You knew I had to go there! Black Friday is just one week away, so I’m here to alert you to all the best deals and steals to kick off your holiday season…NOT!
Okay, in all seriousness, I’m not going to sit here and tell you Black Friday is the devil, but it should be approached with caution. Don’t use it as an excuse to buy a ton of crap you don’t need or want. Just because an item is 70% off doesn’t mean it’s worth your money or your time.
A little backstory for you…I did not grow up doing Black Friday shopping. Of course, way back when I was a young’un, Black Friday actually took place only on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Now, it’s been creeping back earlier and earlier for several years, so some stores open on Thanksgiving Day instead of super-early on Friday. Plus, tons of retailers offer great online deals throughout the week and Cyber Monday.
When I was a teenager, I sometimes thought it might be kind of fun to go shopping that Friday, but we never went. My family was always at least a half-hour drive away from any major shopping centers or malls, which was a big deterrent. Getting up way before the crack of dawn was another obstacle.
Anyway, it was not my family tradition to get up in the wee hours of the morning to shop for Black Friday deals. Instead, we typically go to a beautiful park a few miles from my parents’ home. It’s terrific for hiking together with the extended family. The kids roll down this huge hill while the adults watch and snap photos. We love the fresh air and scenery, and we work off some of that turkey and pumpkin pie.
For a lot of you, Black Friday shopping is your tradition. Maybe you and your family like to go out together and get all your Christmas shopping done in that one day. Perhaps you always meet your best friend at the mall to scour the stores for crazy discounts. I’m not here to discourage you from keeping that tradition alive. Traditions are awesome, and they draw us closer together. They provide us some continuity in increasingly uncertain times.
This week’s post is simply a reminder to be mindful of your spending. Whatever your specific financial goals are, don’t veer off course by going wild on Black Friday. As with any spending, planning in advance is crucial to upholding frugality. Here are a few tips for ensuring your Black Friday doesn’t ruin your Christmas, Hannukah, or New Year’s Eve.
Reigning in Black Friday Spending:
- Plan ahead. Check online for stores’ best deals beforehand, so you know what to expect. Lots of sales have already been publicized.
- Distinguish between needs and wants. If you only have the funds for certain items, make your dollars count by prioritizing.
- If you’re specifically shopping for holiday gifts, figure out for what and for whom you’ll be shopping. This can help you avoid buying three extras of items “just in case” you might need one for someone you forgot. It’s not really a bargain if you buy a bunch more than needed and just add to the junk in your closet.
- Unless the experience of being physically in the stores that day is truly important for you, try to score your deals online. That way you avoid the scary bargain shoppers we’ve all heard about. You skip the interminable lines and rude behavior. In addition, you run less risk of impulse buying.
- Be safe out there! We all have common sense; let’s use it and not risk losing a limb just to get cheap electronics.
- On a slightly less frugal note, November 26th is this year’s Small Business Saturday. True, small businesses can’t usually offer as low of prices as major chains and Amazon. But if you value quality over quantity, and supporting smaller businesses rather than multi-millionaires is important to you, might I suggest patronizing the mom-and-pop stores in your area? Perhaps scoring the absolute lowest price on things isn’t always what matters. Shopping local when possible can go a long way toward helping your community.
Are you a Black Friday fan? What Thanksgiving traditions do you follow year after year?