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Elevating Gift Giving

For the past 6 years I haven’t engaged in any traditional gifting. Whether it’s Christmas, Mother’s Day, or Valentine’s Day – no gifts. Seems cruel and unusual but it’s been my second most liberating decision after getting rid of my car.

Traditional gift giving, naturally, wasn’t invented by consumers. Rather, it’s a marketing strategy to get us to spend money and make us feel like we care. You know, cheat on your partner but make sure to buy them a fucking bracelet.

Though I’ll sign a holiday card if it lands in front of my pen, I don’t purchase glittery cards. I don’t go through the carousel of elegantly designed cards to pick out something unique. Some of these cards these days are works of art! I wouldn’t expect less for $7.99.

No birthday gifts. Glad it’s your birthday homie, hope you have many more great ones. I don’t see a reason to celebrate it by purchasing something useless on that day. But I’ll try to remember them, maybe send them a text, or if appropriate, a few dick pics to mark the occasion.

Significant other… that’s tough. As you might have guessed from my writing, I am single – shocking, I know. But I’m sure eventually I’ll meet the next ex-wifey and have to revisit this gifting thing. Who knows, maybe it’ll be someone who shares my nausea for planned gift giving.

I save a lot money by not giving gifts to people. Is putting money ahead of tradition cheap, cold, and insensitive? I say, if you’re buying useless shit that just clutters the world then you might be the insensitive one. There are people starving in Nigeria – though that might be because they are birthing like 6 children per household, on average.

Alternative plan to gift giving

I figure I’ll save my money and I get myself to a stable and financially secure place – as I have now. I can have far more meaningful impact on others from such a position. No longer having to work to survive but I working for a good cause.

That transition point is easy to miss, though. You might suddenly find yourself age 60, having forgotten to give back. So, here is my holiday recipe for y’all: don’t spend a penny on a gift until you are financially independent – if that’s your goal – and once you get there then start being more generous.

You can be generous with your time or money – it doesn’t matter. But turn gift giving on its head. Buy random sustainable shit for people whom you care about for no good reason.

You walk by a quaint bodega and you think to yourself, this would be an awesome bottle of wine to have. Instead of getting it for yourself, gift it to a friend.

When you’re out with friends and you’re ordering your vegan mac & cheese, pay for their vegan arugula pizza too. No reason. No birthday, no quinceaƱera, nobody’s foreskinectomy celebration, no anniversary. Just you giving out of kindness.

Meaningful gifts

The next step is to help those around you who are working hard to get out of debt and to live more sustainable lives. If you can help them pay down some debt, don’t hesitate to do it. Totally taboo in our culture, I know, but fuck it. Elevate gift giving to your own definition.

If a good friend needs some money to start a business, give it to them or lend it to them indefinitely.

It feels much better to give when you can actually afford it. If you’re just going to carry your student loans and keep making Sallie Mae richer while buying gifts on your Chase credit card then you aren’t just fucking your finances over, you’re also ensuring that these big institutions get bigger.

Traditional gift giving is terrible for a functional economy despite what politicians and economists say. Consumer spending is not a sustainable way for an economy to grow.

Some will say: “Oh, Dr Mo, you don’t know what it’s like to have kids. They don’t know any better and it’s cruel not to give them gifts.” But I used to be a kid and I remember all the useless shit I got growing up. I would have rather had more time with my family. I would have rather my parents took the gift money and gave it to the legit starving neighbors we had just a few miles from our house.

Consequences of welching

Don’t think that your family and friends will disown you. Just take that first step and proclaim that you are broke and cannot afford gifts.

It doesn’t matter if you are earning $300,000 a year. If you have any kind of debt, you are economically in the red. The time will come when you can give lavishly but it’s not when you’re sporting a negative net worth.

Some of you who are far less cold-hearted than Dr Mo, might be pitying some friends and family who are poor. But let me remind you that poverty is the norm. I think giving back is wonderful but I don’t see gifting as a solution for this.

You didn’t get ‘lucky’ and you’re not ‘fortunate’ to have a high income. You got on your hands and knees and you gave the MCATs the best pencil job it’s ever received. You did research and volunteered and you studied hours on end. Luck is at the craps table. Hard and mind-bending work is done in the library or in your stuffy bedroom with the neighbors partying above you.

Freeing up resources

If you stop giving out gifts then you’ll achieve all of the following:

  • saving on time spent looking for shit
  • saving your money for more impactful causes
  • saving on gas delivering or shopping for the gift
  • save dark people dying overseas to make your product cheap as possible
  • saving environmental resources needed to make the goods
  • decreasing traffic driving around picking out stuff

Please tune in for more cold-hearted shit brought to you by yours truly. To unsubscribe click the link at the end of your email.


Updates this week:

  1. Reply to California Medical Board Accusation suit.
  2. Continue doing Just Answer. I’ve made $166 so far.
  3. Running a clinical study (I know!) as part of my consulting work. Recruiting patients for it this week.
  4. Plan out my trips to Vegas and Norcal.
  5. Adjust my property insurance with my insurance company for higher coverage.

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