Damn those holiday flyers. I know enough to stay out of the malls this time of year if I want to avoid overspending at all the store sales, but those holiday flyers keep coming to my mailbox and inbox. Even for the most frugal among us, the temptations are hard to resist.
For instance, for years I have suppressed the urge to buy a KitchenAid stand mixer. I do bake often and am not one of those people that would let it sit idle on my countertop like a culinary bauble to complement the smooth expanse of granite. Still, I've always mixed my chocolate chip cookie batter and pie dough with a fork and a bowl - the way my mother and her mother before her did it. Alas, since the start of November, the flyers have flooded in, advertising the stand mixer on sale in several stores at half its regular price. I caved and bought one. I'm thrilled with my purchase, but am now recycling the paper flyers and deleting their e-mail versions as soon as they arrive. I can't afford any more holiday deals.
I recently read an article on holiday makeup which urged women to buy the jumbo palettes of eyeshadow, blush and gloss now on promotion at most department store cosmetics counters. They're the best deals on makeup of the year, it said. One cosmetics retailer is selling a holiday kit for $65, versus its regular retail value of $325, provided an expensive perfume is purchased as well. It makes me wonder if all of these holiday deals are really steals. And do I actually need sparkly eyeshadow in 20 different shades?
Steve Siebold, author of the book How Rich People Think, believes that holiday sales can be a money trap that many people fail to recognize they are stepping into. "Middle Class America is notorious for living beyond their means," he says. "Either the consumer racks up even more credit card debt than they already have, or they pay cash but spend so much that they don't have enough to pay their mortgage, car payments and other essentials."
Consumers need to be particularly careful on major retail sales days such as the recent Black Friday in the U.S. and the upcoming Boxing Day in Canada. Here are some tips from Mr. Siebold on how to stay strong in the face of holiday deals and not break the bank:
• Ask yourself if you would rather have the short-term satisfaction of expensive material possessions or the long-term results of financial freedom and abundance?
• Compartmentalize your emotions about holiday spending and focus solely on the goal of a prosperous financial future.
• Don't fall for marketing campaigns that make you feel as if you're getting a great deal when you're really not (for example, buy it today - pay for it tomorrow).
• Kids learn by example. Even parents who have failed to reach their financial dreams can still teach their kids important lessons about money during the holiday season.
While Mr. Siebold acknowledges that there are good deals to be had, one needs to be mentally tough to know when enough is enough. "When it comes to thinking about money, put your emotions on the shelf and let reason be your guide," he says.
I still feel good about my new stand mixer and I plan to bake many batches of cookies over the next few weeks. But I'm going to make sure that baked goods are my only vice this season. It's easier to get rid of holiday calories than holiday debt.