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Retail Therapy

Are you planning how much you will spend on Christmas? Black Friday sales already are expanding from one day to a week, and some are even planning on a month of "sales." The supply chain problems are going to impact the availability and the cost of what you are trying to buy for Christmas. The average household spend 30% more on Christmas during the pandemic (can you say Retail Therapy?) and the expectation for over- and emotional spending is the wrong strategy for 2021. Marketing experts have studied "scarcity marketing" where competition for already limited supplies (like when the product you want is on a ship parked in the harbor due to the current supply chain crisis) drives prices through the roof.

We are seeing scarcity in everything including gas, water, food, and everything else we buy, but also we are experiencing scarcity in jobs, income, and savings. Christmas is not a time to make-up for broken relationships, put on a show for family, or to stress-out at the unrealistic expectations of others. In the movie, "Jingle all the Way," scarcity and unrealistic expectations, literally made people crazy and willing to get the "right gift" at all costs (physically, emotionally, and financially).

This year, creating a strategic plan for shopping that is realistic to the size of your budget will mean you are giving yourself the gift of being financially wise. When you think you have to buy the big-ticket item, don't buy it now. Wait for the gift to go on sale AFTER Christmas. Some people expect that expensive gift and will become punitive if they don't get what they want. Limiting the amount of spending per person and focusing on the children and not the adults should be your priority. Adults may WANT an expensive gift, but if it is going to put you into debt, JUST SAY NO! People may get their feelings hurt when you don't shower them with "stuff," but hurt feelings that lead to you going broke is not a good reason to overspend. Have that conversation with your family BEFORE they don't get a gift Christmas morning. Set a boundary (limit) on how much you are willing to spend. Be gentle and intentional about how much you can spend. If you can't afford anything, be honest. If you have a family of 4 and can afford to spend $25 each, realize you will spend $100. If you have more money in the budget, or more family members, adjust the amount of each gift accordingly. If you know how much money you can afford to set aside, then divide it by the number of gifts you plan to buy, you will KNOW how much you can afford to spend for each. It is easy to impulse buy when you see a gift that is "perfect" but imperfect for your life. And remember, if you put it on a credit card, you'll be paying double for that gift over the next 12 months. OUCH!

One thing I learned to do many years ago was to purchase my Christmas presence all year long. I would start at the "after Christmas sales" and would be finished by the time "back to school sales" came around. I also would buy one $25 gift card a month and come Christmas I would have a handful of options for friends, my boss, and coworkers I forgot to get a gift for. This strategy helped me stay calm when everyone else was frantically shopping Christmas Eve. If you'd like to learn more strategies on healthy spending, check out this podcast: The Fine Print with George Kamel (

Take time to focus on love. It is free to give and receive and the memories are going to last long after the toys are broken, lost, or forgotten.

"For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money,

have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

1 Timothy 6:10


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