Are You Too Focused On Holiday Deals?
- Why I don't buy into consumerism during the holiday season, and you shouldn't either.
- How to focus on adding joy into the holiday season (hint: you don't complicate it with needless shopping).
- Learn why you should embrace the simplicity offered by online shopping.
I don't get the whole “Black Friday” thing…
It strikes me as the height of consumer insanity.
Truncating my holiday family gathering to rush out at a ridiculous hour in the morning so I can join frenzied crowds of other insane people battling to spend money they don't have on things they don't need makes no sense to me.
But hey, maybe I just don't “get it”.
I don't believe that's what the holidays are all about or what makes this a joyous season.
Below is my brief take on trying to keep sane with an affordable holiday and find some happiness in the process.
Get This Article Sent to Your Inbox as a PDF…
First Off – What Do You Stand For?
I've taken a stand…
The holidays are first and foremost about family gathering and spending time together. They're about experiences – not stuff.
If you asked me to pick between Christmas or Thanksgiving based on which one brings more joy for the effort, I'll tip my hat to Thanksgiving all the way. Why?
- I love the spirit of giving thanks as the root of the holiday. I love a celebration based on gratitude.
- I love the turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Yum!
- I love gathering the family in celebration for all that is good.
- I love that there's no consumer-oriented mental clutter – just giving thanks.
Christmas offers many of the same benefits, but is encumbered by consumerism through gift giving.
I've personally battled with this issue over the years, trying to find a reasonable solution that balances all the conflicting needs while honoring my values.
The following is as close as I've gotten to sorting it all out…
How To Shop Less And Enjoy More
My first rule for Christmas is to eliminate.
No, not the holiday, but anything that doesn't add joy to the holiday.
For example, both sides of my family agree Christmas is about family gathering and not consumerism. As a result, we've created a variety of gift giving guidelines:
- Gifts are for children only (through college graduation). Adults don't exchange gifts. It's too much cost and work, and none of us really need anything anyway.
- My wife purchases gifts throughout the year based on inspiration in finding something that speaks to that person and their unique interests. She then stores it until Christmas eliminating the rush “to find something”.
- All remaining shopping is based on lists so there's no emotional buying “because it's an insane deal” or whatever.
- Any and all shopping that can be done online is done online (see my note about Amazon below). This reduces time wasted battling crowds, eliminates emotional buying, eliminates the cost of gas, and reduces wear and tear on the cars. It's usually the lowest cost solution when everything is added in (even if the price isn't the lowest).
Besides controlling the gift giving frenzy, we also eliminate wherever possible in other areas of the holiday celebration.
For example, we always decorate the house to create a festive mood in the household, but the tree is variable depending on where the holiday will be celebrated.
Some years we get one and some years we eliminate this step. When we choose to have a Christmas tree, we've made it part of the holiday tradition by getting a cutting permit and hiking into the mountains nearby to cut the perfect tree (with hot chocolate in tow).
Side note – 2 years ago my daughter and I had a great time creating our own Charlie Brown Christmas. We found the scraggliest, most pathetic little tree in the forest and built a Snoopy dog house out of boxes to place under the tree with our stuffed Snoopy Santa on top.
We created an entire Peanuts Christmas scene out of the tree in one corner of our living room. It remains one of my favorite Christmas trees. 🙂
One of my favorite retailers is Amazon. It's where much of my Christmas shopping occurs – all with the convenient click of a mouse and no headaches from the crowd.
I like Amazon because the search and ratings abilities make product selection a snap while giving me a no-brainer, low cost provider for nearly everything on my list.
When I shop locally (computers, television, etc.), Costco provides the same no-brainer solution (best value for money without requiring tons of research).
Amazon is not actually a retailer because it acts as the middleman for an amazing number of retailers. That's why the selection and availability of products is unparalleled.
In fact, I'm one of those retailers as I have my ebooks on the Amazon Kindle marketplace.
Another development in the works is my Steven Steps to Seven Figures course. I'll tell you the premise behind the second step of the course: It teaches the habits and attitudes that create wealth automatically as part of your daily living so your financial success becomes a matter of “when” – not “if”.
The reason I tell you this is because it ties into the Amazon shopping discussion above and the fact readers have been asking me for years to post a recommended reading list.
Along with the general “best books” I've recommended, here are the best books on:
- Creating habits and attitudes that build wealth
- Beginning investing: asset allocation
- Advanced investing: quantitative strategies
- Market histories and bubbles
I'm trying to be a smart businessman by giving you value through the recommended books and giving you a chance to support this site through a shopping strategy I use myself.
When you click through one of my book recommendations (which are all affiliate links), I get paid on every purchase you make at Amazon (whether it's the book or not) while you're there.
These are wonderful books to give as gifts because you're giving the gift of financial knowledge.
Books are your best value in financial education, and every purchase made while shopping at Amazon supports this site so I can continue bringing you all the high quality financial education I provide at no cost.
It's a great way to give “thanks” and is a win for everyone.
So thank you for your support during the holidays. I hope you get value applying some of the same principles my family uses to keep the holidays sane, affordable, and most importantly – joyous.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving (and a peaceful Black Friday with online shopping instead)!
The One Decision That Can Make Or Break Your Financial Future
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Todd, one thing we have done that relates to adult gift giving is this: instead of asking “what would you like for Christmas?'” we ask “to what charity would you like me to make a donation in your name?”. And we suggest a charity that others can give to in our name, if they so desire. I think this helps us not only relieve the crush of shopping for everyone, but also refocuses everyone to think of others, not themselves. Our great surprise was the unanimous support we received from all in taking this approach.
Happy Thanksgiving. Bill
Hi Bill – Great to hear from you again. It has been a long time. Great suggestion on the donations instead of gifts. I hope you are doing well and wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Happy Thanksgiving, Todd!
We totally agree with the “gifts are for children” policy, and we practice this, although our relatives often don’t and it gets awkward at times. We’ve always maintained that Christmas (holidays) are really for the kids and for celebrating our spiritual values.
We subscribe to the “Amazon.com and you’re done!” tenet!!
So excited to hear your coaching program will be coming online very soon.
Hi Darlene – Thanks for your support, and happy Thanksgiving to your family as well.
Todd, I remember as a child going with my Mom to the Black Friday sales … this was before people got trampled, pepper sprayed, or camped out the night before. Now, as an adult, I really see them more as an exercise of how big corporations have mesmerized consumers into buying and more buying. And, they sometimes artificially raise the price so that steep 50% off isn’t really such a steal at all.
Anyways, my nephews are now at that age when financial planning is crucial, so thank you for the book suggestions. They may find a book from me this year ….
Tammy, thanks for sharing.
I really enjoyed this article as well as the Charlie Brown Christmas. I have a miniature Charlie Brown tree
with Peanuts characters that I like to put on a special table because it reminds me of my childhood. I am getting smaller on the gift giving too. Just kids and parents. I do not do Black Friday sales, I think people
have gone crazy with the fighting that we see on TV. Besides you can get things almost as good on sale later. I really enjoy your posts and have learned so much from you and I hope to learn more. Appreciate
all you do.
I appreciate your support.