Message from the CEO: The Best Offer in Your Inbox
Hello FinGym Family!
I’m sure all of your inboxes are flooded with holiday deals and the multitude of ways you can spend your hard earned money on stuff; and I want to make sure that you receive what I feel is the best offer in your inbox, and that’s the offer to NOT spend your money. I’m offering you the opportunity to say no to the deals and no to the traps and distractions of the holiday season we’re about to officially enter in a matter of hours. And I’m not offering this to you as a Grinch/Scrooge/Curmudgeon out to dampen your holiday spirit; I’m offering it to you as a reformed holiday spender who’s realized there so much more meaningful ways to spend your money.
Let me take you back to my youth…I grew up in a HUD house, in a blue collar town on Long Island, NY where I shared a bathroom with the other 6 members of my family. Our holidays were festive, but certainly meager. So much so, that I wrote one of my college applications about the realization that my family had no money growing up. So when I got my first investment-banking job out of college, I vowed to create a different life for myself. Trying to overcome what I felt was a childhood of deprivation; I took the alternative route to a life of indulgence. I spent thousands of dollars every holiday season trying to create perfect holiday memories; and all I really ended up with was credit card debt that could only be paid off with annual bonuses that hopefully arrived in February.
I look back and cringe at the $300 I spent at Michael’s buying turkey décor that got thrown out during one of my recent moves, or the $2,000 in gifts I spent on my now ex-husband the Christmas I was pregnant with Will when I should have been saving up for the baby on the way, or the year I “needed” 3 Christmas trees in my house because one just couldn’t suffice.
It was a vicious cycle of spending on stuff and paying down credit cards, until I found my purpose and started to build The Financial Gym. Giving up the six-figure paycheck meant that I had to give up the extravagant holiday celebrations and décor ultimately destined for a dumpster. It’s now been six years since I’ve made the conscious effort to pursue a financially healthy lifestyle so that I could build my dream; and I don’t have a single regret about all of the money I didn’t spend over the last six years.
Most of us don’t regret money we didn’t spend on stuff. From my experience, we regret saying no to experiences and time with our loved ones; and most of the time we can’t afford the experiences because we got caught up in the deals and offers to spend money on stuff that holds little value for us in the long run.
Before you get caught up in the crazy that’s about to ensue, I want you to take a moment and ask yourself “What am I working for?” It’s our slogan at the Financial Gym and I think a good question to ask before you spend your money. If spending money this holiday season brings you joy and it’s one of the reasons you get out of bed and make money every day, then by all means, have at it. If it’s not, then put some systems in place to save you and your bank account from making some big mistakes in the next few weeks.
If you need help setting some spending boundaries, here are a few suggestions:
Reach out to your family and ask if you can collectively spend less on each other this holiday season. Secret Santas, gift value limits like $20 or only buying for the kids in the family are great compromises.
Potlucks, Secret Santas, White Elephants, and Wine/Liquor Exchanges are all great and cheap friend traditions
Santa has a budget and your kids should know it. It’s his way of making sure his sleigh doesn’t get weighed down from too much stuff. From the time my son was 5, he found out Santa had a budget, so when he constructed his Christmas wish list from Santa, he had to find prices and make sure it all fit in Santa’s budget.
If all else fails, just tell people you don’t have the money. Who cares what they think of you? You may even have the money, but if you’d rather spend it on a trip to Italy, a new tattoo, a fur baby or the business you want to start, then you really don’t have the money for holiday spending because you’re saving it for what you truly value.
While you’re giving thanks and making memories with friends and loved ones this season, I hope you’ll take the time and reflect on your money and your values. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the sales, deals and Instagram ads convincing you of what you need for joy, but only you have the answer to that; and when you spend your money on what truly brings you joy, you won’t have a single regret or at least the holiday hangover of credit card debt and lower bank accounts won’t feel like such a burden in the new year.
I hope you have a very special holiday season! This year, I’m thankful for my 12-year old son, Will, my amazing team at The Financial Gym, my friends who keep me sane while building the Gym, my family who hasn’t received a gift from me in over 6 years and still loves me, my ex-husband who downsized his holidays along with me as I built the gym and finally you, our Financial Gym family. You are what I’m working for. Providing financial health and literacy in a world that desperately needs it keeps me motivated every single day.