Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Christmas 2009 - Have Things Changed?

Are you ready for the holidays?  Have you started planning out your holiday get togethers and decorations?  Do you have a complete list of who you will buy presents for and what you will get them?  Are you in full swing with your home made gifts? (You have been knitting a sweater for Uncle Alfred for over a year... haven't you?)

I know we have not yet seen Halloween, but as all good retail outlets want you to know, Christmas is just around the corner.  The society we live in expects presents and parties and unusual good cheer to radiate around the countryside.  Where do you fit into all of this?

I have noticed lately that people are a little closer with their spending.  I know that may seem like an obvious statement, but it is something I have seen more and more of lately.  I am starting to hear things like, "It's not in the budget," or "I'm not sure we have that expense planned for."  In the community I live in those statements are unusual.  I haven't seen the signs of big spending that I normally see. The number of new car plates are down and I think I even saw a lady with last year's designer purse.  (Okay, that last one was a cheap shot.)

I recently heard that in the United States the percent of people saving money is up.  In fact, even though people have less money they are saving more.  They are trying to reduce debt and sock away cash for a rainy day.  I heard the answer to "What would you do if you won the lottery?" has changed from "Go on vacation!" to "Pay off bills and put money yin the bank."

Apparently our culture is changing a bit.

I was always taught to spend less than I earned, to pay myself at least 10% of my income and to be modest in my wants.  I know that may seem conservative, but it has worked for generations of my family.  One thing that is different in my generation from that of my grandparents, is the amount of information we have flooding into our homes every day.

With the internet to serve up answers to every question, I can look at all the things I can't afford in great detail.  I have planned a $25 thousand dollar vacation to a remote island.  I have researched state rooms on luxury cruise lines.  I have looked at designer wardrobes and detailed a backpacking trip through Scotland.  With so much information online and the ease of internet commerce (which is based on credit), I can obtain almost anything without much effort.

So back to Christmas.  What are you going to do this year?  Are you planning on making it smaller than last year?  Will your gifts be more practical?  Does splurging seem a little uncomfortable?

I don't have the answers to these questions, but they seemed like a good point to start the discussion.  How has the recent economic downturn changed your habits?  Have you needed to cut back, or do you find yourself at the same slow and steady pace you have always used? Do you limit your "window shopping" on the internet, or do you keep dreaming?

Let me know, I am curious.

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