Over the last week or so i’ve sat in front of my tv watching endless Black Friday/Cyber Monday/Cyber Week commercials. Everyone seems to be rushing around to get those great deals. The nightly news is fond of covering the people camped out in tents in front of Best Buy or Target. Driving around town i’ve encountered a lot more impatient drivers, perhaps trying to get to the store to buy a last minute turkey or an important Christmas gift.
Even I, a self-described smart shopper and money saver, have gotten wrapped up in the holiday craze in recent years. It’s easy to be swayed by the big signs saying 50% off . I would awake to my alarm at 5am and be at the store when they opened. Even to me then it felt like a bit of madness.
So heres my 2 cents of anti-consumerism. The holiday shopping season has gotten out of control. The department stores are advertising great sales, sure, but also this is a tactic for getting you into the store. I spend all year looking at store sales and I can tell you that a lot of the time the Black Friday sale is not that much better. Retailers know you’re going to be shopping around that time. They too can make a big sign and entice you to come in.
Ive gotten tired of the shopping craze. Beyond that, I find I end up spending more money than I had planned because the deals seem too good to pass up. Pretty soon I’m buying gifts for people I hadn’t intended to. Last year I estimate I went over my gift-giving budget by about $500.
When I buy a gift for someone it makes me feel good about myself. What a good person I am for thinking of you. If I gave you a gift last year then of course I have to give you a gift the following year. I get caught up in thinking the monetary value of something shows how much I care.
So this year I tried something different: I didn’t participate in Black Friday. In fact, I didn’t do any holiday shopping at all over the long weekend. I decided to make personalized gifts: home made candles, painted ceramics, personalized christmas decorations. Instead of spending time looking for great deals I have bought cheap, simple items and spent my time crafting. It isn’t Christmas yet so I can’t speak to whether my gifts will be well-received but there is one thing I can say. I’m a lot more relaxed not having to hustle to the stores and trample people. Also I’m a lot happier in general. Theres something therapeutic about putting a personal touch on gifts. Most of all, my wallet is a lot happier.
I have a challenge for you: try to think about what people gave you for the holidays last year. If you’re like me you can’t remember very many things or who in particular gave them to you.
I think we as a society need to get over money and things equaling love. Connection and spending time together equals love and we can’t do that if we’re standing in line at Kohl’s all day.