Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Holiday Rx: Tuning Out

My dog, Agamemnon, (yes, that’s his real name. For the record, I had nothing to do with it.) never overspends during the holiday season. Never. So when January rolls around, he does not succumb to the stress and guilt that the rest of us feel after a full month of consuming.

Now, this is for a number of reasons.
First, he is a dog and doesn’t have any money. So naturally he’s got that going for him. Second, he knows how to tune out periodically during the season. Allow me to explain...

Agamemnon is quite committed to spending hours--even days--during the season avoiding all forms of holiday advertising. He stays off the computer. He avoids television. He casts disdainful glances at catalogs. He steers clear of shops.

This behavior, I realize, is quite radical for us humans to adopt. But perhaps we could learn a thing or two from Ag. For instance, ever since Thanksgiving commenced, my inbox has been stuffed to the gills with advertisements. At least every other new message I receive is from the Loft or J.Crew or Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Even Walgreens is cyber-stalking me!

And this, of course, says nothing about the tv ads
and tantalizing Pottery Barn catalogs and beautiful gift guides that the glossies are printing--all calling out to me to spend.

Now let me tell you a selfish little secret of mine: I only pay attention to the items that I want, and disregard the rest. So naturally when I head out to the store, or onto an online retailer, I catch myself picking up “just a few small things” for myself while shopping for others. Things I didn’t really think I wanted until...say...I saw them in my inbox.

This, of course, leads to much overspending
and feelings of guilt following the season.

So though I could never be as committed as Agamemnon this season, I do think that I might try his technique every now and then, by turning off the tv and shutting down my email and enjoying an afternoon at home instead of at the stores. Sort of like a consumer-detox during the shopping-binge.

It certainly seems to work for Ag, anyway.

What are your tricks for staying within your budget during the holidays? Share your comments here by posting them below!

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