With the final hours of cyber Monday winding down and all the post thanksgiving weekend madness behind us, lets talk a bit about the holiday season ahead. If you haven’t guessed already, I try my very best to avoid sticking my nose out of the house on days that have names like Black Friday, Terrible Tuesday or whatever the new one is. However, I think it’s safe to say that the frenzied shopping “experience” is a big part of our culture that isn’t going away any time soon. In fact I feel like I can slowly see it creeping up in other parts of the world as well. I’ve had my moments of frustration and rage against these unofficial holidays as they seem to suck all life and meaning out of what we are actually celebrating. Bur for now, all I can do is accept and weather the storm.
That being said, I still enjoy the acts of exchanging gifts with my loved ones. It is a great chance for everyone to feel the joy that can come from giving to others. Yet so often the pressure that comes with everyone buying and trying to please all at the same time while also dealing with everyday life (read: expenses) can push people over the edge and into the dreaded stress-mode.
Like most forms of stress, a lot of the holiday shopping stress comes from that hidden part of everyone’s lives called their personal finances. Yet one thing to remember about this time of year is that it happens every single year at the exact same time. It isn’t something that falls out of the sky and hits you out of nowhere over the top of your head. You see it coming all year long like a train coming towards you on the tracks. Unfortunately, many people act like a deer caught in that train’s headlights; they become paralyzed and don’t know how to act, until… BOOM! Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the other colorful days happen all at once reminding you to get you ass out there and buy some stuff fast!
Unless, of course, you want everyone to know you’ve had all abilities to love striped away from you and you are actually the Grinch reincarnate.
If you feel like this has happened / is happening to you (it has to me in years past), then try a different approach starting next year. Find an online savings bank and open an account. Set up an automatic savings plan and transfer say $10 every Monday from your checking account. By the time the holidays roll around you’ll have exactly $520 to splurge on your peeps. Better yet, you will have money available all year long to buy gifts for the holidays. You might even be done with your list before Black Friday ever happens. For most of you out there 10 bucks a week won’t even come up on the radar. Try $5 if that’s too much. I haven’t even mentioned all the savings you’ll get by NOT loading up your credit card in December…. It’s a win-win unless you are in the credit card business (sorry, but you’ll be fine).
If I could only get congress to make Holiday Savings Accounts tax deductible…