My philosophy on Christmas and gift-giving is one that fits the true meaning of the holiday. If you're sick of consumerism, it might be the one for you!

My Philosophy on Christmas & Gift-Giving

My philosophy on Christmas and gift-giving is one that fits the true meaning of the holiday. If you're sick of consumerism, it might be the one for you!Christmas is near, and although I’ve shared my thoughts on the holiday and gift-giving on other sites, I haven’t really shared them here.

I wouldn’t consider myself a grinch, but I don’t enjoy Christmas for what it’s become. People are obsessed with buying the best presents and tend to forget why they’re giving them in the first place.

It’s sad that consumerism has taken most of the meaning away from holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was over it the second I heard a radio advertisement refer to it as a “Thanksavings sale.” Please.

As a result, I’ve found myself pushing back against this idea that the holidays need to revolve around shopping and spending and possibly going into debt.

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Being Happy With Less

Yesterday was my birthday, and I only thought it fitting to reflect on what that means. For some, it means looking forward to being pampered and showered with presents. For others, it means spending time with loved ones. And still for some, it means absolutely nothing!

being happy with lessFrom a young age, many of us are “taught” that birthdays + holidays = gifts. We look forward to these occasions, wondering what goodies we’ll get.

But as time has gone on, I find myself coming up empty when people ask me what I want.

Usually, it’s something practical that I need anyway (like a kitchen tool), or it’s just money.

Boring! I know. But I don’t find myself looking forward to birthdays and holidays because of the spoils anymore. It’s been that way for several years now.

I’ve come to realize that being happy with less is becoming second nature to me.

Do you truly need everything you own?

Last week, I posed the question: what’s the most expensive item you own? (Sans cars and houses.)

Many of you answered similarly to me: technology (laptops/computers), and your beds.

You could argue these two things are necessary in this day and age. Most of us need something to sleep on, and most of us like using our computers to connect with others in some way. No surprises there.

I went a little further and figured my collection of clothes and makeup have cost me a pretty penny over the years. A lot of people have made the argument that small things really do add up, and I would agree.

I know many of you are of a frugal mindset, but still had purchases totaling a thousand dollars, or more. I don’t think ONE purchase is a good barometer of how frugal we are. One large purchase is such a small sample of our actual buying habits.

Instead, look around you. How many things do you own? Do you find yourself wanting more? Why not try being happy with less first?

Honestly, if I was forced to live at a bare-minimum for a few months, I know I could do without a lot of things I own. I could easily cut my wardrobe in half, for one. I could stop holding onto some stuff I’ve acquired over the years that haven’t been used in a while. I could let go of some of the more sentimental things that I keep because of the memories attached to them.

What really matters to you?

At the end of the day, my priorities are as follows:

  • My family (including my cats) and friends
  • Freedom (financial and otherwise)
  • Happiness

I value all of these highly, and I try to find a way to make my goals and purchases align with each. It can get a little tricky at times, but by having these things in mind, I’ve been buying less and less “stuff.” Because of that, everything I bring into our apartment is carefully thought out, and I avoid buying unnecessary things. Less waste is always a good thing!

Liz over at Budgeting for More had compiled a little list of her simple frugal pleasures a few weeks ago, and I really think the spirit of this post is one we can all benefit from. I have my own little series that I need to continue, with free activities that I enjoy.

I couldn’t agree more with Liz. I know I personally love taking naps on the weekend. Treasuring the moments when I get to see family. Watching my cats go crazy. Chilling out with friends. Cuddling with R. Going for a walk. Listening to music.

All of these things are free. Completely and utterly free. You don’t have to spend a cent to enjoy these simple, yet fulfilling, things. Things that make me happy and coincidentally, help me on my path toward financial independence.

I’m really learning to find happiness in the small things. The best part is that it’s liberating. Simply not wanting anything is freeing.

My grandma happens to love watching game shows, and as such, I’ve been watching them with her this week. There were several cars being given away on most of these shows. Of course, contestants were going crazy. “Yeah, give me the car!!”

Is it sad to say if I were on that show, I would be more excited about the money? I’m fine with my car, thanks. A “home office” was also being given away – well, I don’t need a new one. None of these prizes, except the vacations, were exciting me.

Obviously, I’m quite the proponent of valuing experiences over material things. I think a lot of you agree with that. If only we could get the rest of the population to see how much better life would be if they gave up on their pursuit of new stuff in lieu of experiencing all life has to offer. And no, I don’t mean the experience of driving a new car, because that newness wears off.

