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.