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 that 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 during the holidays and find some happiness in the process.
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 are about experiences – not stuff.
If you put Christmas and Thanksgiving in competition and asked me to pick 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 that is based in 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 is no consumer oriented mental clutter – just giving thanks.
Christmas offers many of the same benefits but is encumbered by consumerism through gift giving. I have 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 that Christmas is about family gathering and not consumerism so we have created a variety of gift giving guidelines:
- Gifts are for children only (through college graduation). Adults don’t exchange gifts. It just gets to be too much cost, 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 is no emotional buying “because it is 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 cost of gas and wear and tear on the cars. It is 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 the 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 make 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 is where much of my Christmas shopping will occur this year – all with the convenient click of a mouse and no crowd headaches.
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 unparallelled. In fact, I will soon be one of those retailers as I move my ebooks to the Amazon Kindle marketplace early next year.
Another development for next year is I will be offering my first group coaching course (yes, I know it has been long anticipated and awaited). I haven’t named this new course yet (more on that in future emails) but it is all formatted and ready to go. What I will tell you now is the premise behind the course: It teaches the habits and attitudes that create wealth automatically as part of your daily living so that your financial success becomes a matter of “when” – not “if”.
The reason I tell you this now is because it ties into the Amazon shopping discussion above and the fact that readers have been pestering me for years to post a recommended reading list.
I’ve been putting off getting the recommended reading list done despite repeated requests because there always seemed to be some other priority. I’m finally making time for it now to coincide with the holiday shopping season.
What you can expect over the next several weeks is the addition of several reading lists organized by specific topics in investing and wealth building. Each will be announced in this newsletter throughout the holiday shopping season. This first list provides the recommended background reading for my upcoming course on the habitudes (habits and attitudes) that build wealth. Get a jump on 2012 and pick your favorite book today…
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 is the book or not) while you are there.
So anyway, these are wonderful books to give as gifts because you are giving the gift of financial knowledge. Books are your best value in financial education and every purchase made while shopping at Amazon (after checking out one of these books) supports this site so I can continue to bring you all the high quality financial education I provide at no cost.
It is a great way to give “thanks” and is a win for everyone.
So thank you for your support during this big shopping weekend and throughout 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)!