Free shipping with a $50 dollar purchase. My daughter was $18 short for free shipping. She found the perfect glass jars she needed for her farmers market spices and needed nothing else. As it turned out, I needed yarn for two blankets I was working on and one of them needed $23 worth of yarn. It was a perfect solution to achieving the winning level of free shipping. Shortly after I sent her the link to my finish the blanket four skeins of soft burgundy yarn, I realized that all yarn was 30% off.

It was too late. The order was in and now I was $25 shy of…. free shipping. I racked my brain trying to think of what else I could possibly need that would get ME to that six dollars in savings.

Nothing. I needed nothing. As I scanned through the departments of the online version of the store, I saw many, many things that caught my eye. Then I thought of the many, many things living in my basement. So, I thought about what I could get for Christmas gifts. I’m going to get some anyways right? Again, many, many things that caught my eye. So many things that are lovely to look at, get used maybe once a year, and, I had to be honest, will probably get buried in a big plastic tote somewhere in someone else’s basement. The gimmick almost got me. That’s what gimmick’s do, it’s the whole point!

Gimmick- noun

an ingenious or novel device, scheme, or stratagem, especially one designed to attract attention or increase appeal.

a concealed, usually devious aspect or feature of something, as a plan or deal: An offer that good must have a gimmick in it somewhere. ~Dictionary.com

The consumerism machine relies on us all giving into that well-crafted marketing that hits us at our most primal levels to buy things we don’t need. Fear of danger sells security systems, vehicles, weapons, and even politicians. Fear of societal inadequacies sell just about everything else from weight loss products, to lawn equipment to fake eyelashes. Then…. once they get you to toss all those unnecessary products into your cart, virtual or real, the bait is set to squeeze out yet another couple bucks.

Spend $20 get a $5 gift card. These usually expire within weeks, and once you decide to use them you’ll likely spend even more feeling as if you’re essentially getting $5 off whatever you’re buying, even though there’s a good chance you spent more than $5 to qualify for the gift card in the first place.

Buy two, get one half off. You only wanted one pair of pants, but heck, why not two? And, geez, half off the third? Leaves you feeling like you got a little something for nothing doesn’t it?

Or how about after ten trips to the gas pump you get a free fountain drink? Now you’ll go out of your way to use one particular gas station ten times, get your free drink, and grab a candy bar and a pack of gum while waiting your turn to start sipping away.

Oh, and don’t forget the so ridiculously confusing deals you end up spending half a week’s grocery budget on a few items that purchasing just one at the normal price would cost about as much as a latte. But 6 for $24 or buy 3 at regular price get 2 free makes you feel like you’re getting one heck of a deal! Even if in the end, you’re only saving a little change on each one.

Now that the holidays are upon us, many stores are focusing on Black Friday type incentives to draw you in, and draw you in often, for over a month. Some even offering CRAZY DEALS every day. Just like the in-store 4 a.m. madness, where you run through the store like it’s a timed game show grabbing everything you can find on your list while also preparing to win an obstacle course.  You still end up with a handful of items that will leave you wondering…. why? The online gimmicks will be just as tempting as the silver reindeer-caramel-mocha- peppermint-gingerbread candle at the endcap next to the $2 bath towels that you will buy, because they are $2.

Here are a few facts for thought from Fortune.com:

*$13 BILLION is spent yearly on unwanted gifts in the United States

*56% of Americans get at least one gift they don’t want

Put on your Keep it Simple, Keep it Real armor. Don’t buy just to buy. Find or make something meaningful and or useful. If you do buy, try to get that item from a local business first. If you can’t, and you have to buy from a you know what online; don’t fall for the gimmicks. Oh yeah, speaking of free shipping….

I still do need that yarn. This is absolutely the most math heavy blog I’ve ever written, so here’s the final equation.

I need six skeins of yarn at $4.50 a skein.

Regular price      $27 + $6 shipping= $33

30% off             $18.90 + $6.00 shipping = $24.90

Either price      Free shipping plus $23 – $25 worth of stuff no one wants

Be strong my friends. Save money, keep junk out of landfills and basements, and most of all….

Have Yourselves the Most Meaningful Holiday Season Ever!!

Audrey L Elder Meaningful Living