If you would have asked me how I felt about shopping around the holidays two years ago, I would have told you that it’s my favourite time of the year. Being an international student here, this whole phenomenon of holiday sales was new to me but very magnetic. Back home, we didn’t have all the brands or stores, so being here was like having everything I dreamt about. It was a very naive outlook but after spending time here and being in the centre of the chaos, I’ve come to realize how much this toxicity is seen as acceptable.
I want to discuss the people indulging in these “once a year” events and why are they so compelled only at this time of the year. The first time I shopped on Black Friday was for two reasons: the first being that I had only heard about it online and never witnessed it. The second was that I really wanted to buy things because everyone around me was and it felt cool to do the same. Incredibly cringe worthy and very unforgettable. But you see, sometimes you have to experience something for yourself and once the high is over, you will realize that it was all smoke and mirrors.
This year, I observed two different types of people who shop during these holiday sales. The first type was basically people who were incredibly naive and very impressionable. The second type of people are not necessarily new to this phenomena but they are completely bewitched by it. The guy doesn’t need another blue sweater or the girl doesn’t need another new pair of sneakers but still, they both can’t help it. It’s on sale and they might not get another chance. This mentality is very common, which is alarming. Being in Montreal and going Downtown during this time of the year, the demographic that I see is usually students.
Now if you think about it, students are not financially secure; they might get money from their parents or part-time jobs, but all of this is spent so quickly and thoughtlessly. There is no foresight to this behaviour other than the attention-grabbing marketing they fall for. Discussing and learning about money management is urgently needed.
Money management is not only about saving money for the future but also how and when you should be spending it too. I understand how individuals are compelled to buy but believe me, if you actually separate yourself from the crowd and just observe them, you might just realize how delusional and naive people are to fall into some of these marketing tactics. Not only that, because it’s the holiday, everyone is out buying gifts and I understand the added pressure that creates. Recently I was talking to a friend who said she had to buy gifts for all her friends but that she’s on the verge of being “broke”.
All this pressure, the pressure of the holidays, the pressure of these deals, marketing is pushing you to feel that way. That is the problem, once you are insecure, it doesn’t take a lot to sway you to spend that extra money and dip into credit.
To conclude, I’m not telling you to stop buying completely. That’s a very unrealistic idea. Instead, try to learn why you feel the need to buy and know the difference between what are the things you need and want to buy. Calculate. Look at what you already have. Unsubscribe from all the promotional e-mails. Discuss life and people, not what you have to buy, have bought or are buying. Focus on the here and now. These may be baby steps, but they are guaranteed to lead to a healthier bank account.