Saturday, January 4, 2014

Embracing Consumerism For the Holidays

I've come to place in my life where I genuinely enjoy being frugal. I no longer find it a "struggle". I don't believe I'm sacrificing anything by living well below my means, and I would even go so far as to say I'm not actually delaying gratification at all. I've been open in expressing my belief that living below your means is not just the most powerful ally you have in achieving great wealth in life, but it can also allow you to hasten gratification - allowing you to accumulate what you really want in life: freedom and autonomy.

However, that doesn't mean I believe in spreading my message to everyone - especially those that don't believe in what I believe. There are many people out there who live for today, and are more than happy to work for the privilege. It's no sweat off my back, and I've never thought that talking people into living frugally and building wealth was a particularly noble achievement. I simply aim to inspire others who aspire to reach financial freedom.

With that being said, I'm embracing consumerism this Christmas. Truth be told, I embrace it every Christmas. I truly enjoyspending time with my family and giving gifts is something that's a deep tradition in our household. I love seeing family member's faces light up with delight when they open a gift that I thoughtfully picked out. For instance, this year I purchased my uncle a biography of Paul McCartney (he's a huge Beatles fan) and a couple of Fatheads - one of Calvin Johnson and one of Matthew Stafford (he's also a Lions fan). I also picked up a couple of Amazon gift cards for my aunt so she can buy some movies and books for her Kindle, as well as an electric blanket so she can stay warm on those cold Michigan nights while she reads her latest find.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is to not let frugality and/or investing overwhelm your life. As well, don't necessarily think you're doing anyone else favors by trying to push your ideas on them. What you embrace may not necessarily be something they'd enjoy. My family doesn't particularly enjoy sitting around the dining room table talking about income statements or recent dividend raises. Furthermore, they don't really enjoy saving money for an unknown future. And that's fine by me. I love them all just the way they are, and equally so they love me for me. And while the love is unconditional, love also usually involves compromises and some kind of middle ground. 

Christmas is my white flag. It's my compromise. And it's not all selfless: I enjoy receiving gifts almost as much as I like giving them. My family means the world to me, and taking part in tradition outranks my desire to change my life - if only for one day. Besides, the little kid in me loves shredding some wrapping paper open with my bare hands, revealing a shiny new gift. It's once a year, after all. 

And sometimes we must have that white flag in our lives. Maybe it's a first date where you don't want to necessarily unleash the gates of frugality right away. You don't want to overwhelm someone, after all. Maybe that white flag comes around one Friday night per month where you and your friends really hit the town in style with little regard to the bar tab.

What I'm not saying is to fit into society at all costs. However, I do recommend to toss up the white flag every once in a while in the name of keeping friendships current and maintaining family relationships. I'm not saying Christmas is all about gifts, but I'd feel like a self-serving jerk if I showed up with nothing but homemade cards and cookies. And if I do the mall thing once a year, so be it. I'm not aiming to push frugality on others. Rather, I'm aiming to buy time so that I can spend more of it with those that I love. Straining relationships with loved ones now in the name of spending more time with them later would be counterproductive.

So, yes. I'm embracing consumerism this Christmas. My guard is let down once a year, and I'm totally okay with it. Frugality is a wonderful tool, but just make sure you don't become one on the way to financial independence.

How about you? Do you ever toss up the white flag? 

This article was written by Dividend Mantra. If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe to my feed [RSS]

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