This week’s mortgage minute:
Here it comes, all of the tracking of consumer spending and the effects on the economy.
Every year the media usually starts with “Black Friday” that is the day after thanksgiving where the retailers usually start making their year profitable. The holiday spending spree!
Expect it to lead just about every news story this season for the next two months. You’ll get the before, during and after. They’ll tell you about how much you’re not spending and the effects it has on local and national retailers and their fortunes. It has already started. The closing of Circuit City (they were already in trouble, it has nothing to do with the economy today) and Linens and Things as well as others.
Now the sales are starting earlier and discounts are deeper. We are a consumer nation hooked on gadgets, things, cloths and stuff. Our economy is reliant on you spending your money all through the year to support all of the small and big box stores that fill the malls and community shopping centers. We are fed a daily diet of “buy this and buy that”. We are given “for a limited time only”, and “but wait, there’s more…if you order now…”
I laugh at the car companies that advertise special offers “This special is only good until November 21st” then on the 22nd there is another “for a limited time offer” that looks just like the last one. They’ve been giving special low rate financing offers now for over two decades and the current one is no different that the last one.
Here is the message. You need to take care of yourself first. I don’t care what the media has to say about consumer spending being up or down. What I care about is how you are doing financially. Do you have an unpaid balance on your credit card that still has last years Christmas presents on it? If so, maybe you should be one of those that the media cites as “consumer spending is down”.
How much money do you have in savings? Have you saved throughout the year to anticipate your holiday budget, or is it coming as a surprise? Like, gosh Thanksgiving is almost here and I need to go out and start buying presents. Did you plan for the season?
I’m not saying this to be harsh. It is reality, and in these days of economic uncertainty, one thing you should be certain of is where is your money and how should I, or shouldn’t I spend it.
This may not be the Christmas where the tree has so many gifts that they are stacked, tucked, and overflow behind the chairs and halfway up the stairs. This may be the year of thoughtful, valued gift giving Upcoming holidays 2021, or secret Santa’s and community sharing. I was touched by the little boy dying of leukemia whose wish was to feed the hungry. His name is Brandon. The news stories show him in bed in, what surely must be his last days on earth at 11 years old. His wish is to feed the hungry so they won’t have to suffer. Brandon has every right to complain about his circumstances, to feel sorry for himself and say “why me”. But he wants to feed hungry people so they don’t suffer. 11 years old and possessing the knowledge that he probably won’t be around for this Christmas, or his next birthday. That there are no more medical procedures, trial medications or hope to extend his life; and he wants to feed the hungry so they don’t suffer.
I’m not even suggesting that we not have a “traditional” Holiday Season. Do what you do for the holiday season, turkeys, pies, parties, gifts, and the whole thing. What I would suggest is that we give pause. Think about what the true spirit of the holidays is. Put some thought into this season and ignore the consumer spending indexes and graphs and figures. Ignore whose sales are up and whose sales are down by this percentage or that. Take a moment and think of what you can do to make this holiday season just a little different, memorable and meaningful to those you love. Maybe of what you can give of yourself instead of just spending money, of what could do to enrich someone else’s life with a thought, word or deed? And as we near the New Year, what resolution you can make that you really believe you want to see come true, something that maybe you would really like someone else to do for you or a change that you know you can make in your own little world.
For many in our community, this has not been the best year ever. We have all been touched by something that has adversely affected our families. I could have been a job loss or change, an unexpected expense. Maybe it was an extended work strike and the effect that had on family and finances. Maybe it was an illness or a family member or someone you know whose loved one was sent to Iraq, never to return. Whatever it is, think about what you could give this season to bring a smile or some hope to someone else’s life. Something that just maybe could make their life a little sweeter, a little brighter.