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Hey, guys. It's Chelsea from The Financial Diet, and this week's video is brought to you by our own Society at TFD. If you haven't joined yet, there is so much that you're missing. We have our monthly office hours with me where you get to ask me anything you want. We have our monthly book club hosted by my colleague, Holly, where society members themselves choose the book they want and then we all discuss it together. We have tons of other stuff too, but perhaps most important is our monthly members-only bonus video, which comes out one Tuesday every month in place of the video that's free for everyone. And here's just one little clip from a popular recent members only video. Both hustle culture, generally, but also the personal finance media bubble have been a bit of a breeding ground over the past 10 years for advice that isn't just bad on a technical level but also profoundly damaging to us on a personal level. And these range from day-to-day sort of productivity habits to long term investment advice. So because we've got a fair amount to get into, let's dive into six pieces of success advice that are actually terrible for you. So if you haven't joined, hit that Join button right below this video, and we'll see you at The Society at TFD. And we are heading into what is probably for most of us one of the most potentially toxic spending seasons of the year, which is the holiday season. And don't get me wrong. As someone who both loves the holidays and also is a person whose love language for others is gift giving, I am in no position to [MUTED] on the idea of giving other people meaningful gifts that express your love and bring the two of you closer and bring you both joy. But I'm also aware that this is a time of year that encourages extremely mindless wasteful spending. According to Gallup, average Americans plan to spend $942 each on holiday gifts in 2019, and in that same year, Americans also spent $227.26 on non-gift holiday items, such as decorations. And so much of our holiday spending goes to things that end up becoming waste, like excess packaging, wrapping paper, food-related waste, et cetera. In fact, a new survey of 2000 Americans who celebrate a winter holiday finds respondents estimate that they average 43% more waste during this festive season. This adds up to about 29 pounds of trash per week, with the biggest holiday offender being wrapping paper, with gift bags following closely behind. And while, again, I am not here to tell you that some thoughtful gift giving should not be part of your holiday season- it always will be for me- I am here to remind you as your resident mindful spending queen that you can give and receive gifts in an amazing way without indulging in all of the waste. So without further ado, here are 13 holiday products that are never worth the money.

Number 1 is cheap matching PJ sets. And I'm really coming for some members of my own family with this point, but it is something worth noting. So even as someone who's embracing a child-free lifestyle, I am very aware of the allure and sometimes the sentimental value of having everyone wearing that matching PJ set for the Christmas photos or whatever holiday it is you celebrate. I am 33 years old, and I am still expected to march down those stairs wearing my little reindeer-covered, flannel top and bottom. Sometimes, it even say things like, "I survived the multiple family names, Christmas, whatever year." I've done it all. But that being said, usually these PJ sets and lounge sets are not of the highest quality because you're having to purchase a lot of them. And they're usually themed enough that most people aren't going to be able to wear them in their regular day-to-day lives. So if you're absolutely hellbent on everyone being perfectly identical, I would recommend at least buying sets that are wearable year-round and not so heavily holiday themed, or in my opinion, an even better idea, send the group an email ahead of time with a dress code for the family photos using items they already own. I seriously hope my immediate family isn't watching this, I love you guys, and I love all of my Grinch-themed pajama pants that I have. [LAUGHTER]

OK. Number 2 is free gift with purchase. So free gifts with a minimum spend at a certain store or brand can be very tempting. And I myself have fallen prey to it many times at places like the Estee Lauder counter. Because that [MUTE] can make a good foundation. But spending more to get a free thing is an incredibly ass backwards way of doing your shopping. Buying is a decision making process that differs from other human decisions. In other words, it is ruled by emotion. We are strongly motivated to do what makes us feel good and avoid what makes us feel bad. And a free gift of any kind makes us feel good, and we prefer transactions having that effect. And feeling good motivates impulsive shopping. Habitual patrons of discount stores find themselves filling a cart with inexpensive items that they had not needed but bought anyway because the bargains seem too good to pass up.

And the same is true of spending more to meet a minimum for free shipping. If shipping is $10 unless you spend $50 or more, you're not saving 10, you're netting a $40 higher spend.

