It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

You probably just finished buying your back-to-school clothes and stationery supplies for the kids. Yet, here it is, not yet the last day of September and stores all over the country have already hauled out their Christmas decorations. I know. Can you believe it? Used to be, that you’d at least get to watch the Thanksgiving Day parade and over-indulge on a turkey drumstick (and all the good stuff that goes with it) before you would be confronted with ho-ho-ho-ing Santa Clauses and their ilk. What happened to Halloween?

Halloween isn’t quite the money maker for the stores as is Christmas. Sure, you’ve got your candy and your decorations, your costumes, masks and make-up, and great big Jack-o-lantern to carve, but that’s really about it. Granted, mini Snickers bars may have gone up in price a bit, but there’s no real profit on Halloween. Halloween is fun, but it’s no Christmas, and some stores are not even putting up their scary decorations.

Why? Because with Christmas you’ve got your wrapping paper, greeting cards, beautifully trimmed trees for which you need new lights (again!), door wreaths and mistletoe that you’ve got to buy. Not to mention gifts for everyone and their dog. And don’t forget the food, pastry, candy and the wine and beer you’ll consume or buy as gifts.

With all of those holiday trappings, you can see where the revenue priority lies for the stores. Retailers count on the Christmas holidays for almost 20% of their annual revenue. Christmas decorations alone account for $9 billion – that’s a lot of tinsel!

If you’re on a tight budget, you might be able to hide from Halloween (just turn off the lights and no one will even know you’re home). But how do you avoid Christmas? You can’t. So the stores are going to ram Christmas down your throat. By Veteran’s Day, you are going to be Christmased out.

Many people are struggling with their finances day-to-day; they’re burdened with credit card debt, high gasoline prices, increased food prices, and fear of losing their job with the ever-worsening liquidity crunch. So, what the marketing people are hoping is that you will be anxious, even desperate, for some glad tidings and great joy. You will be so ready for a little Christmas cheer that you’ll merrily open up your wallet and buy, buy, buy.

The real question is can you avoid the trappings and the message brought on with Christmas creeping in already? Yes, you can. But it’s going to take some willpower on your part. Remember, as you walk through the department store and hear Gene Autry regale you with Here Comes Santa Clause, you are being manipulated. Big time. That’s not very nice, but it’s all legal. It’s called marketing.

Don’t fall for it. Indulge your inner Scrooge. Say “Bah! Humbug!” when confronted with seasonal marketing displays. And keep your wallet and your credit cards firmly tucked away out of sight. What you should keep in sight is what’s really important about Christmas – your faith, your family and your friends. Christmas is not about gifts and decorations. If you can keep your merry-making to a minimum, then you are well on your way to a Happy (and, well, if not quite “prosperous,” at least no worse) New Year -- the whole year -- not just the single day’s worth.

--Debt Diva

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