I remember, as a child, growing up in a world where technology was all about the calculator watch, tv remote control with cord and the latest 33⅓ LP. Okay, that last one for the new Gen’s is a record album.
When it came time for birthdays and Christmas I remember receiving socks and jocks (who doesn’t, right?) and that one special gift which consisted of a board game, new basketball or cassette tape. We were a family of five children with one working parent and appreciated what we had.
I look at the department store toys catalogues today around Christmas and am quite often startled by the big ticket items the stores are enticing families to buy. IPhones and laptops, or even swimming pools gloss the pages of these weekly advertisements and I can’t help but wonder how much do families spend each year of gifts.
The ABC reported in December last year that Australians spent $24.6 billion in retail stores in October. In the same report the Australian Retails Association quoted that they expect Australians to spend $48 billion between 15 November and 24 December. WOW!
Unfortunately we live in a time now where we are programmed to spend more than we earn because as terrific as technology is, it is also being used against us. There are stores that insert computer chips into the tags of goods and when they pass by an in-store television screen they will suddenly see an advertisement for the item. There are also countless apps and online stores at your convenience.
Now I understand that proportionately high income families would more than likely buy pricier gifts for their children but my notable observation is that low and middle income family can sometimes try to match those with the higher incomes. I have seen children as young as ten with IPhones and think to myself a phone is just a phone, why not an android. I have seen children in branded clothing lines and think a shirt is just a shirt, why not Kmart.
What about gifts for adults. Is it necessary or are there alternatives to high end shopping to express appreciation, love or existence. My wife and I agree each year to spend a maximum amount per life event and I suggested we ditch the tradition hallmark card for a hand written note or creative message. I have only just suggested that, so we will see how it goes. I think reading a $7.00 card once and storing it with the rest doesn’t compare to a hand written note.
Now, although we do have a limit on gift expenses, that doesn’t stop us from giving non-financial treats in the form of a personally prepare feast, a romantic walk on the beach or my favourite; Love Vouchers. Each voucher has a promise and redeemable at any time during the year.
If you are taking hold of your finances toward financial freedom then I encourage you to jump online and look for alternatives to commercial enticements, there are so many.