One of my go-to blogs is called Debt Proof Living by Mary Hunt. This was her Facebook post today. I admit that I love the search for the deal. Right now the flyers are overflowing with huge savings, meaning savings off of prices you wouldn’t have paid before the sale. The real way to save? This artist nailed it. Wishing you many 100% savings. Happy New Year to all, Deb
I don’t know how many of you are still out there but I promised myself I would try and reach as many of you as I can. Time is short. Some have already fallen to exhaustion and will be woken with shrill cries, demands for tribute submerged in a haze of carbohydrates and sugars. The frenzy of wrappings, colours, people and conversation may make it impossible to think clearly. You are being conditioned my friends.
How do I know? Because last year that was me and I vowed to share my story so others do not have to make the same mistakes.
You can call me Deb because that is my actual name. It seems like only a year ago I was celebrating, unwrapping yet another low fat cookbook, which was starting to make me a little sensitive, and hitting the hot cocoa pretty hard. I was feeling no pain, except for the damage to my self esteem, and was relaxed. I was too relaxed. As I sat at the table, under the pile of newspapers I saw the edge of something glossy. Why was there no music in a minor chord to warn me of the danger? I’m always the one at a movie to notice the music when someone heads for the basement door or walks into the woods in high heels. No. There was no warning for me. I pulled the sheet towards me and there written in thick black oozing blood, I mean ink, were the numbers. It said 70% off everything (with the illegible writing saying that it did not apply to anything that you wanted, that you had to ask a clerk to help you find, non-toxic, non GMO, in your size or in style).
I started to shake and quickly check the time. It is only 20 hours until the Boxing Day sales started and I knew I needed to be in that line. Where was the sale? It didn’t matter. Did you not hear that it was 70% off? I’d never been to Hank’s House of Hinges but they were giving out free organic ragweed blend knitted scarves with every $200 purchase. How is that not a deal? I don’t remember that day well but if you come to my home you may notice that everything moves well. Too well.
It is too late for me to unplate the damage but it doesn’t have to happen to you. It doesn’t matter the discount. Defend yourself by making a list before you look at the flyers and if you do not have anything on the list get rid of the flyers without looking at them. Yes I know they compel you to look. In history there has been the dreaded three, the basilisk, Medusa and the Boxing Day flyers. The peril is too great. I have purged the house of these papers. The inbox. No. I must empty the inbox. Why do I hear music? Nooooo.
Christmas time can be the discount bin of emotions. There is the occasional gem but there is a lot of stuff that is no bargain. Yes I am talking about the neon leg warmers of feelings, guilt. In recent years I’ve been a little more savvy in my approach to my finances for Christmas. I put aside a set amount a month and create a budget. By Christmas time I know what I have to spend on everything from gifts, food, travel and clothes. Since I know the amount I will have, my brain has a framework and things seem to slide in rather neatly. That is the financial side. The other part, the emotions thing, can occasionally grinch it all up for me. It doesn’t just leave me with a curled lip patting my little dog while looking down on Whoville. It tends to push me down the mountain and bundle me in any layers of guilt I might roll across. In the past the temptation was to spend without a budget because I didn’t have any money anyways. Excellent logic. Now the temptation is to purchase that one extra thing. I say I do this because I want to give and that is true. I say that those I love are worth it. They are but honestly I also want to feel good and pretend that I’m not as pinched as I am. Gift giving season makes me think about my finances and I don’t want to. Worse I do not want anyone else to know that I cannot buy them the ultra deluxe turnip twaddler with the GPS feature. This is when the worst of the guilt appears. It is the irrational guilt, the things over which I have no control, the things I should not carry, that jumps right into my shopping cart. This is the big ticket item. Out of anything you pick up this season this is the one you cannot afford. You have to put it back.
The real harm in this sort of guilt is that it usually brings its seedy little friend judgement. We label ourselves for things that are out of our control. I feel guilty for not being able to live up to some artificial standard. I feel I have failed and it must be my fault. Rationally I know this is not true and it is this truth that has to guide my feelings and behaviour. I have to switch from distorted thinking to accurate thinking. A great blog post on doing this is Renee Jain’s http://blogs.psychcentral.com/stress-better/2014/11/forget-positive-thinking-try-this-to-curb-teen-anxiety For this Christmas season I want us all to receive the gift of freedom from unreasonable guilt, the freedom from judgement that should have never been.
I love most free stuff. I do not say all as viruses, spam and grey hairs are free but unwelcomed.
A couple of weeks ago I celebrated my birthday and that is when a number of companies offer discounts or freebies if your get on their email lists. IHOP offers a free stack of pancakes, Boston PIzza offers a dessert, Montanas has an appetizer and my favourite, Red Robin’s offers a burger.
My son’s birthday is exactly 2 weeks after mine. I signed him up for Red Robin’s birthday club as well. Here is the dilemma. The coupons are good for one week before your birthday and one week afterwards. That leaves Josh and I one day shy of being able to go out and both get free burgers.
I decided to phone the restaurant and ask if I could use my coupon even if it was a couple of days past due. They said yes! I pressed “print” from my iPad. Problem. The coupon only half printed out. I went with the email and coupon in hand and to my relief they accepted it. Big points for Red Robin’s. We saved $21 and I made sure I tipped on what would have been the total without the coupons. Two happy customers and a very happy server.
Next I needed a cake for Josh’s party. I’d received a Dairy Queen coupon in the mail for $7 off an ice cream cake but it was only good for a location 20 miles away. Since I have one 7 blocks away that didn’t work for me. I called the restaurant and the worker was not sure. She asked me to call the manager. The next day instead of calling I stopped in. The manager was happy to help and explained that though each location runs its own promotions they would honour the coupon. Hooray! Josh ended up with a cake that was over budget but right priced after the discount.
I saved $28 just for asking. Now that is a happy birthday.