Monday, December 22, 2008

A Shopping-Free Christmas?

Public attitudes can change. The public went from green-indifferent to green-obssessed, smoker-dominated to smoker-shunned.

What if the public started realizing that $100+ jeans, shoes, gadgets, etc, were silly uses of money. that the momentary pleasure of their acquisition quickly fades into craving for yet more expensive silly stuff. Like a drug addict, it takes ever more to get that materialist's high. And ultimately, it often results in a crash, for example, when the spender or cash-cow spouse loses a job and can't pay the credit card bills, mortgage, or decides to divorce the spender, whereupon the shopaholic is left with a house of Gucci and a soul of emptiness.

What if the public realized that the money spent on designer-label frou frou might more wisely be spent on, for example, ensuring that there were six aides in every classroom, that every shut-in senior had a companion, that every person would be matched with a mentor? Would not America's Gross Domestic Happiness rise? Might not there be fewer people willing to commit ethical excesses so they could afford big-bucks accessories?

So in thinking about what Christmas gifts to buy, I commend these options to your attention:
  • A donation to charity on behalf of the recipient. One approach: Give the person a check with the recipient line left blank. On an accompanying card, suggest that the person visit, which provides detailed information including efficiency on thousands of charities, arranged by category. If the recipient prefers to spend the money on him or herself, the person can write in their own name. Few people will.
  • A gift certificate for one or more hours of your time to do whatever the recipient wishes: a massage, tutor their child, organize a messy room, etc.
  • If you feel the need to buy a traditional gift, I recommend using It avoids your having to brave the traffic, find a parking spot, and fight the store crowds only to find they don't have what you want. And Amazon has every imaginable item, well categorized for easy finding, at competitive prices, with good customer service. Amazon even offers gift wrapping at much less cost than department store prices.
In case I decide to not post again until after Christmas, Hannukah, etc., have a restorative holiday. I hope you're finding my posts of value.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm listening to a radio program right now. A caller is saying that he and his wife spent and donated more because they could afford to do so in order to do their part to keep the economy going, and is accusing the host of "spreading doom and gloom" by asking if people are cutting back more during this time.

I myself am not cutting back more. I didn't spend much to begin with. I'm a little bit different than many people in that I have more this year than I had in previous years. I have a better paying job, and for the first time in 12 years, I have no debt. So I had more to spend. But old habits die hard, so I didn't spend much this year because in years past I didn't have much to spend.

My mother is not doing as well financially. She got me gifts that I already had and didn't need. Because of her situation, I told her she didn't have to get me anything. She probably won't listen to me.

Can public attitudes change? Only if they're forced to. If people are spending less this year, it's because they have less. Simple as that. When they have more, they will spend more unless a very charismatic and popular person, somebody as big as Al Gore is for the global warming crowd, convinces large numbers of people to spend less, even during prosperous times.


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