Frugality: Avoiding the Call to Early Holiday Shopping

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It’s been a minute since I’ve written a post about frugality in this space. Which is ironic because it’s our number one tactic for paying back $575k of student debt aggressively. But a few days ago I was irked by an advertisement that flickered its way through my InstaStories. It already bothers me that Instagram advertises like crazy on the app., but usually I can let it go and just flip through to the Stories I actually want to see. This one, however, was special. It was so special that I interrupted my husband’s reading to show him the ad.

The ad publicized an article written by New York Times three (four?) days ago. The article called people to start their Christmas shopping now in order to beat shipping delays. “Economic experts advise getting your holiday shopping done ASAP.” Ironically, this was published the day before SPY took a turn for the worse (Monday morning). Stocks are falling, consumer consumption is an all-time low as the government’s aid and renter’s protection ends, inflation is rising … and this is their idea for boosting the economy? Get people to spend more money, ASAP by instilling fear of missing out? I’m DEAD.

Before you rush out the doors at the behest of LA Times and start spending hard-earned dollars on Christmas gifts, please stop and think. Okay, so maybe little Johnny might not get the toy of the season this year. Isn’t it too early to HAVE a toy of the season? Also, will little Johnny really care about the same toy four months away? I mean… I don’t have them, but… kids, am I right? And what are we exactly teaching younger generations here?

I recently read in a book called Influence by Cialdini that toy stores have a tactic, which is to stock their shelves short of a very specific seasonal toy on purpose during holiday season. The toy is advertised heavily pre-holiday season so that kids are clamoring to get their hands on it. The parents, of course, promise the children to get that toy for them for Christmas if they are good, only to find that the toy is sold out and they cannot get their hands on it. Because the parents have made this small commitment to their child, they feel the need to buy the toy sometime early the following year (and substitute with a different toy during Christmas time so they don’t appear empty-handed), usually in January or February when the shelves are re-stocked. Anyone who works in the toy industry knows about this tactic (apparently), as the author of the book first-hand experienced seeing his neighbor two years in a row in the toy store on a February day. His friend who works at the toy industry confessed to the tactics toy stores use.

Can we please all agree that these consumerist ploys are not beneficial to any of us, only to the larger companies who make money off of us? Can I just say that this could be a tactic used to get us to spend money to “boost the economy” aka their wealth? Or perhaps it is the companies’ way of anticipating the repercussions of aggressive money printing, debt postponement, and the end of government aid at the end of the year and in calling for early Christmas shopping, securing our dollars right now before the possible dip?

Look, I get it. You want to show loved ones you love them. I myself publish gift guides in this space. Gift-giving is actually my love language (in case you didn’t know). But there is a line I draw.

I’ve written before about my thoughts on Black Friday. I’ve written advice about how to write a holiday no-gifting letter. I wrote about getting a group together to create a new norm of saying “No” to Secret Santa Gift Exchanges. I gave consumable Christmas gift ideas as well as ten really simple gift options. And if you wish to move the needle one way, I suppose your own actions do more than words, yes?

Anywho, if you fear missing out on a very specific purchase, by all means, rush out the door. But honestly, now isn’t the time. Now is the time to save your money. Stay frugal. I, for one, am staying put. No ploy for me. If the shelves end up running dry, it’ll be bread and cookies for everyone.

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