I just read an alarming statistic – Americans spent upwards of $15 billion on food, beverages, decorations, and apparel for this year’s Super Bowl, an event that lasted about 4 hours and in most people’s minds, an event that has now been forgotten (especially for Falcons fans). $15 billion comes out to roughly $135 per person – and by “per person” we’re talking about the 111 million folks who watched the game.
The outrageous spending for the Super Bowl is not a unique occurrence. Every big event (or holiday) in American culture is characterized by excessive spending. I bet if you Google “how to save money on ____” and insert any random event (birthday, Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, etc.), you’ll get 9 articles advocating some level of spending for every 1 article that talks about saving money by using what you already have at home. Why? Because we’re conditioned to equate celebrations with spending.
Nowhere was that more evident than in the grocery store on Saturday. We were amazed – overwhelmed, really – by the huge amount of Super Bowl nosh in people’s carts – chips, dips, wings, all sorts of beverages, and party trays by the dozens. We even watched one lady blindly grab a stack of $17.98 veggie trays (not even a glance at them or the price) and pile them atop her tier of beer. So many thoughts crossed our minds – how much of this stuff will actually be eaten? How many calories are in all those processed foods? How many people will call in sick on Monday because they ate or drank too much? (The answer to that last question is about 1.5 million.)
As a minimalist, seeing such examples of extreme over-consumption makes me a little angry at the person (for not being more aware) and at our culture in general for perpetuating the lie that happiness comes from the store. At a time when 80% of Americans are in debt, we should be doing more to encourage living within one’s means. Yet, of all the articles I read today about Super Bowl spending, not a one of them spoke to the fact that the vast majority of viewers weren’t in a position to afford all the awesome new things being hawked in those $5 million dollar ads (much less the $15 billion that they had already spent in the name of watching those ads).
Now make no mistake, we love football and were just as excited as everyone else to sit down to the Big Game yesterday. Heck, we even had my mom over for dinner and served chips and salsa for an appetizer! Our entree was a play on words – we made soup for the Super Bowl, along with a really big sandwich. Our cost for items outside of our normal grocery list – just $1.49 (for a loaf of Ciabatta bread that was on the clearance table).
My point in all of this is not to convert everyone to minimalism or chastise folks who spent more than a buck and a half for their game day celebration. My point is to raise awareness. As a society, we need to stop falling prey to the idea that big events require big dollars and realize that simplicity doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We can apply a “less is more” mentality to every aspect of our lives – including times of celebration. Partying like a rock star for every occasion is expensive, time consuming, and mostly unfulfilling. Remove the hype and hoopla, the crazy need to outdo the Jones, and you also remove all the stress.
My advice – be a trendsetter and party like a minimalist instead. Spend time not money on putting your party together. Be creative and resourceful, using what you already have at home. Invite only the people you enjoy being around. Serve only what can reasonably be consumed in the time frame. Create an environment where it’s easy for you and your guests to avoid all excesses – overeating, overspending, and over-indulging in drink. And most of all – be the life of your party. Be present, enjoy the moment, and those around you will do the same.
Weekly Progress to Goals Report (week ending 2/4)
- No Spend Days = 3
YTD = 20/200
- Meatless Days = 3
YTD = 16.5/144
- Miles Walked/Hiked = 8/0
YTD = 65.8/1,000 and 3.6/100
- Decluttered Items = 38
YTD = 188/2017
- Side Hustle Income = $67.57
YTD = $155.28/$1,825