Thursday, April 30, 2015

Doing Christmas Better

One of the most important components of prepping is to reach sound financial health, but so often, when we get to the Christmas season, we spend well beyond our means.

The “joy” of the season causes us to get caught up in the moment. 

We buy a cut, live tree that will go in landfill. 

We buy poinsettias that will die and go into the trash. 

We will buy things from all the people fund raising at that time of the year.

And some of us will try to outspend the Joneses.

I am posting this now so that you can plan ahead and do Christmas better.

Some spending makes sense.

I am an advocate of taking advantage of the inevitable two-for-one turkey sales in November because one turkey can produce many meals.

Many supermarkets run great prices on meats during the Thanksgiving/Christmas season to get you into the store for the deal and—oh while you’re here—you can buy other needful items that are maybe not so much of a deal, but you don’t see that because you got two for one.

Or some other such come on.

Go for the true bargains and avoid the rest.

Some spending is idiotic.

I am referring more to the spend-a-fortune mentality for Christmas presents because we get caught up in Black Friday sales that create a sudden and heavy depletion of money from our accounts.

Oh wait! We charge it.

Oh wait! We owe, so that depletes our accounts.

Therein lies the problem.

We charge all those “good buys” and some that really aren’t on our credit cards. Then we spend lavishly on food and spirits using cash or debit cards.

And THAT is the problem because not only do we have credit card debt, we may have depleted cash reserves as well.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are bad for us because stores bait us with too-good-to-be-true offers and then group “was this price/ now is this price” items nearby to get us to believe those purchases are good too.

And they aren't.

I need to rant…

Kohl’s is one of the worst at scamming and they do it year around.

Kohl’s posts an inflated price and then offers a discount which makes it seem like a deal and then sweetens the deal with a percent off, if the buyers use the Kohl’s card.

The result is that you pay WalMart prices for WalMart quality clothes, but you think you’ve gotten the merchandise nearly for free.

Idiocy. Shop at WalMart.

While I am NOT saying that we should not buy presents for friends and family, I am saying we should be more intelligent about how we buy for them.

Buy during the year.

Pay cash.

Wrap them up to keep prying eyes from learning the contents and label them. You do stock up on Christmas wrapping paper after Christmas, right?

Put the ribbons and bows before you put them under the tree.

I hope your tree is fake. Buying a cut tree, just to throw it away in my way of thinking is immoral. At least buy a live, potted tree that can be planted in your yard with an eye to giving shade.

Better idea? Put up a fake tree and buy a fruit tree to add to your backyard orchard.

Beyond buying, however, is making gifts.

Our society has lost the ability to make things and, furthermore, we undervalue the gift of thoughtful, homemade presents.

It’s not that all presents need to be homemade. Kids need new bicycles at Christmas. Mom might need a new laptop or a cell phone. I get that.

What I am promoting is the idea that your family and friends get gifts that stem from your preparedness.

For example, my yard produces more rosemary than I can use, so I dry it and plan to give a year’s supply to quite a few people. Ditto dried spearmint.

I make sauces, but I freeze them. When I relearn how to can, I will put some of the sauces in smaller jars with an eye to giving them as gifts.

My green chili enchilada sauce is to kill for, as is my red jardinera pasta sauce.

Growing up, my grandmother and her sister made things during the year and preceding the annual Church Bazaar that was held just in time for Christmas.

Many churches still do this, but I like the idea of homemade goodness that was made with love and good intention being where we focus our spending.

Yes, I am advocating that YOU should make presents for people rather than buying, but if you are not ready, I urge you to support a church bazaar and at least focus your money in the right direction.

It is the right direction because the purchases will be homemade and back-to-basics.

It is the right direction because the proceeds will go toward some beneficial outcome rather than the corporate bottom line.

In short, as a nation, let's do Christmas better.

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