Monday, December 1, 2008

A tougher holiday season than when I was a child

A tougher Holiday Season

Life was easier when I was younger. It seemed that way. We had the same desire for material things but less of a need, back then. Today, computers and computer related things make up about 30 percent of my life and spending. That's a lot of money being spent. And a lot of headache, too. Do I really need it all? I don't even want to ask myself that question.

Worse, the software programs don't run properly. The gadgets we buy don't work the way they were promised. You have to buy a "warranty" just to make sure they work more than a few weeks.

Society is all about buying.

So, when we start to buy less, suddenly it's the economy that's bad, not our spending habits? Maybe we need to be reminded about the value of a dollar.

I don't know. If I had to pick one calamity of this generation, I'd say it is the credit card. They said credit cards would be great in emergencies. Immediate bank loans, of sorts. But they have become doorways into debt. We buy things we can't afford. No wonder what should be great experiences are now the routine. There is no excitement in buying something special. We just buy things and buying is not special any more. Doesn't matter that we don't have the money. We have a credit card.

Which is one reason why, for the past several years, I've been less and less enthusiastic about the Christmas Holiday season, a religious holiday that has become more of a spending spree. Actually, for years, I would fear the holidays. I knew that after the New Year, I'd be looking at credit card bills that would make me very sick and depressed. And millions of other Americans, too. Spending is an addiction, today, not a moment of unusual excitement or something special.

I have changed my spending habits and I have to say I feel better, even if the money I am saving is not helping the economy. It's helping me. It's not easy eliminating credit cards but I am doing it. I have changed how I spend money.

So this year, my New Year's Resolution won't be about promosing to not spend money. It will go back to the other challenge, promising to go on a diet. Who knows, maybe spending less will also mean eating better, too. Wouldn't that be a great Christmas present for a change?

-- Ray Hanania
(from my weekly radio show newsletter ... you can subscribe for free at

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