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It's Not Always About the Money...Well, it’s that time of the year again… time to spend all kinds of money for Christmahannukwanzadan whether in stores or through online shopping in an effort to buy short-lived happiness of friends and family.

Ok, maybe it’s not that cold, but the stores and media sure want you to think that way.  They would love to guilt you into spending every last penny you own.

I think most of us tend to loosen the purse strings a little bit over the holiday season every year.  But to help put it into better perspective, the average person will spend $805 during the holidays.

That’s a lot of money!!!

Now take a second and think about what you received as gifts from some of your family and maybe some friends from the last holiday season – struggling to remember what the presents were, aren’t you?

One of the best Christmases I remember was with my wife and I on a year where we decided to save money and not blow it all on presents for each other.  But we wanted to still have something to unwrap on Christmas day.  Our solution… we both went to the dollar store and each spent $20 on each other.  A bunch of crap you say??  Yes, it all was, but it was fun doing the actual shopping and hiding the stuff from each other in the store… and we still use those chip clips and candles to this day!  And of course, it did work out that we saved some good money that year.

A nice change is that the dynamic is shifting toward a lot more online shopping versus in-store… online shopping will account for 46% of holiday shopping this year.

This is good because I think you don’t do as much impulse buying when you’re online (I’m sure that’s debatable and depends on the person).  Online shopping also gives you a better opportunity to do some price comparisons and research products before buying.  Yes, you can do this on your phone while in the store, but you’ll probably be a little hastier while you’re there (especially when it’s busy during the holidays!).

Shopping online isn’t going to save you a fortune, but it should give you a chance to take your time and be a little more selective in what you buy rather than loading up a cart with a ton of junk just because there’s still a couple left on the shelves.  And fortunately, during the holidays, online merchants tend to charge you little to no money for shipping.

I joined Amazon Prime a few years ago and I think that has been a great investment for us. Why, you ask?  It is true that it’s $99 per year, but that gives you FREE two-day shipping on almost everything you order.  Let me say that again – FREE two-day shipping… no minimum order, no muss, no fuss.  I’m not the kind of guy that feels he needs to go into a store to get that feel-good shopping experience.  So I order everything on there when I think of it… need deodorant?  Ordered and received in 2 days’ time.  Need shampoo or a spark plug or something else?  Ordered and received in 2 days.  Although I will generally order a group of things at once, a lot of times, I’ll just one-off what I need. Talk about low-stress!

As a side note, I know that I absolutely make back that $99 in probably just a couple months alone, but Amazon wants to make this a service you really buy into, so they throw in a bunch of other good stuff as well for FREE such as:

  • Amazon Prime Video – a subset of their full, online video store, this allows you to stream some good movies and TV shows just like Netflix.  We do enjoy some of the videos on here though the selection isn’t as large as Netflix has.
  • Prime Music – similar to a Pandora or Spotify, this gives you ad-free access to a ton of music.  And you can also pick a specific song or album to play which is something I love.  I use the Android App on my phone all the time and love it!
  • Kindle Owner’s Lending Library – lets you borrow one book a month with no due date.
  • Kindle First – This lets you pick from a few books each month to “buy” for free one new book.
  • Prime Photos – unlimited photo storage!  Set it on your phone and let it back up all your pictures that you take – no need to worry about photo backups anymore!

Sorry, this wasn’t meant to be an ad for Amazon Prime, but it’s one of the those few things I feel is a real bargain and is actually worthwhile!!  Now, let’s get back on track!!

One of the most interesting stories I read is that a recent study found that people are happier with experiences over things.  This actually surprised me – I was one of those people who thought that owning something you’ll have for a long time would be better than something that you go through and are done within a short amount of time.

However, it does make sense… for example, I know if I think about the last cruise I went on, there’s that extreme feeling of happiness when we booked the trip, the excitement of the days leading up to it, and obviously the vacation itself.  Did it end there?  Of course not – we use a home theater PC as the central hub in our living room.  When a movie or show is paused or if we’re playing music, it randomly shuffles all our pictures.  When a picture from that cruise vacation pops up, it’s like an instant memory and starts us all reminiscing (and wanting to book another trip!!).

We noticed that the presents we normally get our daughter for Christmas are pushed off to the side within a day or two.  So this year, we’re going to try to focus on the experience idea for our daughter and see how it goes.  We’re trying different ideas such as tickets to Disney on Ice.  She’s only five so we’ll still do some presents, but most of these will be kid basics we know she’ll use – crayons, markers, construction paper, etc.

Our hope is that when she’s older she’ll still have the fun memories instead of a vague remembrance of a toy that she might have played with for 20 minutes on a Christmas Day years ago.  In the meantime, it will give us an opportunity to shift some of that money toward something more useful such as her 529 plan.

What do you think?  Do you usually spend a lot during the holidays?  Do you think people would be happier with receiving experiences versus things?

Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

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It’s Not Always About the Money…
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4 thoughts on “It’s Not Always About the Money…

  • December 9, 2015 at 3:04 pm
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    I’ve never been big on gifts. If anything, useful gifts are way better… or experience. We plan on giving each other useful gifts that will get used regularly or some sort of experience.

    Reply
    • December 9, 2015 at 3:18 pm
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      I like the useful gifts idea so that whatever you give or get doesn’t just go to waste. Over the years, my wife and mother-in-law would get all riled up that all I have on my Amazon wish list are “useful” things. They think that’s not any fun, but I enjoy things I can use more than junk I can’t.

      — Jim

      Reply
  • June 5, 2017 at 11:40 pm
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    I love the dollar store idea! I seriously got more excited by the thought of getting a bunch of dollar store snacks than I have about anything on my wish list for the last few years. What a great idea!

    Reply
    • June 6, 2017 at 9:44 am
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      Haha, glad you liked that one, Ariel – it’s served our family well when we’ve done it! 🙂

      — Jim

      Reply

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