December 2, 2013 | Posted in:How Life Works

SHARE

1. Holiday traffic is a nightmare. Plan ahead.

It’s 2013 and we’re an advanced civilization, yet 99% of travelers tend to hit the highways and airports at the exact same time. There has to be a better way. Why not try an alternate mode of transportation this year like a Greyhound Bus, or the Amtrak? One is a traffic reducer, and the other is traffic-evader.

If you choose to drive your POV across the country, state or county, try to time your driving against the other 100 million drivers. Depart a couple days earlier? Take the trip home a couple days later? I highly recommend using the Waze app on your Android/iPhone. It will get you to your destination in the fastest manner possible.

2. Don’t fight over electronics in Walmart (no matter how inexpensive they are).

There isn’t a TV on this planet priced low enough that it would be worth a night in jail.

3. Avoid shopping during big sales.

Obviously, being a frugal-minded individual, you prefer to buy stuff on the cheap — BUT — big sales lead to bigger than anticipated purchases. You might walk into Best Buy looking for a cheap TV and walk out with a new cell phone, some Blu-Rays, and a new oven.

This time of year EVERYTHING is on sale, so it’s hard to avoid the temptation to buy all new stuff. How about blocking yourself from visiting Amazon.com, and limiting mall and department store trips down to zero as well. Sales are intended to get you to spend more money.

The super-low priced products are used as bait to get you into the door. Choose to not bite.

4. Stay away from crowded areas.

With crowds comes stress. With crowds also comes enormous lines (which are even more stressful). When you’re forced to stand in a line for any long period of time you’re prolonging your exposure to the goods and products that surround you.

The crowded mall food court starts to smell delicious, and before you know if you’re spending $20 on lunch which only adds to the spending you’re at the mall for in the first place.

5. DIY gifts can be super affordable and totally awesome.

Unfortunately, the masses have been conditioned to purchase all of their gifts pre-assembled. It can be a huge time saver to hit the mall, grab a few things, and be done shopping for the year like it’s some kind of chore. Or you can create stuff for your friends and family that is completely badass and insanely inexpensive.

Check out this photo pin-board my wife made recently for less than $20. Yeah it took a little bit longer to physically make it, but she didn’t have to battle her way through the mall to purchase it either.

6. Remember books?! They, too, make great presents.

When I was a kid I loved getting books as gifts. Then, when I was a angsty teenager I hated it. Then, I became an adult and I began loving books again. They make the perfect gift, because they’re fairly inexpensive and they can be entertaining, educational, or spiritual. Whatever the recipient is into.

You can pick up used books at thrift stores for $1 or less. Sometimes you’ll find a gem of a book, and it will be in GREAT condition, and it will come to $1.06 after tax. How’s that for a great, cost-efficient gift?

You could even print out every Johnny Moneyseed article ever. Bind them. Put a sweet cover on it. And give it as a gift. Holy shit — that’s nearly a free gift and it’s amazing.

7. Less is more when decorating your house.

You may have recently watched National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but hopefully you weren’t inspired to have the brightest Griswold-style house on the block this year.

There are many reasons to keep your holiday decor to a minimum:

  • The more lights you have the more electricity you will use which will lead to a bigger than normal energy bill.
  • The more things you have plugged, the higher the risk that you’ll burn your house down.
  • It costs a lot of money to buy a ton of decorations.
  • AND, your house probably just looks tacky if you load it with tons of lights and giant blow-up characters.

8. Keep drinking to a minimum (level of intoxication).

95% of the people that read Johnny Moneyseed love to drink alcohol — in moderation. Personally, I love a great craft beer or 5. But, when you’re hanging out with people you haven’t seen in a while a few drinks could end up in an impromptu wrestling match, or countless other bad decisions.

While we all love a good excuse to throw a few back, leave it at a few and don’t end up in jail for the New Year.

9. Don’t buy people shit unless they asked for it specifically.

Starting on December 26th, millions of people will be heading back to the malls with gift receipts in hand, for the purpose of getting rid of the crap they didn’t want.

Why enable this behavior? You’re going to avoid the mall in the first place, so it would be fair if no one else had to head to the mall to return stuff either. This is pretty easily avoided by getting people stuff that they actually want.

10. Gift cards are garbage.

I need to set the record straight on this. Why the hell would you ever buy someone a gift card? It’s like giving them money that they can only spend in one place.

It doesn’t mean that you want them to be able to pick out whatever they want, or even that you understand where they like to shop. It means that you’re lazy, have absolutely no creativity, and you just feel bad giving someone cash for whatever reason. Just give them the damn cash!

11. Set a limit on gift buying. and DON’T buy yourself ANYTHING.

I’ve seen it on Twitter and Facebook multiple times already “I went to the mall to buy gifts and ended up buying myself a few things. That’s okay right?” NO, IT’S NOT! Well, it is if you absolutely NEED something, but unplanned purchases typically fall into the ‘want’ category and should be avoided at all costs.

