It is not even Thanksgiving yet and I already feel sick. I am not talking about the problems associated with eating too much turkey, which seems to be a lesson we need to relearn every year. In fact, this lesson is something I actually live most days of the week with my boys. Each morning I need to tell them to “take it easy” with the amount of cereal they take. They seem to believe that if they don’t eat all of the cereal in one morning it will disappear. As a result, they often take more than they can eat because they just don’t know when to stop. They then realize that the bus is still coming, and they are not as hungry as they once thought. It is wasteful and frustrating when I see money getting dumped out.
This is not surprising behavior. We are masterful at thinking we need something. Where do you think my kids get it from? Still, I am amazed at the increasing number of elementary school kids with i-Pods, i-Pads and other i-things. Then I hear from my kids how so many people have so many expensive toys and how awesome they are. “Blah, blah, blah” I tell them that they are free to get one when they get a job. They usually get into a discussion about how many of these fun little devices they would purchase if they had $1,000. Then there is the reality check when I tell them that they actually cost real money! I came home one day and my 8-year-old son told me he had $500. He then showed me his wallet which had $500 in fake money in it. He asked, “what can I buy with it?” I told him that it just doesn’t work like that because if you have no money you can buy nothing.
This Friday starts the Christmas retail season. This start feels vain to me. Does anyone real think that standing in line in the early morning to get a sweet deal on something is the “reason for the season” ? I mean, sure, early bird deals might be a real bargain, but spending money is spending money. If you are able to spend it, then by all means go for it, but more and more people are not really able to spend it. I heard on the radio yesterday about how I could get a spa installed today at my home and finance the entire thing. The tag line was “why wait for tomorrow what you can get today?” As much fun as a spa might be, we all know that this is not a smart financial decision. As far as black Friday goes, I know retailers rely on spending during this season for their bottom line. The truth is if people are just going to buy things on credit to get a deal, then it is just going to slow down retail in the months that follow. After Christmas is over people are hit with the realization that they need to pay their credit card bills.
I know people have their reasons, but I believe we need to get a grip on spending. All the debt people are carrying around is just too much of a burden on our economy. Maybe we could focus on my practical budget friendly items this year and avoid the big ticket items. Maybe we could just take a simpler approach to Christmas for a change. No matter how it works out, our eyes will tell us to have another bowl of cereal, even if all we need is to simply finish our coffee and be done. I promise you there will be more cereal tomorrow!
What are some things you do to keep spending in check during Christmas?