And lastly, free gifts are usually sample-sized items that you don't really need and likely won't use, which brings us to a similar point, which is skincare/beauty advent calendars. So just a moment of real talk here. Who is actually buying a 25 item beauty or cosmetic advent calendar and actually getting great use out of every single one of the 25 items? Because not me and my rosacea riddled sensitive skin. Now these calendars can be gorgeously designed and often they are worth "well more than their list price based on the prices of items inside. " The Liberty Department Store annual beauty advent calendar is a cult favorite, listing 20 full-sized and 10 mini items for $320, which comes out to less than $11 an item. But again, you're not saving money on what you'd spend on those items full price unless you were actually planning to spend money on each one of those items individually. And I bet that you weren't. And if you say you were, you're a liar.

But when it comes to deceiving ourselves into spending more for less, there comes number 4, fake holiday markdowns. So these are rampant on Amazon and other major online retailers, especially around Black Friday or Cyber Monday. You'll see that a nonstick pan is listed at 70% off, which seems like an amazing deal, but then you'll notice that the original price is marked as $150 when you could find that same brand elsewhere for $30. That is a fake deal and a scam and surprisingly common. Just because an item appears to be marked down on its Amazon listing doesn't mean you're necessarily getting a good deal. As one article in Mashable put it, prices can fluctuate dramatically throughout the year, and companies sometimes mark up an item only to then listed as on sale soon after. So before falling prey to any faux sale, make sure to actually do your research and verify that the original price isn't marked up to begin with.

Number 5 is full price holiday decor. So as a rule, seasonal anything, but especially things like seasonal decor, are going to be way cheaper right after that holiday or season ends. For instance, target's Christmas section is 70% to 90% off starting on December 29. Now of course, you shouldn't be out here just buying a bunch of cheap holiday decor just to have it. But if you did want to buy some decor items, it is imperative that you do so after the holiday is over. Make do with what you have for this coming holiday because otherwise, you are going to be spending, oftentimes, literally 90% more than you need to be spending for the same thing which will very much be applicable for next year's holidays.

But on that note, number 6 is one time use holiday decorations, which as a formerly broke 20-something used to be very much a go-to for my holiday decor, and now I no longer do it all. Purchasing disposable wasteful decorations is not just a waste of money. It's also terrible for the environment. And for example, rather than buying some sparkly plastic garland, there are plenty of equally budget friendly and sustainable ways to make your home feel festive for the holidays like, for example, dehydrating some citrus wheels and making them into a lovely garland or using cranberries or popcorn or any of the old school ways that people use to decorate their homes before it was easy to get Amazon to drop a bunch of plastic at your door on a day's notice. But if you are going to insist on doing one time use stuff, at least try to stick to materials like paper.

Number 7 is holiday or themed social media traps. So selfie factories, or really just TikTok/Instagram factories are basically inescapable now, especially around the holidays. My colleague even saw a selfie station recently at JFK on her way home from flying. And these Instagram traps, like the Rose Mansion, which was temporary, or the Museum of Ice Cream, which is still here in New York City, charge entrance fees purely for patrons to take photos or videos in the curated spaces for social media. And now there are even holiday and holiday-adjacent versions of these, like Fa La Land in LA or a Harry Potter forbidden forest experience. But the purpose of these things is to be postable. They want you to buy a ticket and post TikToks as free marketing so that your friends then buy a ticket and post to their TikToks. Then their friends do, et cetera. There are plenty of ways of getting an enjoyable and beautiful holiday experience that don't require paying essentially to take pictures to then provide free advertising. For example, this Saturday, my husband and I and some friends are going to go around and see all of the beautiful department store windows here in Manhattan as well as some of the big Christmas trees, which is truly a magical and delightful experience and completely free.

Now number 8, and this one may be a bit more controversial, but I stand by it, is things like candles, fuzzy socks, and other totally impersonal filler gifts. So a good rule of thumb when getting a gift for someone is, do you know them well enough to give them a gift that is personal and adapted to them, that they'll really enjoy and will actually get use of? Or is this someone you don't really know all that well and there's a high chance that this gift is just going to sit unused in a closet for years? If you actually don't a person well enough to give them a gift with meaning, they should probably be falling under the list of people who get cookies or something. And even in a case where a gift is appropriate but you don't the person well enough, like, let's say maybe a gift for someone who works for or with you, a gift card to a place that they like and will shop at is almost always a better call than a bunch of filler gifts that scream I don't the first thing about you.

