I am returning from a blogging pause to tell you the story of my Black Friday shopping experience. Here it is:
I love a good deal as much as the next guy – particularly if it is tech-related. Tech deals abound online and I saw a few that tempted me. I resisted the temptation.
First, I didn’t actually need any of the things that tempted me. Second, I didn’t calculate that the purchase would enhance the quality or enjoyment of my life, except for that short-duration “rush” that one feels when buying something new.
Since selling the family home in September, I believe I have become more cautious about new purchases. My “do I buy it?” tests are straightforward. Is it something I really need, i.e., did something I already own and regularly use break or wear out? If so, I will probably allow myself to replace it.
Alternatively, I will ask myself if the purchase will bring some enduring value to my life, either due to its utility and/or creative pleasure. I need to be careful here because so many products we buy put us on the hedonic treadmill. I do not want to fall victim to that, as I have done in the past. I am struggling a little with this now because I am tempted to buy some new clothes for our upcoming trip.
Of course, the overriding question must be “can I afford it?”
The “can I afford it” question will become more important when I retire because of the fixed nature of my income. This is why I intend to practice making these “do I buy it” decisions by living within my projected retirement budget during a 6-12 month trial period in the year before I retire. That will be interesting.
On a related topic, one of my sons has proposed to our expanding family that we dial back on the Christmas gift giving this year (and in future years). It appears that all of us are in agreement with moving to a “secret Santa” gift exchange concept. There are two exclusions: (1) grandkids and (2) my gifts to my sons. I bargained for the latter because I have always enjoyed Christmas shopping for my three boys and I am not quite ready to give that up. Maybe I can do that next year when Susan and I will have two grandkids to shop for. Actually, we expect to have two of those before Christmas, as my daughter-in-law is due later this month.
I also proposed that we include a “stocking stuffer” component to the gift exchange plan. Each of us will place something small. inexpensive and either goofy (e.g., Bad Santa item) or edible, in the other family members’ stockings.
Overall, our new family gift exchange plan will mean less time shopping, less money spent on things that may not be needed or wanted, and less stress – a three-way win!
Early in our relationship, Susan and I agreed that we would not be buying material gifts for each other. Instead, we would celebrate important events through experiences. This typically means dinner and movie on birthdays and travel over the holidays. (Last year South America, this year the South Pacific.) This understanding has been great for both of us. At our ages, it makes more sense that if we want or need something, we just buy it for ourselves.
What are your shopping and gifting plans this holiday season?