Zig When Others Zag–Go Countercyclical

Zig Zag Go Counter-cyclical

When I was a kid, I loved celebrating Christmas.  The shiny presents.  A stocking hanging over the fireplace.  Small, colorful lights wending their way around the Christmas tree….

There was just one thing.  Santa Claus made a big exception for our family.  I didn’t know this at the time, but Santa often came to the Johnston household on December 23, or December 24, or even December 26.  I was blissfully unaware of this, as my parents just said “today’s Christmas,” and we opened the presents.

You see, my dad was a pilot.  Throughout his career, as often as not, he was working on Christmas eve and Christmas day.  So, we just shifted things around a bit.  None the worse for wear.

Well, I’m glad I grew up that way.  Because it created a habit that my family deploys to this day.  I call it this Zigging When Others Zag–or Going Countercyclical.  Every Thanksgiving and every Christmas Day, my sister and I take a trip to the ski slopes.  The ski hills are totally, completely empty.  There is no traffic driving to and from the mountain.  Why?  Because everybody, and I mean everybody, else is celebrating the holidays on those specific days.  So when does our family celebrate Thanksgiving?  The day before or the day after, depending on flight schedules and other matters.

You can do this in small ways.  When do you go to the grocery or mall?  Why not show up when they first open and no one is there?  You won’t have to wait in line, and the roads will be empty driving around town.

Traveling in the shoulder season is another incredible chance for countercyclical harvesting.  I spent most of last April and all of May on the Croatian coast.  I stayed in a four-hundred year old home right on the water.  I paid about $760 per month to stay in this amazingly furnished apartment.  In August, that same home would have cost about $6,000 per month.  There were no crowds, and the weather wasn’t crushingly hot like in peak tourist season there.

Other simple examples include buying athletic gear at the end of the sports season or buying Christmas wrapping paper or lights right after Christmas.

I recognize that not everyone can go countercyclical all the time.  Many of us are coordinating bringing multiple families together for the holidays.  But even before you reach financial independence (when the opportunities to go countercyclical skyrocket), you can find opportunities to zig when others zag everywhere.

Countercyclical behavior is another example of creative, strategic thinking–rather than brute hard work–that yields financial returns.

So what about you?  Are you really thinking creatively and zigging where others zag?  Go countercyclical.