We've listened to the soundtrack to The Greatest Showman countless times in my house (or, as my music app tells me: around 30), and the chorus of this song — "Never Enough" — keeps ringing through my head.
The song itself is about love (ie. without you, all the amazing things in the world will never be enough), but as we head into the busiest shopping season of the year, I feel like "Never Enough" is the battle cry of retail marketing.
I’ve used this line before, but it deserves repeating, because things that are $20 and under are so. easy. to. buy. They are like the silent killer of your bank account or credit card bill, IF you’re not paying attention.
Photo: Whipping Post
I ran a booth once for dignify at a big Christmas market, and right across from us was a candle seller. Here I was, with these beautiful, hand-crafted items that were colorful and rich with an amazing story behind them. “People online love our blankets!” I thought to myself. “So many people purchase them as gifts; selling them here is going to be fun & easy!”
While I was setting up our booth, I glanced over at the candle shop. Jars of candles. Candles shaped like a banana loaf with 3 wicks. No special scent. No interesting story. Just simple, $15 candles. “Will people buy these things?” I wondered.
The answer, it became clear, was a resounding YES.
The way I think about money & spending has been impacted by numerous thinkers, ideas, research, as well as (largely) my own personal experiences. Here are two ideas that have challenged me over the years:
About 2/3 of Americans & Canadians own a smartphone, and in this crowd, I know that number is much higher. I am one of them, of course, and I am very thankful for the little computer in my pocket. It allows me to work on the fly, take photos for business & pleasure, and do a zillion other wonderful things (like call my mom).
The oppression of these devices is a well-trodden path, but regardless of how many convicting videos you watch, it’s much easier philosophized than done when it comes to cutting the chain between us & our phones.
This past year, I have experimented with limiting the notifications on my phone, and I can tell you that has been a huge, healthy step in the right direction!
In our Reader Survey a couple of months back, we received some excellent suggestions about blog posts related to the holidays:
Tough one! And, what a great question.
Managing expectations with gift-giving & -receiving, limiting “stuff” without raining on the parade, being gracious and thankful… these are all big challenges of the season!
There are some clear challenges out of the gate:
So, with that in mind, and an opportune time approaching, how do you talk about this???
I’m trying to try something new. Yes, “trying to try”: I know it sounds very passive, and, yes, maybe a little pathetic.
But this is real life, folks, and this is a difficult challenge! Trying to try is about as much as I can commit to in front of all of you friends & the internet.
We all have points cards, right? A credit card, a frequent shopper card, a reward bonus for Best Buy or the bookstore. Even large grocery chains have moved to this model, after realizing that their old version (where you have to sacrifice your personal & shopping information to gain access to the real price of a jar of tomato sauce) was obnoxious, and probably a bit unethical.
But, as these programs have become more of the norm, I have wondered how much I feel like these bonuses are no longer bonuses, but expected, even owed to me. Like my daughter, who, upon returning from trick-or-treating and dumping out her candy, exclaimed, “Look at all of these treats I’ve earned!”
In the past week, I’ve read three unique posts critiquing the Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child shoebox campaign. This is the charity drive that collects (in North America, Australia, NZ, UK, Finland, Germany, Spain, Japan) shoeboxes full of gifts to be sent to children in ~100 developing countries in the world.
I don’t have any “skin in the game”, so to speak; I don’t have any emotional connection or long-standing history with this practice or this type of charity. No, if I’m 100% honest, my best intentions usually fall by the wayside and I miss the shoebox cutoff because it is such a busy time of year for me!
But, something about the critique (or in some cases, lambasting) has piqued my interest; I’ve been thinking about it for days and I still don’t know entirely what I think. The deep cynicism (in some cases) irks me, as does the “throw the baby out with the bathwater” response. However, there are also some very compelling points.
Mostly, what I’ve really craved is conversation about the topic. It’s been documented that I think being thoughtful about what we do and how we spend our money is fantastic! I am a big believer in engagement and consideration and small steps and not just doing things because that’s how we’ve done them.
Since I’m not entirely sure of my stance and I want to promote good discussion, here are some conversation points that may be good starting (or continuing) places for you to engage, as well.
Today marks the return of the official harbinger of fall. No, not changing leaves. Not back-to-school. Not college move-ins or football or sweater weather. I’m talking about the PSL!
In case you don’t live around the corner from one of North America’s ~13,000 locations, Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte is the brand’s wildly popular seasonal indulgence. It is their best-selling seasonal menu item ever and it boasts its own social media accounts (instagram, twitter), a couple hashtags (#psl #psllove), and a fanatical tribe of PSL devotees.
Last year, there was some major online hoopla that began with the food babe over PSL’s supposedly shady ingredients. Toxins! Sugar! Color! Not Real Pumpkin!
Personally, I am neither a devotee nor a hater. I do go to Starbucks sometimes and I am a member of their points "club", but I mostly make coffee at home. I do like healthy food and avoiding weird stuff, but I am highly wary of the food babe and her over-the-top fear-mongering. So, I don't really have any skin in the game, but I think that there's something interesting here worth exploring.
This year, Starbucks changed its ingredients to exclude caramel colouring and include real pumpkin. Whether you love or loathe the PSL, or whether you think the food babe is a saviour or a lunatic, what can we glean from the tale of the PSL?
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