Try taking a new outlook on life where you learn to seek out the little things in life and find happiness in them. Most of us are just too consumed by our day-to-day happenings that we forget to stop and pause on our journey and just breathe.

Are you being happy with less, or are you still trying to figure out what you should and shouldn’t be purchasing? What truly makes you happy in life?

why not cut TV

Forget Cutting Cable, Why Not Cut TV?

Many PF bloggers are strong proponents of cutting cable in favor of saving thousands a year. Most packages (phone+internet+TV) seem to run around $130-$150 (in my experience). That’s around $1,700 a year.

After cutting cable, though, most people resort to other alternatives, such as Hulu, Netflix, or Amazon Prime.

What if you didn’t? What if you decided to cut the cord from television entirely?

I was reading the profile of a couple that had a room listed on Airbnb a few days ago. In the profile, they warned potential guests that they do not have a television in the house, citing the reasons that they don’t enjoy it much, and are too busy to watch it.

That got me thinking …

why not cut TV

Why Not Cut TV?

The New York Daily News came out with information that the average American spends 5 hours a day watching TV. The typical person gets home from work around 5:30/6. If they plopped down on the couch for 5 hours, and ate dinner while watching TV, that leads them to 10:30/11. Then it’s bed time, but it’s likely that many are glued to the TV for hours after that.

That’s 25 hours a week – you could have worked a part-time job (or worked on a side hustle) in that amount of time!

Ask yourself how many hours a day, on average, you spend watching TV. Then look at the article and compare yourself to the demographic you’re in. Did you really think you spent that many hours in front of the screen?

Is any of this really surprising though? So many of us watch TV as our prime source of entertainment, especially when it comes to sports. TV shows (mostly reality) can be an escape from our own lives. We mindlessly watch some really stupid crap on TV to unwind from a day of hard work.

If you look at the break down from the article, it only gets worse with age, and I have witnessed this. Even though my grandma is very active for her age, if she’s got nothing planned for the day, you’ll find her in the den, watching TV.

What’s worse is that she’ll leave it on, and turn on the TV in her kitchen when she goes in there. It kills me!

My parents are not any better. They often leave the TV on as background noise. They’re not even paying attention to it.

Why do we do this?

Is watching TV a waste of time?

My annoyance with TV comes from the fact that my boyfriend is a chronic channel surfer. He will come home and immediately turn on the TV, and start looking through the channels. This lasts at least a half hour or more, before he finally finds something to settle on.

I am 100% sure we could be finding something way more productive to be doing than saying, “Well, this looks to be the most promising program right now!”

It wastes so much time. I truly don’t get the point of going through every available channel again and again.

It was different at our last apartment, when we had an awesome package (included in rent). We could catch some movies we never saw, and we didn’t want for channels at all.

Now, we have a very basic package which comes included in our rent, but I could really do without it. Most of the channels don’t display well, we have no channel guide whatsoever so it’s even more annoying to find things on TV, and the selection is awful.

I remarked the other day to R that while I’m home all day, never does the TV get turned on. I honestly think R has become a victim of habit. He dormed at college, and got used to sitting around the TV with everyone, trying to find something to watch. He often did this at home, too, when he just wanted to relax, and ended up falling asleep.

I know a lot of people do it for that reason – TV is definitely associated with relaxing. But R has gotten into reading, and it always amuses me when he says he doesn’t have time for it. When we’ve tried to have dinner eating at the island, I couldn’t help but notice R was seriously restless. He’s too used to having something to watch while eating!

My personal take

I couldn’t care less if we had cable or not, and that is the honest truth. Like the AirBnB couple I mentioned at the beginning, I’ve never had any interest in TV. I was more into books. When I was younger, I would take reading over watching movies or TV.

It wasn’t until I was in college that I actually started having “favorite shows,” but it wouldn’t devastate me if I had to miss episodes. Life goes on.

Like some people are addicted to social media, or following celebrity gossip, others are completely obsessed with their favorite shows. I never got it. I’m also not obsessed with sports, so I can’t vouch for that either, though I know a few of you who are!

I just can’t help but think that if we didn’t have TV at all, that we might have a bit more quality time together, or some more time to be productive. I know the channel surfing could be solved by switching to Hulu/Netflix, but I see R just flicking through shows on there, too.

I thought this would be an interesting topic to discuss instead of focusing on cutting cable. Food for thought. I’m certainly not advocating that we all go and take our TV’s and throw them out the window =). I’m wondering if we should reflect more on why we seem to value TV.

Let’s talk about our TV habits! Am I in the super minority of people who don’t really care about TV? How many televisions do you have? What if sports weren’t an issue? How many hours do you spend watching TV?