And similarly, when it comes to I-guess-I'll-give-you-a-gift type gifts is alcohol-related gifts. So if you know that a person does, for example, drink wine and the type of wine they like and that they would love a certain bottle and maybe wouldn't normally buy it themselves, it can be OK to offer this as a gift. But in general, it should never be a default gift that just gets given without consideration. Not only is alcohol a potential very sensitive gift for a lot of people, like, let's say someone is in recovery or can't drink for any number of reasons or just doesn't want to, it's also just not a great habit to constantly be defaulting to alcohol as the go-to gift for someone you don't know very well. We already have plenty of encouragement to drink around the holidays. We don't need to be contributing to that. Now if you want to send someone a nice little bag of cocaine for the holidays, I think that's really thoughtful.

Number 10 is fancy wrapping paper. Now I love fancy wrapping paper, so this really breaks my heart to say, but I know I need to cut back. Wrapping paper is the single greatest source of waste during the holidays. And expensive, fancy, often shiny wrapping paper is really the worst offender when it comes to being bad on basically every front. Things like reusing gift bags and tissue that you've received from other gifts- and this is why it's always very important to save those things if you can- is one great way to go and be sustainable and save money. But there are also tons of beautiful containers and boxes that can be reused and repurposed in people's everyday lives. Or at minimum things just really simple cute brown paper that you can draw on or tie up with a beautiful piece of twine and a sprig of rosemary is more than special enough.

Number 11 is buying someone a pet as a gift. Do not do this. So first of all, adopt, don't shop. Let's start there. 1.3 million puppies are estimated to be produced by USDA licensed facilities each year, not including the many from unlicensed puppy mills, simply because consumers want their fancy designer breeds. And yet many purebreds still end up in shelters anyway, making up 25% of cats and dogs in US shelters. And an estimated 1.5 million dogs and cats are euthanized by shelters every year in the US. Buying a pet is not something to do on a whim. It's not something to do unless it is something that you and the person receiving it have done an enormous amount of research on and have really determined you're prepared for. Think of all of the animals that got returned after people went back to work post-pandemic. And as much as pets can become a beautiful part of the family, they are also a massive responsibility that many people like, for example, children who might be receiving this gift, aren't prepared to live up to. Pets are a part of the family, not a stocking stuffer.

And on that same note of you're really trying to go big or go home but should definitely go home is buying someone a car or, God forbid, a house as a gift without their consult. So I know this looks great on Instagram. Do not do this. Cars and homes are arguably two of the biggest purchases someone will make in their life, and it impacts every aspect of their daily life and finances. Not only are the items you're buying maybe something they wouldn't have necessarily bought for themselves or not perfectly adapted to their life, you often may be signing someone up for a financial commitment that they can't afford. For things like a car, for example, there may be ongoing monthly payments, if not at minimum, all of the various ongoing costs associated with maintaining a car- costs which are infinitely greater when it comes to maintaining a home. And while it can feel amazing to lead someone out to the driveway and show them some big beautiful SUV with a big ass bow on top of it or hand them the deed to a house, these are not the kind of decisions that should be made as a cute Instagram-worthy surprise. These are serious decisions that need to be planned for as a family and especially under the supervision of that individual.

But lastly, on a smaller scale, number 13 is gifting blank of the month subscriptions. So I'm talking things like wine of the month, cigar of the month, sock of the month. There are plenty of of-the-month clubs in existence for literally basically anything you can think of. And monthly subscription boxes can seem like a sweet gift idea, but more often than not, you're just adding to them having even more crap they don't need. According to a survey from Coupon Follow, on average, consumers had two active subscription boxes, spending a monthly total of around $58. Interestingly, more than a third of respondents said that they're paying for boxes they don't really use or need. These consumers indicated that certain types of subscriptions have a perceived sense of waste but continued to purchase these boxes in order to try out new products. Now, a caveat would be if the specific subscription was specifically requested. But even then a more intentional gift where you have actual control of the contents might still be a better option. In short, gift giving can be a beautiful thing as can all of the other consumer moments that happen around the holidays. But it's important to not fall prey to marketing or the desire to just give something for the sake of giving it. We can enjoy the holidays without being wasteful and starting by avoiding these 13 things is a great way to do it. As always, guys, thank you for watching and don't forget to hit the Subscribe button and to come back every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday for new and awesome videos. Goodbye.