We’ve all seen the commercials and the magazines depicting the Perfect Holiday. The perfect place settings and wonderful home surroundings ensure that smiling kids and grandparents are having the time of their life. Without the celebratory trappings, the Holiday just won’t be right. Or will it?
Already we can see matching plates, glasses, napkins, table clothes, lanterns, pillows, cushions…. You name it – all in good old red, white and blue for July 4th. The color and décor, arranged just so, promise the perfect day. A new barbecue might be in order to help Dad flip burgers, hot dogs, and ribs on the grill perfectly. Don’t forget the baked beans! Off to the side you need refreshing buckets of frosted ice for the beer and sodas according to the drink companies. A sense of urgency starts mounting as the day gets closer. In a little road side stand, customers will get absolutely manic the Friday before the 4th of July – buying out fresh baked pies, strawberries and enough vegetables to feed half an army.
Commercial entities have managed to paint the perfect holiday – with all of their products in it. So let’s stop and take a breath for a second. What does the Holiday really stand for? If it’s July 4th, it appropriately represents Independence Day. We have our freedom as a country. Even if our home or picnic isn’t decked out to match perfectly according to the latest home magazine– we’re still free.
So if you’re getting caught up in someone else's perfect picture holiday, step back and breathe. Let the sense of urgency roll off your back and your money stay in your bank account. Exercise freedom of choice to just have a wonderful day with family and friends, with existing home trappings, burgers, and potluck dishes in mismatched colors. Fun and memorable moments come from people, not things.
Carrie Rattle is a Principal at BehavioralCents.com, a web site for women focused on the psychology of money behaviors. She has worked in the financial services industry for 20+ years and hopes to inspire women to better prepare themselves for financial independence.