Last Christmas I bought my wife of 26 years 2 gifts with a total price tag of $54.00. Now I know what you’re thinking, “This is the cheapest SOB in the history of ungrateful husbands!” Well, you’re wrong, sort of. I am cheap by most standards, but I wear it like a badge of honor. In this case specifically, it was about meaning and not flash or show. I bring this up because of the time of year. It’s coming. Unfortunately, it’s as predictable as a kid crying in a mall Santa’s lap. It’s the national ad campaigns designed to get you excited about spending your hard-earned money on some shimmering trinket that’ll make her fall in love with you all over again. I laugh at every commercial. All I’m saying is, they don’t care how she feels about you. They just want your money.
Anyhow, back to my Christmas gift wizardry. Most restaurants are now going to paper straws. It’s a great idea, because it cuts the use of plastic. The problem is they get soggy and fall apart. My wife hates this. I had to listen to her complain for months until I went online and found a thirty-seven piece set of metal straws of all sizes that come in their own convenient carrying sack. That was gift #1, and it was $8.99.
Now, like I said, we’ve been married 26 years, and in all that time my wife has always complained about being cold even when everyone around her isn’t. She’ll sit in a recliner and watch tv wearing a hoodie and covered in an electric blanket. So, for $44.99 I got her a Sherpa wearable blanket with sleeves and foot pockets. It’s plush, comfortable and wool. It’ll put you to sleep quickly. Even if the red one looks like something Henry the Eighth would wear in a painting. In the end, my wife smiles every time she gets her metal straw out or tucks her arms and feet inside the warm blanket. She says the best part was the thought put into the gifts, because they met her needs.
Sure, I told you this story to let you know how thoughtful and compassionate I am, but just as important is the point it makes about money. There are times you must drop $3000.00, $5000.00 or maybe more. Christmas, my friends, is not one of them. I’d like to give you some examples of how these companies come after you. Hey, I get excited every time I see a pizza commercial, but a pizza isn’t $3000.00. At least not yet. How many more years are we going to have to endure the commercials for these past, present, and future diamond necklaces and rings? I’ve never seen a more cunning way to sell you three diamonds instead of one. They could sell you four diamonds if they just added one more tense. “It’s the past, present, future, and way into the future four diamond necklace at Zales.” What makes me laugh the most is when every woman you see at work after Christmas is wearing the same damn piece of jewelry.
Let’s break the cost down into some practical financial advice: $3000.00 to $5000.00 cost for the BIG MAC of necklaces let’s say versus the following scenario:
$5000.00 put in a Roth IRA for 33 years at a 10% return amounts to over $1,300,000.00 tax free return on investment.
How about those ridiculous chocolate diamonds?
A jewelry company executive, “Hey, how can we get rid of these dull brown diamonds?” Advertising executive, “Let’s call them chocolate, because people will believe it.” $3000.00 later you have a ring of brown diamonds.
$3000.00 put in a Roth IRA for 33 years at a 10% return amounts to over $800,000.00.
Obviously, it’s not just jewelry. All the carmakers wrapping bows around their SUV’s and showing a couple coming out of their five million dollar home to argue over which one is theirs. Am I the only one sick of the “Lexus December to Remember event?” At least jewelry can go up in value. These people want you to drop $85,000.00 on a car that’ll be worth half that in 3 years.
$85,000.00 invested over 30 years at a 10% rate of return is over $1,400,000.00.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with companies trying to entice us into buying their products. They advertise, we buy, and it provides valuable jobs and keeps the world’s best economy going. I see a Popeye’s ad for a chicken sandwich, and I must have one, or two with fries. I’m hungry a lot! I get sucked in too.
Here’s the “Fire Yourself” message I’m trying to send. Instead of grand gestures at Christmas, try finding something meaningful and heartfelt to give your spouse that they’ll never forget. Think about the little things that annoy them and try to solve those problems, which ultimately help them live their “BEST LIFE”. It can be as simple as metal straws, thermal socks, comfortable shoes, warm slippers, an eye mask for sleeping or something as simple as a family portrait. Then, take the thousands you would’ve spent and invest in a Roth IRA or just open a brokerage account and buy a good large cap ETF (Exchange-traded Fund). Relying on getting Social Security 25 years or more from now is a real gamble. Plus, you don’t want the government in charge of your retirement, do you? I wouldn’t trust most of them to operate a lemonade stand.
Bottom line: we want you to achieve financial freedom, and this is a simple way to get the ball rolling. You can contribute up to $6000.00 per year to a Roth IRA. If that’s too much; start with $500.00, $1000.00, or whatever you can. JUST START!! Which in turn will “Fire” the old habits and create new habits that will ultimately lead you to a “Life You Love”!!
Love to all