FULL QUESTION: It's not even Halloween, but is it too early to start shopping for the holidays?
|Of course not! It's
never too early to start, although there's a huge difference between knowing
that, planning to do it, and actually doing it. I've always considered Halloween the start of what I call the "silly season," but if you go
into any store, it looks like it's already begun. Regardless, I think it's a good idea to get a
jumpstart (oh my, am I using a car analogy?) on holiday shopping, but also holiday survival techniques.
These days my holiday shopping list isn't nearly as long as it used to be because my girls are older and now prefer one or two carefully selected items (although figuring those out isn't always easy) vs. lots of "stuff" to unwrap. Although I still get them a few small "fun" things. But your question reminds me of the stress that comes with leaving things to the last minute and has inspired me to try to get my holiday shopping done early.
|Except for business gifts, which I traditionally order from Zabar's on Cyber Monday, I tend to buy
(and give) the gifts for the handful of people on my personal gift list during
the year when I find the perfect item.
But, to answer the question, and try not to sound like Scrooge, it will be a challenge to find things this holiday season – not just the latest "it" gift, but even Thanksgiving Day turkey and fixings. Between the global shipping crisis and labor shortages, stores are already struggling to stock their shelves (virtual and brick-and-mortar), plus many items will be significantly more expensive. And, probably fewer "real deals" on Black Friday.
In other words, shop early or risk disappointment.
I know you're not talking about the incredibly popular
Friday the 13th horror
, which, for the record, I'm not a fan of. Not because they scare me or I dislike all
the blood and gore, I'm just "old school" and prefer the classic horror movies like
Bela Lugosi as
and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein. Although Mel Brook's "Young Frankenstein" is a hilarious "classic"
and one of my all-time favorite movies.
But I digress. I'm not superstitious, so I don't believe Friday the 13th is an unlucky day. Interestingly, our grandmother thought that the number 13 was very lucky, so Friday the 13th was a particularly good day for her. What I will say is that I've always been interested in parapsychology (keep in mind that I'm "older", so this was before all the TV shows about ghost sightings that now pose as "reality TV"), although I feel that I should draw a distinction between the scientific study of paranormal activity and a belief in superstitions.
Actually, there is
science and logic related to superstitions, and I can see how superstitions
can give people a feeling of being in control, which in turn helps them cope
with anxiety and uncertainty. Obviously,
it is a function of whether you believe something good will happen or something
bad, and ultimately it can become a
self-fulfilling prophecy. Friday
the 13th is a good example, as whether you think it is unlucky or
lucky, you will look for "supporting evidence."
(I find it neither, but was intrigued by how many times it happens each
year and other
That does not mean I do not believe in other superstitions, but I do not try to defend them. Sometimes it is a nice break from being pragmatic, and I figure there is little to lose and maybe something to gain. And I am not alone when it comes to superstitions – there are superstitious athletes, like Michael Jordan, who wore his North Carolina practice shorts under his NBA uniform for good luck, and even superstitious scientists.
I admit I‘d
never heard of The Make-A-Wish
Foundation before I was almost 40 (I lived abroad until then), and it
was Black’s involvement with this life-changing organization that led me to
learn about it. Growing up, charity
wasn’t a big part of our life, although I learned decades later that my
grandmother was involved in Fight
Once I was living in the same city as Black, I could see how important Make-A-Wish was to her (there was Wish kids’ artwork in her house and logos on her racecar). I also saw how it makes such a difference in the lives of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses. And how the power of a wish impacts not only the Wish kid but their families and even strangers, as so many of the wishes bring together neighbors and communities. But the best part may have been as I watched as my daughters learned about charity and became involved by having lemonade sales with all proceeds going to our local Make-A-Wish chapter (find your local chapter).
I have been involved with Make-A-Wish for decades and have
seen firsthand how it has touched
so many lives, starting with Tommy Austin, who granted the first wish in 1980. However, it has done more for me than I can
ever do for it. As once you see the hope,
joy, and optimism of a Wish child waging a courageous battle, you want to help in whatever way you can
(donate, volunteer, fundraise). It
reminds me that my problems or frustrations are minuscule in the scheme of things. It is my “reality check” on life.
And, although once a year we celebrate World Wish Day (April 29 to mark the anniversary of the first wish), every day is the perfect day to celebrate the power of a wish and the ripple effect it creates.
So, what better day than today to make a difference by making a donation?!
I have to
laugh because I’ve had to overcome my mental roadblocks (and natural tendency
to freak out) when it comes to personal
finance and technology,
so I can’t imagine combining the two concepts. However, I know it’s the terminology (and my resistance to change) that creates a lot of my problems. |
When it comes to financial apps, I don’t know much about them because I don’t use them. I’m old-fashioned and still use Microsoft Money (which I don’t even think is made anymore) to print my checks and a calculator, paper, and pens (Black’s probably rolling her eyes that I don’t at least use pencils and erasers) to do everything else. My daughters (ages 19 and 23) use Excel spreadsheets for their budgets, which I find interesting as although they’ve grown up with smartphones, neither one uses financial apps.
Similar to list-making, where I explained to Red that it does
not matter whether you use pencils
or a computer (or, in this case, an app), it is the thought process, not
the method, that is critical. The fact
you are interested in managing
your finances is an important first step, and if you WANT an app because
you think it will provide better motivation and give you more insight, great,
but you do not NEED it. Remember, only
you can decide whether to make an expenditure, and the difference between a “need”
and a “want” (although an app may prompt that question) as they are different
for everyone. (FYI, I do not use an app
as I refuse to give anyone online access to my financial accounts.)
Different apps have different features and functionality (such as tracking where your money is going, budgeting, paying bills, paying off debt, investments, etc.). And, they come with different price tags (apps from banks are typically free, but if you change banks, your financial history probably will not transfer), which are usually quoted on a monthly basis with the intent of making it look cheaper, but you need to consider the annual cost. If you are not sure exactly what you want, maybe start with a free version to “test drive” it and then decide if you want to upgrade (or do it without an app.)