11.27.2010

Debt-free holidays

Yesterday was buy nothing day. We bought nothing on Black Friday. Well, that’s not quite true. We bought coffee beans and a bagel at the grocery store, and we bought gas for the truck to get back to Seattle from Eastern Washington. But we didn’t buy into the retail insanity. I’ve never shopped on Black Friday, and I hope that I never get drawn into the pre-dawn frantic consumerism. We’re having a debt-free holiday.

This Christmas, like many before it, our families will be drawing names for gift exchanges. We have $50 limits and limitless options for creativity. I’ll be maximizing my minimalist Christmas & Hanukkah by trying to buy only the things that I know people want, and by giving things I’ve made. Since our gift exchange doesn’t include the kids, people can all feel free to give a gift to the kids. I’ll be making gifts for my soon-to-be 5-year-old nephew, and my 6-month-old niece and my little Pie.

Of course I have a little something up my sleeve for Logan, too. It’s out of stock right now, but hopefully it will be available soon! I will also be giving him something home-made – pies, but this little thing is something I can’t make!

It seems that now, more than ever, people are concerned with controlling their finances, but so many people don’t have the tools to manage their money and their impulses. Black Friday seems to have been a roaring success, even with continued financial struggles. The NY Times reports an increase in shoppers since 2009. Why are people clamoring to spend money they don’t have? Why are people willing to thrust themselves into debt, some racking up credit card bills that they’ve just paid off from last Christmas, to have more things?

Not only am I committed to keeping my family out of debt this holiday, but I am also going to try to give away one thing every day that I don’t need. I have a lot of things that I’ve accumulated, and I hate getting rid of things. But eliminating clutter in my home and my life will help me to control the impulse for more.

I hope that I can move through this month ahead without crumbling at the feet of the clever Target commercials and the emotional marketing tactics driving us all to the mall.

UPDATE! I failed to mention that I plan to continue saving money through the holiday season, in addition to avoiding debt. I’m not going to avoid debt just barely, by spending every last dime I have, but will avoid debt and have something to show for it at the end of the season. I use ING as my super-easy, accessible savings vehicle, in addition to a small emergency savings account with my bank. ING offers a $25 bonus to you (and a bonus to me as well) if you open an account with my referral before 12/31/10. Email me at mamaisa4letterword(at)gmail(dot)com and I’ll send the referral in to ING and we’ll both be laughing all the way to the bank.

So over the next month I will be posting about the things I’m getting rid of and the things I am buying. For today I’m reporting that I bought pie pans as a holiday gift for someone, and one for myself. These pie pans were an amazing price and will last for years, unlike the non-stick pie pans that scratch the first time you cut into that pie, no matter how careful you are. Then they rust, deposit the chemical coating into your food, and get all nasty.

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This pan is not old, and it wasn’t cheap, but no matter how careful I thought I was being, the edge of the pie server, or a fork tossed on top of it in the sink nicked the non-stick coating, which then rusted. I sure don’t want to put a pie on that. Non-stick is a waste of time & money. I’ve given up cooking in this pan, and use it only as a water dish when I’m making bread to keep the oven humid, hence the water ring. I’m sure that made the rusting worse, but the cuts in the pan were already rusted before I retired it.

And today I’m rounding up some things to get rid of. I have a pretty pair of heels I’ve worn only a handful of times, and now that I’m carrying a baby (and I’m a fall-downer to begin with) I’m not going to be wearing them again any time soon. Size 8.5

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And a pair of river shoes that have never been worn outside. Crazy, right? Well they were a little big for me, but they were on sale, so I had to have them. Size 9.

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If you want the shoes off my feet, send me a message at mamaisa4letterword(at)gmail(dot)com! Otherwise they’re being donated. I’ll continue to try to get rid of one thing every day between now and Christmas, and I’ll post about the things I’m buying & making for my holiday gifts.

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