It’s the most wonderful time of the year...or is it? 2016 has gotten a bad reputation for being one of the worst years in recent history. Aside from political tensions, police violence and the various deaths this year has seen, we are also at the beginning of what many call our next great economic crash. At the beginning of this year, we saw major financial journalists predicting a terrible economic climate for the United States this year. Checking in at the end of the year, we can see that this prediction has proved true. Inflation maintains its steady increase, starting with .07% in 2015, 1.7% in 2016, with predictions to rise to 2.0% by 2018. This country also continues to dig itself deeper and deeper into debt. People are beginning to feel a familiar hardship that we experienced circa 2007-2008. One might think that, presented with these facts, people might try to cut back or save for a rainy day. In reality, this Black Friday saw some of the highest revenue since its genesis, including over $3 billion in online purchases.
I’m not pointing fingers; I made a fair share of purchases this weekend. This time of year dictates excess. Advertisers everywhere sit around a table brainstorming new ways to make us spend more. It’s not too hard... a majority of Americans have the tendency to be highly consumeristic. For most of the year we keep this a secret, but during the holidays, we can justify these purchases because we are buying for others (most of the time). During the holiday season, everything is overdone: we eat too many calories, we spent too much money, we decorate our houses to an exorbitant amount and we celebrate. This is all justified because it only happens once a year, right?
We still need to be mindful of our limits. It’s great to celebrate and create traditions for your family and friends, but we have to think past the holidays. Last week we talked about the importance of impulse control. This is one of the most trying times of the year for our impulses. Rather than browsing the Amazon Black Friday sales and buying things you didn’t even know you needed, give that money to someone less fortunate than yourself, or save for something important. We are in a season of heightened spending; it's worth it to make this spending count. This year, don’t buy that 50% off drone or that reindeer costume for your dog (it won’t wear it, trust me). Use your money on something that matters. Enjoy the most wonderful time of the year, but don’t forget the months beyond December.