Friday, November 23, 2012

Not Buying It

I don’t shop on Black Friday (and definitely not on Gray Thursday). I like to save money, and I love to find a good deal, so why wouldn’t I love Black Friday?

Most of my purchasing is for things that I need, but I also do allow myself some things that are just wants. However, I do not buy things that I don’t really want. Black Friday and related days are about buying stuff that I’m supposed to want.

Most people buy things that they think they want, things they are told they need: fancy cell phones, flat screen TVs, and high-power blenders; 50 pairs of jeans, 100’s of T-shirts and even more shoes; New luggage, new computers, and new gaming systems; DVDs, name-brand sneakers and toaster ovens.

Do these things really make anyone happy? Has anyone ever gotten a high out of using their new blender? Do you watch all of your new movies and conclude that your life is awesome? Do you jump higher when wearing your new basketball shoes? Does your new cell phone really make you more connected? Do your family members enjoy those Christmas gifts so much that they are glad you skipped Thanksgiving dinner so you could go buy them?

Black Friday is a scam. Just like television commercials and programs that show us all of the wonderful, shiny, delightful things we just must have, Black Friday is about making us think that our lives will get better if we buy this stuff. Our food will taste better when prepared with power blenders and fancy coffee makers. Our friendships will be richer once we have an iPhone to chat with others. Our sex will be better if we wear the right underwear. We’ll finally feel rested if we cover our bed with the right high-thread count sheets.

Full-color sales ads are delivered to every house shouting out ridiculously low prices on great things. There are extremely low stocks of the “good stuff” for which people will wait in line for 12 hours, but that doesn’t stop the hunger for more goods. People trample each other, vying for the best position to get the newest gadgets. Fights break out. People die. Somehow we turn into more primitive versions of ourselves.

And at the end of the day, our cars are packed full of all these attempts at happiness. We drive home, unload the car and spend the evening alone in our house. Our only companions are silent; somehow they don’t seem quite as dazzling now as they did mere hours ago in the store. But never worry, soon the credit card bills will come in. The phone will ring off the hook as the collectors come calling.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Happiness is Recreating Memories

Tonight Trucker and I recreated a date night we had over 5 years ago when we had just moved into our first apartment together. We were hard up financially. I'd just moved from two states away and didn't have a job lined up yet. We had spent what little money we had stocking up the pantry with some of the basics, filling in the gaps with cleaning supplies and buying a new bed. So even though we were young and crazy in love, we didn't have any money for fancy date nights.

One of our early evenings in that first little apartment, I was craving smores. We didn't have a yard, let alone permission from the landlord to start a fire on his property. So we grabbed marshmallows, graham crackers, chocolate and chop sticks. We roasted our marshmallows over the flame on the gas range and giggled and talked while we ate our delicious snacks.

Now we're living in our first house together. And while our income is a little higher, we're spending every little bit of extra money painting the bathroom, putting up shelves in the laundry room and all the hundreds of little things that need done. And so tonight, we grabbed our marshmallows (on sale for $.79), graham crackers (generic brand $2), chocolate ($1) and chopsticks and made our smores over the gas range and talked about how far we've come.

Romance doesn't have to be costly. Sometimes the very best date nights are the ones where you spend nothing but time together.

Shared with: Penny Pinching Party

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