND GIFTLESS YOU NON-SHOPPING LOSER". Ok, that's a bit harsh, perhaps....but retailers prey on our anxiety over false scarcity. If you don't battle the crowd for that "thing" on Black Friday, you won't get it.
Let me be honest with you here.....they'll live. Your kids will live. Your spouse will live. YOU WILL LIVE without the thing.
My daughter this year wants a Fingerling. It's this little monkey thing that clings on to your finger. I'm pretty sure that's all it does. Not sure. But she wants it. It's at the top of her list. So, I've looked for them online.....Lord knows I don't really go to stores much but I'm assuming they're sold out at this point.
If I find one, great. If I don't.....they're experiencing Walt Disney World this year for Christmas and if the finger-monkey isn't under the tree on Christmas Day, my kid WILL LIVE. I promise you. I won't need to start saving for therapy because I was unable to punch another mom out for a finger-monkey.
We need to get our collective acts together and simplify. I need to take this to heart as much as anyone.
So maybe this year....just stay home on Friday. Cuddle up with your kiddos, watch a movie, eat some leftovers. Don't WORRY about what you may be missing at the stores. What's more important is what we may be missing elsewhere while we are worried about the stores.
Image Courtesy of My New Official Graphic Artist Betty Reseburg (Age 10)