I wonder what goes through people's heads as they risk life and limb to join frenzied mobs to be one of the lucky ones to grab a deal, as they fight and fret so that they may stand on line and possibly go into further debt.
I suppose bragging rights may play a part. “You should see the crowds I had to brave to get my kid the new XYZ gaming console.” “Look at this bruise I got when I had to fight over the last umpteen inch TV in the store.”
And I should not dismiss basic economics. If I can save fifty dollars on a product I actually need, and I make only $15 an hour, and it only costs me two extra hours and five bucks in gas, I've saved $15. And I've got some bragging rights in the bargain.
But the cost is far higher than any savings. The average household credit card debt is $15,675, which leaves the average consumer paying $2600 a year in credit card debt.
Let's say you spend just $500 on your holiday shopping. If you are only paying 15% on your card, you're paying an extra $75 a year to carry that debt, or five working hours.
Taking the $2600 average payment in the US, even if you earn $26 an hour. You're still looking at a 100 hours of work a year to carry your debt, 67 hours of time and a half work, 50 of double time.
But you also get a lot of stress, and worry, and maybe a big TV, that you can stress and worry in front of.
There are better things to do with your time, especially if you want a relationship.
Instead of spending two hours to get some appliance you'll be replacing in a few years anyway, why not create a memory that could be with you a lifetime.
Leave your phones at home. Take a walk in some deserted summer hangout, go ice skating, if you can still find an old main street with holiday lights and cheer, take a walk, and don't stop to shop. Just enjoy the sights and smells.
If you can, find a coffee shop or bakery that isn't Starbucks, and doesn't have wifi, and enjoy the moments with each other.
If you are already in a relationship, maybe spend the time to do that thing that you said you'd get around to, which you are reminded about all the time, and which really, if you admit it, ought to get done. That will be remembered. Send the gardener away and rake the leaves yourself, if they are still there, and then come in and have home-made hot-chocolate together.
If you are a little artistic, or even not, you could just fold a piece of paper in four and make a card.
The thing is, people remember how you make them feel, and they remember that far longer than they will remember what you bought them, but maybe not quite as long as you'll remember that you have to pay and pay and pay, and work and work and work, and spend countless hours of your life for what you don't even remember you bought this Christmas, and the last, and the one before that.
So I suggest you use the one thing you can't get back, your time, to create the memories that will always be with you, and that maybe the better memory is the time you spent with the people you love rather than the time you had to fight to get the device/toy/gadget/fashion item of the season so you could pay it off longer than you care to remember.
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