Without creating an upper-limit for holiday spending, gift buying can add up very quickly. With $200 you should be able to buy gifts for 10-20 people easily.

12. Great deals and saving are NOT the same thing.

Keep in mind that if you spend money of any kind, you essentially aren’t saving any money. You’re spending less than you normally would typically, but in no way are you saving anything.

Marketers have done their best over the years to make you feel like a good sale is extra money in your pocket, but this idea is complete lunacy.

13. Craigslist will be loaded with actual deals starting on December 26th.

Something magical happens right after a few hundred million Americans exchange gifts with each other. Tons of those people need to make room for the new stuff by getting rid of the old stuff.

You can find cheap appliances of all kinds, TVs, electronics, cell phones, games, etc. Pretty much everything you actually want is going to be on an instant fire sale, so set your Craigslist alerts and make sure you have a friend with a truck on standby.

14. Be grateful for what you do have.

Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year that you need to be thankful of what you have. It should be an ongoing process, and shouldn’t be influenced by what you don’t have.

If you don’t receive the thing you really want, reflect on all of the things in your life that you do have. Think about the kids in Third World countries that have absolutely nothing. Think about your family. And, just think about how great the holidays really are.

Start your own Kick-Ass blog in less than 10 minutes.

I will help you via email for the first month of your blog’s existence, free of charge. You can bounce ideas off of me, ask me for tips on building up a following on social media, among other things. Whatever you need help with, I’m here for you.

How to create a Kick-Ass Blog in 10 Minutes

23 Comments

  1. Nic
    December 2, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    I had to laugh at your gift card comment. You’re exactly right. It’s like giving money that you can only spend in one place. You might as well be buying bitcoins for someone. haha.

    In all seriousness, I understand the gift card thing. I’m guilty of it myself. You need a gift, have absolutely no way of knowing what they want, so you get them something that they can use a store you know they like. Unfortunately, people think “cash” is lazy and gift cards are somewhat “thoughtful.” I’m in your boat though… I would never argue with someone giving me cash! I’d appreciate that more than any other gift, frankly!

    • Slackerjo
      December 3, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      What about a gift card to a restaurant you know somebody loves? Or their favorite spa? Or the dog groomers? Even charity shops have gift cards. I think gift cards are fine if you think things through.

      • Jason B
        December 3, 2013

        Leave a Reply

        I agree with you 100%

      • Johnny Moneyseed
        December 4, 2013

        Leave a Reply

        Gift cards force people to spend money in a certain area. If you give them cash then they can choose to use it however they please. Most of the time you’re just enabling them to spend MORE money. Gift cards hardly ever cover the complete cost of purchases, so we’re just helping to push consumerism on our friends and family! I’ll take a gift card over a shitty gift any day, but 9 times out of 10 I’d rather just have cash.

  2. The Warrior
    December 2, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    One “gift” we have been giving family and friends is a “hell-of-a-day”.

    What’s a “hell-of-a-day”? Good question.

    A “hell-of-a-day” consists of anywhere between 3-5 activities that you have pre-purchased and designed the day to follow. Consider it like an ultimate date but can be used by 1,2,3, or more people. Example, we might buy my parents gift cards to buy two tickets to a movie, then a gift card for their favorite restaurant, and lastly, some fun adventure thing that 55 year olds might have fun doing.

    Yo Johnny: Don’t hate on my gift cards. Their for experiences and I built one “hell-of-a-day” gift with them.

    Hope this gets your wheels churning in your dome.

    Well wishes – Happy Holidays!

    The Warrior
    NetWorthWarrior.com

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      December 4, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      Still, I’d rather just give them the cash to do all of that stuff then instead. It gives them the option to go out and do the “hell of a day” thing or they can just keep the money, or do something different with it. If that’s your thing, then that’s cool, but it just doesn’t make any sense to exchange cash money for a piece of plastic that’s only good at ONE place!

  3. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer
    December 3, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    Kudos on all point here, JM. It always amazes me to see people beating the crap out of each other over material items. Really, people??? 30,000 children die each day to malnutrition related diseases and you’re freaking out b/c you can’t get your hands on that great TV deal. Where on earth is your perspective?? I’m right there with you on “give them the damn cash” too. Great post, JM. :-)

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      December 4, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      Especially after going to Ecuador earlier this year and seeing children who have absolutely nothing. Then you write something like this, and people argue about how valuable gift cards are. Kinda makes you think! :)

  4. Dee @ Color Me Frugal
    December 3, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    I completely agree that fighting over things on Black Friday at Walmart is sad and crazy. I’m not sure I totally agree about the gift cards. Case example: my mother is a nutritionist. She has the healthiest diet of anyone I know. But her guilty pleasure is pizza. She totally loves it when we give her pizza gift cards for Christmas, birthdays, whatever because then she can justify eating pizza once in a while :-)

  5. writing2reality
    December 3, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    Love the Thanksgiving concept there at the end JM. I equate it to all those folks who only show their significant others love around Valentines day. Appreciation and gratefulness for those around you and what you have should be done on a daily basis, with no exceptions.

