The Holidays, Unplugged

I’m sure you are torn between all the sweet deals going on in stores and online to make all that Christmas/Hanukkah loot seem a bit cheaper and the whole buy-nothing-make-something movement.

I get it. Really, I do.

I’m tempted to simply jump on the give experiences not material goods wagon, but I also really want the nice backpack I asked my mom and brother to get me. So I have a solution that will be perfect for whoever reads this:

Do what makes you Happy.

If shopping for everyone on your list makes you and your wallet sob in fear, don’t. Buy cheaper things, buy group gifts for families, or hop on the buy-nothing train. If you feel stupid giving the dry ingredients for brownies in a cute mason jar or candle holders made of tuna cans and clothes pins or coupons for you babysit or wash their car for free, don’t.

As your broke and green lady, I don’t want to buy stuff. As your lazy pal, I don’t wanna make stuff.

So when I found a pricey dress my mom loved, my brother and I split it. For my extended family? They know it is expensive to fly home and are glad to see me once a year. I emphasize that I am the gift. [Insert winning smile]

My friends and I don’t do Christmas gifts unless something really catches an eye and screams your name. Then it’s cheap and it’s clear there is no expected gift in return. We treat each other by taking each other out when it’s out birthday, when we celebrate life events, when we’re a little flush with cash and buy an extra round. ¬†That is what makes us all happy without any pressure.

If it makes you happy to one up your uncle in giving your grandma a cool gift, fine. If that January credit card bill stings through April and you’ve forgotten why by Valentine’s Day…are you really happy?

Joy to the world. Peace on Earth. You are part of this world, you are a citizen of this earth. You deserve joy and peace as well. The first year you let your consumer facade crumble a little may be scary and you may be tempted to feel disappointed in yourself. Don’t. Once you’ve lowered that artificial bar (that no one but you set up in the first place) next year will be easier. Maybe even happier.

You deserve a gift too. Why not just make yourself happy?

Advertisements

Credit Cards and My New Favorite Book

I went over my budget recently and realized that food is my weakness.

I’m not exactly buying fancy, Whole Foods groceries here. It’s the little, insidious things that really start to add up. I’ll tell my friends no when they ask about dinner or drinks…then I usually cave about half the time. And spend what my mind has already decided I won’t spend.

Why is it so easy? Plastics make it possible.

I keep my credit card purchases within a payable range, I pay mine off every month. I know I’m very lucky that I can do that, but I realize I’m also borrowing against the freedom of my future for instant gratification.

So I cut up my credit card.

Well, I stuck it through the shredder at work. And I’m not calling for a replacement until I need to buy a plane ticket home for Christmas.

I really thought it would be freeing. It is. It is also scary as hell. Credit cards are a great security blanket. “Just in case things are a bit more expensive.” “Just in case we go a little wild.” “Just in case I find something I like.” That ‘Just In Case’ security blanket is slowly draining my wallet….and perversely I’m often thankful for that!

I’m tired of making a budget and not sticking to it. I’m tired of living in fear of going out. When I go out, I have what is in my bank account or cash. This works for me because the day my paycheck arrives in my account I pay any bill that will be due before the next paycheck. I do this IMMEDIATELY.

So how am I enjoying my frightening financial freedom? I’m walking more, playing Ingress. I’m reading many free library books.

I wait to pronounce judgement on a book until after I’ve read it. Then I am offering a fully informed position. Not this book!

I’m currently reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle¬†and I am inspired. I have actually laughed out loud several times. Each time I pick up this book I can’t decide if I want to homestead or just make one of her incredible recipes (if it’s in season).

I love gardening even though I’m not good at it yet. I love being outdoors more than the bugs who feast upon me. I may ask for this for Christmas so I can stay inspired year round.