The Canadian department store Eaton’s actually started the American tradition of Black Friday in 1905. They started their tradition by hosting a parade that encouraged shopping the day after Thanksgiving. A tradition that Macy’s did not begin until 1924.
What you and I should be really concerned about is how much we spend on gifts for Christmas gift giving. Christmas gift spending is a budget buster for many families. The guilt felt by parents after a divorce regularly results in the guilty non-custodial parent over compensating by purchasing gifts for the children they cannot afford. Kind of “I love you because I buy you expensive gifts, ” thing. This is not healthy on several fronts.
The never-ending brainwashing called advertising on television and the internet selling you everything from pet toys to automobiles, programs your brain to respond to the invitation of unbelievable discounts only available one day per year. Retailers are creating a false sense of scarcity. I literally heard a commercial today that said, “You cannot have enough stuff!” Yes, American garages filled with useless crap verifies that statement. Much of it paid with expensive credit card debt! Will that make you content? Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for what you have. It is about being content. The American marketing machine is about you feeling “not content” or properly, discontent. They depend on your discontent being healed with excessive retail therapy. Consider the financial hangover that follows.
Studies have shown that the true wealthy are not nudged into over spending for gifts. They have a budget and they stick to it. The economically successful are not distracted by the hype. Most economically successful people are working on Black Friday, not camped out in front of a store waiting to storm the gate! You, too, should have a reasonable budget for Christmas gifts and not be tempted by the amazing deals being advertised. Step away from the consumerism. Don’t be part of the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) crowd if you do not go shopping on Black Friday. Think of the other productive ways you can spend your time. Personally, spending time in a crowded mall or Walmart is the last thing I would want to do. In fact, most retail stores offer deals for two weeks following Black Friday. Remember that stuff you buy on credit has to be repaid. If you do not pay your balance in full, you must pay interest. That’s not WalletWise.
If you have a young family, take advantage of this time to reduce future large gift expectations by getting into the habit of giving reasonable gifts at Christmas. Make this your family tradition. Do not be influenced to overspend to compete with family and friends who are maxing out their credit card to impress their loved ones. My family tradition was and still is to buy gifts that are useful and items the family member needed. Clothes for example. Makes a great, affordable gift that the receiver would need, anyway.
Create a Christmas gift budget and follow it. If you did not take into consideration Christmas gift spending until now, then it is important that you keep your spending to the bare minimum. Your friends and family will still love you, if you keep your gift spending in line.
Instead of lots of expensive gifts that lose their meaning in a couple of weeks, consider giving money to a worthwhile organization like World Vision. They provide resources like farm animals to needy families throughout the world. Isn’t that a truer vision of Christmas? www.WorldVision.org
How do you decide how much to spend for Christmas? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Be WalletWise! www.WalletWise.org
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