The Christmas Tree Recurrence Extrapolation

We live in a wonderful suburban neighborhood and can walk to an awesome farm in as little as 5 minutes. Each season, the neighborhood farm will have different items on offer. They’ve just about finished cleaning up the last pumpkins and now you can get:

Christmas trees!

The $1 billion question is: What kind of tree to buy?

Did you know American consumers consistently spend more than one billion dollars on Christmas trees every holiday season!? In 2019, 26.2 million real Christmas trees were sold in the United States. There are around 300,000 acres in production for growing Christmas trees in the United States, according to the USDA. What an evergreen economy isn’t it? Read more here if interested.

Oh, Christmas tree!

The Christmas Tree Farm

At our farm, you can get a few different kinds of trees, pre-cut trees, or you can even go cut your own! Amazing if you think about it. I love how entrepreneurial the farm is. Truly genius!

It’s big business.

The holiday season is getting started!

Today we went for a walk to the farm together with the kids who love the place as well. Most certainly they started comparing and arguing which tree fits our home better.

That was the moment I decided to switch this into another Financial Excursion!

To get into the mood, hit play on the below song “Christmas Tree Farm” by Taylor Swift as you read on:

Did you know Taylor Swift only took 24 hours to produce this above song? She then released it within 4 days!? It’s my favourite holiday song 2020 playing on endless loop on our home SONOS system.

My Thoughts

All of a sudden everyone needs to have a freshly cut pine tree temporarily decorating their living rooms. Amid all the year-end busyness, finalizing holiday preparations and getting everything done before the year comes to an end you got to find a tree – again!

Since we’re in the midst of a climate emergency and become increasingly aware of our ecological footprint, did you ever think how much it costs “nature” to cut yet another tree to look at it falling apart in your living room, every year? Wouldn’t it be better to let these trees grow stronger and help us absorb more carbon dioxide?

We can look at this dilemma from different perspectives. And yes, there are feasible alternatives. But not all of them “fit the bill”. I understand.

A real Christmas tree is genuine, provides a “true feeling of Christmas” and doesn’t come across as cheap, also, exactly form the ecological point of view: Real Christmas trees are sustainable if farmed for that purpose!

On the other side, fake Christmas trees are not simply clean, they need to be produced as a factory somewhere and transported much further. However, once you got one, they are convenient, they can stay longer, very much longer, they always look the same and ultimately can save you a lot of money over time!

A real tree standing around two meters tall needs around a decade to grow into its size before it gets chopped for its use, an artificial tree on the other side can last you a decade or longer.

Christmas trees most likely will also get more expensive in the future, hence buying a sustainable artificial one today – which costs often about the same amount as a real one by the way – shields you from upcoming inflation.

Christmas Tree Economics

As mentioned above, together with the kids we enjoyed seeing the Christmas tree farm shop and looked at the beautiful decorations, the nice trees and of course the prices as well.

Seeing the price tags, I explained that our artificial tree cost me around $40 more than 5 years ago – we actually bought it AFTER Christmas when they were on sale. A similar tree nowadays would cost around $100 and I’ve asked them how many times we could save maybe $100 already. Yes, around five times by now. That’s $500 for team FIRE.

Last time I wrote about how cutting your own hair or baking your own bread can help you get wealthy, some commentors argued in disbelieve that this seems too easy and I could be simply applying this very same method to virtually anything in life.

You know what?

Besides not believing that it works, they are absolutely right: I can and I do!

Look at the below table with the following assumptions: $100 cost for a real or an artificial tree. Assuming 2% annual inflation. Assuming 10% average return on investments. This does not reflect time savings and increasing your mental capacity due to reducing decision making complexity.

Here are my simple Christmas tree economics.

I called it “The Christmas Tree Recurrence Extrapolation”:

Boom!

If you change your habit, simply reading this blog post saved your future self $20,000!

You’re welcome.

Merry Christmas!

Awaken The Christmas Spirit

Looking at all the trees at the farm initiated the Christmas spirit in ourselves. We quickly hurried back home, I went looking for the carton box with our artificial Christmas tree and brought it to our living room. Like every year we enjoyed putting up and decorating the tree together.

Looking at the tree market, deciding not to buy anything and then going back home to set-up our tree should have taught the kids a lesson that you can enjoy seeing a market without buying anything.

I’m most certain our artificial tree will last us many more years to come.

It still looks fresh.

From this day onwards, our Sonos system plays now “Christmas Tree Farm” on endless loop!

Is it really time to give up on real Christmas trees?

I am not here to say yes or no to that, as I enjoy both ways. We have decided from a convenience, environmental, time optimization, and money point of view to stick to our artificial tree for as long as we can.

In the meantime, if you are still looking for gifting ideas to spread financial literacy you may want to check out my other Christmas posts “Santa’s Kick-Ass Christmas List” or “Merry Giftmas List” for finspirational gift ideas!

Gift something [financially] empowering if you can.

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

Matt

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8 thoughts on “The Christmas Tree Recurrence Extrapolation”

  1. It just doesn’t sit right with me to buy something like that to use just for a few days and then trash it. On top of the waste, is also the environmental impact of driving to pick it up and back. As well as the drive to dispose of it. On top are chemicals used to treat the trees. We have an artificial tree which the kids enjoy and looks great too. Plus it is a huge time saver just having to retrieve it from home storage.

    1. Dear Phil,

      Yes, it dawned on me how much of a waste it could be. We enjoy the convenience overall and also that we already know what we’ll get. Now surprises and hustle and repeated strugle every year.

      Brilliant!

      Merry Christmas to you guys!
      Matt

  2. What an interesting extrapolation. Just goes to show again that we underestimate those little things, which can add up to large sums of money over time.
    Growing up, I always went to the forest with my grandfather (he used to be a farmer and still owned some forest) and we chose a tree and cut it down together. We only ever took the ones that would need to be cut down in the spring anyway because they grew too close to others. This meant that we usually had a wonky/ ‘thin’ Christmas tree, but it was always so special.
    These days, I celebrate at my mother’s house, so I don’t have my own Christmas tree. But I’d consider a re-usable one if I ever did celebrate at my place.

    1. Dear Kat, thanks for sharing your story here! I also hold some dear memories about childhood Christmas, it’s wonderful to have such warm memories. Treasure them! We always went for a walk and by the time we returned, the gifts magically appeared under the tree. Nowadays I’m playing Santa and try to trick the kids into other stuff while “doing the work”… Merry Christmas to you! Matt

  3. I grew up with real Christmas trees and loved them. My husband had the opposite—they always had artificial trees.

    As much as I miss the scent of the real trees, I agree with you that artificial trees a more affordable, practical option.

    To make it an eco-friendly purchase, we bought ours used on Craigslist. This saved us a couple of hundred dollars, saved an artificial tree from going to the landfill and avoided the need for another artificial tree to be manufactured. It’s a win-win-win!

    1. Hey Chrissy, awesome,

      I love win-win-win arrangements!

      Win-win-win for the win!!!

      It’s almost time again to put our tree back in its box for 11 months, the kids are already looking forward to put it up again in December.

      The scent of a tree is easily replaced by the scent of freshly baked cookies.

      Cheers,
      Matt

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