By Dr. Boyce Watkins
Of course no one wants to go broke over the holidays, but a lot of people do. Part of the reason that your bank account is in jeopardy is because Corporate America OWNS you. They create holidays where you are practically obligated to go out and spend money, and they have people lining up for Black Friday sales like they’re giving away life-saving medication.
When I recently spoke at the New Paradigm Forum in Washington DC, one thing I encouraged people to do is get away from an addiction to consumerism. Your money is your power, and Black people love to give their power away. It would be different if we had a ton of power to begin with, but the fact is that we are already broke as it is, at least relative to the massive amounts of wealth controlled by White America.
So, here are a few tips to help you get through the holiday season. For fun, I’ll try a little reverse psychologically so you’ll know the exact opposite of what you want to do in order to remain financially stable. These thoughts don’t just come from the 20 years I’ve spent as a Finance Professor; they also come from my grandmother Felicia, who was my first finance professor.
So, if you want to go broke over the holidays, here are a few things you can do:
1) Whip out the credit card at every available opportunity: Credit cards are free money, right? Companies love to make it easy for you to spend so you can part ways with your money in a smooth and easy fashion. Consumer credit is one of the quickest ways for Americans to get into financial trouble, and this trouble typically occurs over Christmas, on vacations, during weddings and all the other times when we are expected to spend like we’re crazy. Try having an all-cash Christmas, it might make you feel better.
2) Buy gifts for everyone, even people you barely know: Maybe the people you don’t know so well can get a card instead, or at least a gift that doesn’t break the bank? Also, you can give great gifts that don’t cost anything. For example, I’ve given my relatives copies of old home movies that I made back in the 90s. You can’t buy that in the store.
3) Buy things you don’t need just because they are on sale and the Black Friday commercials are telling you do so: Understand that, to corporate America, you’re a rat in a lab. They study you, analyze you and learn all they can about you so they can get you at your weakest and most vulnerable moment. They are hunting you down like a frat boy chasing women on a Saturday night. Don’t fall for the hype – it’s OK to spend Black Friday doing something other than begging a company to take all your money.
4) Don’t budget what you spend, just “get crunk” with it: Wait, is that Lil Jon reference dated? Well, at least I didn’t say “Get jiggy” with it. The point here is that budgeting might help you keep track of your money so that you don’t go overboard. It’s no different from watching what you eat. The holidays are a time when people are merry and financially drunk. Don’t spend while you’re under the influence.
5) Get your kids whatever they want: Spoiling our kids has become a national past-time. Maybe it’s not OK to not buy them whatever they want, since you could be setting unrealistically high expectations for what they need to do with their kids. Whether you’re talking about food or human beings, no one likes something that has been spoiled.
6) Remember that Christmas is a purely materialistic holiday: We know the story – Jesus was born at the mall and the purpose of Christmas is to show your love by spending all of your money on things that won’t last six months. Yea right. Or, maybe we can consider the true meaning of Christmas and realize that you don’t need money in order to respect those you love.
Dr. Boyce Watkins is the founder of the Your Black World Coalition and author of the book, “Black American Money”. To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.