Topics We’re Talking About: Pumpkin Is King (or How to Plan For the Holiday Season)


The other day as I crowd surfed the Sunday evening chaos at Trader Joe’s, I came to an obvious conclusion: pumpkin is everywhere. In cookies. In cereal. In beer. In cheese. In ravioli. In… pumpkin. Everywhere.  The marketing around the squash would have me believe it’s a figurehead of national importance.

I  finished up my shopping trip (all the while dodging samples and weaving through pyramids of fall-flavored items) and slowly made my way up to the front of the line. There, the employee at the register scanned my less than fall-festive basket of broccoli and cookie butter (remain in awe of my healthy balance!) before putting a hand up in invitation for a high five.

“Wait, but why?” I asked.

He replied, “We have 62 different pumpkin products at this store. You’re the first customer I’ve checked without a single one.” 

Evidently the checker was in equal astonishment over the draw a squash can have when October rolls around. Since I’d escaped with nary a pumpkin product he recognized (and rewarded) the fact.

Heck yes! I thought. Look at me, darting between those autumn marketing campaigns. Sticking to my list. Resisting seasonal impulse buys. Heck. Yes. Smug over the strength of my willpower, I trotted to my bike with a backpack that was filled with budgeted-for items and confidence. I’m totally going to own my budget this holiday season.

Fateful last words of a well-intentioned, overly optimistic saver.

My next visit to Trader Joe’s had me packing not only pumpkin ice cream and pumpkin sandwich cookies but pumpkin waffle mix. This on top of an actual pumpkin. That was escaping easily, too. I would have gladly cannonballed into the lake of pumpkin enthusiasm (62 items, remember?), but I managed to limit it to dipping in just a toe.

So how? How did I go from peacocking my resistance to holiday spending to guiltily shoving pumpkin chai (oops, forgot about that one) into the depths of my grocery basket?

Marketing. Exposure. The draw of “limited edition.” In other words… the holiday “spirit” can wear you down. And quickly.

Take a look around any street and you’re likely to see holiday marketing campaigns across billboards and in storefronts. This won’t go away in the coming months. In fact, holiday marketing will only increase as weeks wax on. Constant exposure to seasonal marketing campaigns makes spending all the more tempting. I’m living proof of that! But I should also mention that my second trip to TJ’s was sans a shopping list aka sans a plan. Whereas my initial visit I had boundaries to help guide my decisions, no list during my second visit had me quickly deviating from my budget.

So yes, pumpkin may be king, but having a plan of action for your budget can help to maintain order in your own financial kingdom. Such are the statements I make when I’m focused on achieving my goals.

As we’re about to be smacked with full-fledged holiday, I wanted to round up the best articles from the week to spur the planning into action! Have a read:

How to Create a Gift-Giving Plan of Attack – I’m An Organizing Junkie
Prepping for the holiday season doesn’t necessarily mean forgoing the warm fuzzies entirely. By budgeting for your expenses you can more easily avoid calls to spend at every twist and turn of an aisle (and that means more time spent on the good stuff!).

Why I’m Skipping Black Friday This Year – Club Thrifty
Deals galore! Herds of sleep-deprived and over-zealous shoppers! There are oh so many opinions on Black Friday. Read on for a look into one blogger’s reasons for avoiding the biggest shopping day of the year.

Top 10 Experiential Gifts – The New York Budget
I’ve always been a fan of experiential gifts, mostly because the memories last far beyond a product warranty. Dave shares how to give the gift of awesomeness via experiential gifts!

How We’re Having a Holly Jolly Anti Consumer Christmas – Common Sense Millennial
For another example of experiential giving this season, check out Kali’s post on how she and her family celebrated Christmas in October. Oh yes, it’s possible.

So You Fell Off the Wagon – Listen, Money Matters!
Let’s factor in some flexibility (and reality) into our plans since it’s not necessarily an issue of if but when we deviate from a plan. Here’s what to do when you fall off the hay wagon onto a field of pumpkin (or other seasonally themed) goods.

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Thanks to all mentioning ReadyForZero…
Making Sense of Cents
Debt Free After Three
Business Insider
The Dime Colorado

… and be sure to check out our recent appearance on the Experian Credit Chat!

So go, readers. Look that pumpkin in the face (if that jack-o-lantern has made it this far) and give it a good hard stare. Holiday or not, you won’t be swayed. OK except for pie. Because c’mon, it’s pie.

Happy weekend!

Image Credit: Dave Myer

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  • Dave @ The New York Budget

    Thanks for the shoutout! Always good to start getting ready for the holiday season early!

    • Claire Murdough

      Of course! Loved your article 🙂

  • Hahah, YES! I had the exact same experience in Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago! I was totally overwhelmed and tempted by the plethora of pumpkin. I resisted and didn’t buy anything off-list, but, hot dog if their marketing techniques aren’t genius!

    • Claire Murdough

      Mad geniuses! Prepare yourself for peppermint season :p