Why to Resist the Urge to Buy This Holiday Season

This year, people are ready to spend more on gifts than the last. As Investopedia notes, the economy is still rebounding from the Great Recession — and screaming deals make folks vulnerable to impulse buys and overspending. A Gallup poll found that average U.S. shoppers estimated they’d spend $885 this holiday season.

Black Friday has come and gone, much like Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday and surely a host of more obscure days that promote shopping. However, most of us still likely have more items to check off our lists.

Maybe it’s time we reconsidered how much we want to invest in stuff this year. While some may still want to splurge on a thoughtful gift that pulls on the heartstrings of the receiver, most will probably give without much consideration. In 2013, the most popular Christmas gifts in the United States were gift cards. In the meantime, millions of dollars on them remain unclaimed.

We can do better than generic tokens of gratitude. Here are a few compelling reasons to start cutting down on our consumption for the holidays and into the New Year.

1. Consumerism Drags You Down

A 2012 study showed that those who put the focus on high status and wealth are more likely to be depressed. Focusing on material possessions can lead to social isolation, for one — but luckily that effect can be canceled out simply by cutting down on use of the possessions, like watching less TV.

Pass along feelings of connection to your loved ones this year by offering a gift that is less materialistic, such as an outing together centered around their favorite hobby.

2. Charities Need More Help

We give so many presents without much thought — a scented candle here, a fruitcake there and, of course, the infamous gift card. Why not channel that generous urge into the form of something that actually matters?

As s.e. smith recently suggested here on Care2, a small monthly contribution to a nonprofit in someone’s name can go a long way in helping them pursue their favorite cause all year long.

3. Consumption Encourages Unhealthy Competition

In our society, it’s easy to feel like we aren’t good enough, or that we need to buy more to measure up with others.

Last February, French economist Elisabeth Laville told Street Roots:

As soon as we start to consume beyond meeting our basic needs, the goal of consumption is to climb the social ladder. We consume to act like everyone else, to attain the same level our neighbors have, to resemble the role model suggested to us by advertising. However, this endless race for material happiness intensifies the feeling of frustration, because there will always be someone who has more goods than us.

Give others a break from the rat race, too, by focusing on doing good deeds with the same intensity you’d have while finding good deals. We are already good enough.

4. A Lot of Gifts Don’t Even End Up Getting Used

As USA Today notes, Americans spend $9.5 billion on unwanted gifts every year. Plus, a lot end up getting thrown away, amounting to an extra 1 million tons of waste.

All this for an activity that can feel literally as stressful as a marathon. When people shop, according to one study, they’re exhausted by the half-hour mark and their heart rates are high.

Let’s put our credit cards down and approach the holidays with fresher eyes.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Daniel N
Past Member about a month ago

thank you for posting

Louise A
Louise Aabout a month ago

thank you

Frances G
Frances G2 months ago

Thank you

Thomas M
Thomas M2 months ago

thanks for posting

Chad A
Chad A3 months ago

Thank you.

heather g
heather g3 months ago

Sounds awful....

Ruth S
Ruth S3 months ago


Ruth S
Ruth S3 months ago


Mely Lu
Mely Lu3 months ago


Latoya Brookins
Latoya Brookins3 months ago

*tries not to be a hoarder*