    And seriously, the people who buy crap for folks who don’t want it or didn’t ask for it makes no sense. I personally hate getting anything like this or seeing people do this. Don’t waste your time or money. That $9 plastic trinket you just got someone… trash. Don’t bother.

    Great post all around JM. Everyone needs the reminders from time to time.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      December 4, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      Yeah I remember getting stockings filled with stuff when I was younger, and while it seemed great at the time, I realized later that I didn’t really care about any of that stuff. If it wasn’t candy, it probably wasn’t going to its full intended use out of me. My parents could have saved so much money if we were to have just exchanged a few things and called it a day.

  6. Slackerjo
    December 3, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    #9 made me laugh because my family has compulsion to thrust totally useless gifts on me.

    I don’t drink hot drinks. No tea, no coffee, no hot chocolate. Everybody knows this! But not drinking hot drinks did not stop my family from giving me a coffee cup every year for a decade. Last year I had to post on FB that if someone gives me a coffee cup I will throw it at their head. I tried hints, I tried tact, but it all FAILED so I had to resort to threats of violence. But I did not get a coffee cup!

    I tried asking them to give to charity instead of me. I even forwarded them the link to the catalog of inexpensive but USEFUL gifts for people WHO REALLY NEED THINGS like medicine or school supplies or a breeding goat. They did give a bit to charity but once again, I had to extert a considerable amount of effort pretending to like the useless pile of stuff I would never use in a million years.

    Let me tell you it’s exhausting pretending to like stuff that you really just consider a giant pile of clutter. Now I just put it in a plastic bag and drop it off at the charity shop on the way home from Christmas dinner.

    The stomach acid churing stress of this first world problem is so bad that rather than freak out on them, I just go home and have a little cry. Christmas should not make an adult cry but that what it does to me.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      December 4, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      If they end up getting you a hot drink receptacle of any kind you can throw it my way. I LOVE COFFEE. I drink an unhealthy amount of it daily. Just don’t bludgeon your family with it first :) I hope you have a nice Christmas this year, and it doesn’t make you feel like crap. I totally understand that stressful nature of the great Middle Class gift exchange process.

  7. Broke Millennial
    December 3, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    Greyhound, FTW!

    Speaking of printing out your blog as a gift — my Mom actually had a hardcover book made out of my Dad’s blog last Christmas. It wasn’t too expensive and he really loved having his writing in print. Maybe a good idea for people gifting to bloggers this holiday season. Plus, you could keep doing new editions as the blog develops year-by-year.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      December 4, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      That’s really cool. I was just joking of course. I mean, it would be an awesome gift for someone :) But that was really thoughtful of your mom. Kudos to her!

  8. Jason B
    December 3, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    I have to disagree with #10. I have no problem giving or receiving gift cards. If I don’t need or use it, I just get money for it on cardpool.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      December 4, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      Yeah but you’d get face value for it if it were just given to you in cash. That’s all I’m really saying here.

  9. Laura @ RichmondSavers.com
    December 3, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    That Walmart video is just insane. I can’t believe people choose to act like that – and all over a TV, too. Sad.

    On a positive note, I love the idea of books for presents and DIY/handmade gifts. Expensive things don’t mean nearly as much as meaningful things!

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      December 4, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      That was one of the 3,000+ Walmart stores in the US. I can’t imagine that it was any prettier at any of those other stores.

  10. Justin @ RootofGood
    December 3, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    Love #9. “Don’t buy people shit unless they asked for it specifically.”

    I sooo hate fake smiling when I get something that isn’t very useful. Which is almost everything, since I’ve already optimized my “stuff”. I either need something and get it, or don’t need something and don’t get it. If I don’t need it, I don’t want it for Christmas for damn sure.

    But every year I make the inevitable trip to Walmart to return random things people got us that are nearly useless.

    Wow I sound like an ungrateful ass. An ass who doesn’t like extra junk cluttering up his house! :)

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      December 4, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      Yeah if someone wants to buy me the Moto X from Republic Wireless, THAT would be a great gift, because it’s something that I’m planning on buying already and would make my life better (because my original RW phone is a complete piece of garbage).

  11. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living
    December 4, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    I love Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir for their work on trying to get people to NOT buy on Black Friday and get sucked into the materialism of Christmas.

    Home made gifts are the best. I’m making a corkboard out of wine corks I’ve collected for a friend for Christmas which is another easy fun DIY project.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      December 4, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      If you think about it, that’s a SUPER expensive corkboard :) That’s really cool though. I’m glad people are putting a little bit of DIY-elbow-grease into their gifting this year!

Leave a Reply

*



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>