The season of magic is upon us.
Right around now, most consumers are laying plans to intensify their spending frenzy for the final month of the year. After all, what better way to celebrate the holidays and the accompanying temporary freedom from work, with additional financial bondage to that very job?
Since you and I generally don’t participate in the games of the retail industry, I thought we could celebrate US Thanksgiving and its spendy neighbor Black Friday in a different way: by renewing our vows to lead a more meaningful, vigorous, innovative, and generally awesome life. Badass Friday is what we could call it, and it should be an annual tradition.
Gifts and Traditions
Around this time of year, I start getting emails from thoughtful readers with questions about the holidays: “What does the MMM family do about the Christmas gift exchange tradition? What about birthdays and other holidays?”
The answer to this one is just what you’d expect from Mr. Money Mustache: We skip the whole retail aspect of it entirely. In the wise words of Grandpa Money Mustache: “A Simpler Christmas is a Grander Christmas“, and you can read more about it in the holiday MMM Classic entitled Happy Buy Nothing Day.
In our old age, we’ve become much more interested in using surplus cash to help others. We have committed not to inflate our own lifestyle beyond its already-cozy level, and also believe in letting our son earn his own way to financial independence when he grows up, rather than leaving a large estate. This should leave several million dollars free throughout our lifetimes to do other things, and I basically follow the ideals of the Gates Foundation* when it comes to efficient charity. Other favorites include Charity Navigator, DonorsChoose.org, and GiveWell.org.
But we’re still big on tradition in our family. Not the traditions prescribed in ancient texts and scrolls, but generally sillier ones we invent ourselves and carry on just because they are fun.
Every Friday, the arrival of the weekend is celebrated with Family Movie Night. Every meal, even breakfast, is served by candlelight. And self-imposed blackouts are frequent: besides our our ongoing freedom from TV (a tradition which started in 1999), we also have a weekly No Computer Day, and even occasional No Electricity Nights. That last one came about two years ago, when I received a power failure for my birthday and we all enjoyed it:
Mr. Money Mustache Receives the Gift of Hardship for his Birthday
Preparation for a New Season
For the roughly 60% of MMM readers who live in Northern climates, winter means cooler weather and a time when those of weak constitution turn to automobile travel and indoor recreation. Not the Mustachians: we simply brush up on our winter survival skills and apply them with renewed gusto:
How to Ride your Bike All Winter – and Love it
MMM Challenge: Try Getting your Groceries with a Bike Trailer
First Understand, Then Destroy, Your Home Heating Bill
The Oil Well You Can Keep in Your Pants
So Happy Thanksgiving to all, when we will give thanks for all the good things that we have, and equal thanks to all the unnecessary ones we don’t crave.
*The Gates Foundation: The ruthlessly efficient businessman applies infinite wealth and intellect towards the problem of saving the world. In a nutshell: our biggest problem is too many humans, because of the famines, wars, and environmental problems that happen when you greatly exceed the productive capacity of the planet. Solve this, and all the other problems start to solve themselves. The solution is to give us the strength to reproduce less. Most of the population growth currently comes from the poorest countries. But quite counter-intuitively, the way to reduce the birth rate in these countries is to improve health, prosperity, and education. See the amazing (and short) video called “The River of Myths” for why this works.