With the first cold weekend after the summer, I can tell just by looking around that people everywhere have begun thinking about the holiday season. I’m not talking about Veterans’ Day or Thanksgiving; Christmas is the day on people’s minds as they erect their gaudy displays. The advertisements are not yet full-force on television, but web sites are aglow with the annual holiday shopping ritualistic articles.
Following a recession, and with a public still dealing with unemployment, a holiday focused on consumerism and materialism is a sure bet for added stress. You can witness this through the popularity of faux frugality. It is valid for those who intend on spending money to buy presents for friends and family to seek ways for spending less. The Black Friday deals mailing lists and web sites are already abuzz.
There is a reason retailers have jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon, offering discounts galore for a limited time: coupons plus holiday hype is very successful for encouraging more people to spend money. Overall, the more you involve yourself with coupons and deal finders, the less money you’ll have in your bank account. This is not frugality. In some cases, the most you could say is that this is smart spending, but in most cases, coupons encourage people to make worse decisions about their spending. Ever worse, it encourages more contemplation of spending.
I’m not suggesting a nationwide No Spend Day. Material gift-giving is entrenched in modern society. Its source is the retail advertising industry, which has been powerful enough through various media to transform a nation with money to spend throughout the past century. Or if you believe the true source reaches back beyond the past 100 years or so, the sentiment has been amplified recently. None of that matters; unless your family or community has successfully shunned mainstream thought, the holidays feature consumerism. So if you’re going to spend, make the best decisions, but don’t put yourself in a position to be financially unstable later.
If you’re interested in real frugality, understand your gifts may not be appreciated unless the recipient is thinking along the same lines.
Do you plan to have a frugal holiday season this year? If so, how? Will you scour Black Friday deals or consider spending less without marketing influence through coupons? If not, why not?
Updated November 9, 2010 and originally published November 8, 2010.