Minimize Consumerism This Christmas

I just wanted to open this post by saying that it’s getting really close to Christmas and the holidays and I know quite few people out there have much on their mind in order to satisfy others through the annual ritual of giving out gifts this season.  I’m just hoping that you’ll be very mindful of such a thing as ‘consumerism’ this season where merchants and marketers know you are coming at them full steam with purses and wallets open wide!

Good marketers are going to capitalize on this and millions to billions will be spend by top retailers on marketing this season to get you in and spending as much as they can get you to.  Some people ‘camp out’ near big retailer chain sometimes days in advance for the latest gadget to be released.  Who are these people?  Hopefully, you’re not one of these types.  Retailers have one thing on their minds, to get you into the ‘consumerism’ of the holidays and really over extending yourself.

It seems I’m not the only blogger that’s keeping an eye on consumerism this season.  Looks like Baker of Man vs. Debt blog had the same idea in his “What Christmas is NOT About” Post, Gail Vaz Oxlade’s  “Holiday Shopping” hits a nerve, A High & Noble Calling blog post “How Do you Avoid Mega Consumerism at Christmas” invokes attention and’sHow to Setup Your Christmas Budget” is good advice.  Just a few other great bloggers helping you to keep money in your pocket this season.

So many people get caught up in the giving and especially spending side of things that they don’t really take the necessary time to spend more time with their families and so on.  Isn’t that what the holidays are supposed to be about?  Every time that I visit a shopping mall certain times of the year, it reminds me of a scene from ‘Jingle all the Way’ with the fight over a turbo man doll.  See video clip below and pay special attention to timeline :45 – 1:06.  Hilarious.

So, as you can see, consumerism can drive people crazy.  First, there was road rage now it seems there is a type of shopping rage going on with people clamoring for the latest consumer goods and must have items.  

I am reminded of a couple I heard on the Dave Ramsey podcast one day.  This couple would go out of their way constantly every Christmas to buy things for every member of their family.  Not just immediate family, but relatives like aunts, uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces and the list went on.  Long story short, this couple with no children of their own had built up massive consumer debt for keeping everyone else around them happy.  They were literally adding to this consumer debt year after year until they got a proper plan to rid themselves of this ‘dumb’ debt. 

This couple went on to tell all their family that the current Christmas they would not be buying anyone any gifts because they had put themselves so far in the hole financially, it was hard to literally dig themselves out of their own mess.  Some of their family understood perfectly, some resented them but the moral of the story is that this couple finally got rid of this debt after doing some tough love and looking after themselves financially first and foremost. 

Good story and points well taken, hope it helps you to see the bigger picture about your finances.


Get a Spending Plan this Christmas

It will be tough to take your emotions out of your spending this Season, but realize that it’s imperative if you want to save your finances this season.  Have a plan and if you have a significant other, do plan out how, why and who you will be purchasing any gifts for this season.  It will take out quite a bit of the stress and bring you more relaxation this season which will help you get the most out of the season.  Intrinsic values such as times with the family, seasonal dinners, even a traditional gift opening are some of my favorite moments during the holidays.


Budget for Gifts

It’s interesting, but the majority of people when they purchase gifts for people don’t have a proper and sensible budget organized for what they can actually afford.  Make certain that you take the time to really look at your spending plan from above and budget for gift giving and even unforeseen expenses, like hosting a Christmas lunch with food items.  Want a real party; join in a potluck for your street or neighbors and friends.  You will be surprised how much you actually save by combining food from others to make up your meals.  Little things like whipping up your own egg nog rather than store pre-packaged types can go a long way.  Use your imagination on this one and limit spending on unnecessary items as it adds up quickly.


Stay Clear of the Plastic

Did you know on average, most people spend a lot more if they are making a purchase with a credit card vs. cash?  That should tell you something, because credit is something you don’t necessarily ‘feel’ when you are making purchases, can you see how it affects your purchasing overall?  Now, on the other hand, think of when you have cash and want to make a cash purchase, you will usually purchase more wisely as you are aware of how much you can actually spend without spending all your cash on you.  Not saying that you should walk around with a thousand bucks in your pocket, but making purchases with cash are usually more likely to keep your finances in check.  On the other side of the equation, if you need to make card purchases, try doing it with your debit card instead.  You will be more mindful of what you can and cannot spend.


Forget the Post Holiday Blues

So many people get caught up in the crazy shopping sprees and gift giving without thinking of what happens next.  For many, it means going into a decent amount of debt to carry you into the New Year.  What a way to start the year!  I challenge you to think different this holiday season and come out free from gift giving and spend thrift debt.  Remember debt is debt and if you have existing debts, this just adds more and more financial burdens on to you.
What are your thoughts going into the Christmas season?  Got something on your mind you want to share?

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Category: Financially Elite Blog