Monday, November 24, 2014

Falling into Sales Traps on Black Friday (and in General)

Thanksgiving is coming up. And what does that mean? Talking about what you appreciate in your life? Talking about the history of the holiday? Perhaps... but on the blogosphere, especially in the frugal blogosphere, the thanksgiving aspect of the holiday is severely overshadowed by the countless discussions about Black Friday, pre-Black Friday, and pre-pre Black Friday sales. What is on sale, what has the best sales, what is the best way to make the most of these amazing sales...
And you know what that does? 
It makes you think about all the things you want in your life, all the things your life would be better with, if only you had them. It makes your head in the mentality of "what I'm lacking" instead of "what I appreciate".

Why do you think stores make Black Friday sales? (And pre-Black Friday sales, etc... For the sake of this post and simplicity, from now on, all these sales at this time of year will just be entitled Black Friday sales.) Are they doing it because they really, truly want to help you out, want to help you save money?
They're doing it because it makes them money! You think they're doing it as a service to you, but stores are not having your best interest in mind when they have these sales- they're having theirs. These sales aren't a charity- they're a business decision.

Why is this? 

Because stores know how human psychology works. We hear sale, and we get excited! We hear amazing sale and we get even more excited. We hear super-de-duper sale and we're ready to drop everything and run, stampede even, to get our hands on those bargains. And lay out plenty of cash on those.
Even though these stores are making less of a profit in these items because of "rock bottom prices" than they usually would, on that one day alone, stores make huge amounts of money, their largest profits of the year, which is why they keep on adding more and more sale days (like the pre-Black Friday and pre-pre Black Friday sales).
These stores are counting on you.
They're counting on you to see an "amazing price" and feel like you'd be missing out if you didn't buy this item and that item and 20 or 30 other items, especially large ticket items... When, had there not been that sale, you wouldn't have bought all those items at all.

People, when they buy something at an incredible sale, often talk about how much money they "saved". It doesn't work that way. Saving money means not spending it. You're not saving if you bought something you wouldn't have otherwise bought, because it was at a low price. You're spending. Saving means keeping that money, not spending, but spending "less".

My friend Debbie always talks about this local store, similar to Family Dollar, and how she is in love with it, and its amazing prices. She always ruefully adds after that she shops at the store, fills up her cart with all those "dirt cheap" things, and only at the checkout does she realize just how much she was spending on all those "cheap things".
Sound familiar?
I was like that at the farmer's market. (Ok, I'll admit, I sometimes still am like that, but not always.) I'd be in awe of the amazing prices there... and come home with no cash left, having spent it all on things with "great prices". (Now I make sure to go with a strict shopping list, and a small amount of cash to spend there only, and that doesn't usually happen.)

That's how it is with Black Friday- things are such "great prices" that people spend over their budget and often end going into debt to pay for these "very cheap" items. 
Don't let that be you.

Additionally, there's that added factor that just because something is "on sale" doesn't mean that it is the best deal you can get. Often in the grocery store, the items "on sale" work out more expensive per pound than a different brand not on sale. (The dates I recently bought "on sale" were the same price I usually pay for a different brand not on sale, I discovered after the fact.)

There are so many ways that Black Friday and all other related "amazing sale days" can make you fall into the trap of overspending.
Don't let that happen to you.

Focus on what you have. 
Don't go looking through all the deal sites. 
Don't browse the advertisements that come in the mail, enticing you to stores' "one day only sale".

Look around.

Appreciate all the amazing things you have in your life.

Truly be thankful for all the goodness you were blessed with. 

That is what Thanksgiving is about. 

Being grateful. 

Not lusting after things you don't have. 

Not dreaming about how amazing your life would be "if only you had..."

Black Friday is the antithesis of Thanksgiving. Ironic, isn't it, therefore, that some places start their Black Friday sales on Thanksgiving itself? And even when it only starts a few hours after the Thanksgiving dinner is completed, do people not realize how absurd that is? How now they are absolutely desperate to get their hands on these "must haves"? Whatever happened to the appreciation Thanksgiving is supposed to be about?

My culture has a pertinent saying- "A wealthy man is one who is happy with what he has."

Think about it.

All those people running to get those Black Friday deals... They're not rich in more ways than one. Firstly, because they are being part of the consumerism culture that makes people think that only via acquisition of things will they be happy- they're not happy with what they have. And secondly, because of the hole Black Friday will inevitably leave in their pocket.

Every year I feel pressure to write about Black Friday deals. To share some amazing finds. To talk about how you can save money with these deals. But no. I will not share a single Black Friday deal here on this blog.
I promote being smart with your money.
Not buying something (or a lot of things) just because "they're on sale".

That said...

Should the frugal person not take advantage of Black Friday's sales?

No, they should.

So long as they do it smartly.

First- make a list throughout the year of things you need (or want enough that you were going to get it anyhow). If you find them at a great price throughout the year, then great, buy it. And if you don't find it at a great price before Black Friday- search for deals for those items and those items only- no browsing "what else is on sale" because, trust me, most people will fall for that trap and buy more than just what they planned on buying.

Secondly- save up money for these items you were planning on getting anyhow. And pay cash that you budgeted for these items. No credit card. No layaway. Cash only. On pre-planned purchases only.

What am I getting for Black Friday/Cyber Monday?

Probably nothing.

Unless I can find a pair of cheap good quality running shoes in size 12 (women) on sale- if you know of any place selling, feel free to share in the comments below or via email. (The Saucony shoes I ordered online from a deal site ended up being too small so I'm trying to sell them since I can't return them.)

And unless has deals on coconut sugar. 

That's it.

Because I don't need a day of "thankfulness" to blow a hole in my budget, tempting me to buy things I am perfectly fine without.

What are your thoughts on Black Friday and other similar sales? What is your plan for Black Friday?

Linking up to Mostly Homemade Monday


  1. I dont know if you consider this cheap but Kohl's has some sneakers for $30 in size 12

    1. Thank you! I'll check that out! $30 for size 12 is definitely super cheap compared to what I've been paying for shoes here, when I can even find them...

    2. Don't forget to google for coupons. Kohls usually has savings passes or the like.

  2. Hi Penny! On the subject of trying to find runners for giant feet, I buy on Amazon. Mizuno runner fit my size 11.5 feet to perfection, and I normally pay around $60 which is not CHEAP but more affordable than the $280 price they are in Australia. I buy quality shoes on Amazon every couple of years and then wear them to death.

    Thanks for a great blog, I really enjoy reading it.
    Anna. :)

  3. I observe Buy Nothing Day on the day after Thanksgiving. I have NEVER gone to a Black Friday sale or bought anything online on that day because I feel so strongly about the inappropriateness of these sales that you described so well. My goal is to spend no money at all on that day.

    Because my family typically travels to a large family gathering in another state for Thanksgiving, we usually eat breakfast in a diner on Friday. (Do we NEED to do that? No, we could be more frugal by bringing food to eat in our hotel room. But we feel that breakfast with the other hotel-staying relatives is a valuable experience. I always thank the diner staff for working during the holiday weekend.) If we truly need something that day that cannot wait until Saturday, I'll stop in at a drugstore, but I do not browse.

    Friday is a day for additional time with our relatives, many of whom we see only once a year. Shopping is not one of the things we do together. I love bargains, but that's not a day I look for them.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. In Canada Black Friday isn't as big, and the deals seem like usual deals to me. I've been excited to wait out in line ups and such, but there's never been anything to really tempt me. Learning to live with less certainly makes shopping a little less exciting! I also have never been able to wrap my head around Thanksgiving on a Thursday then Black Friday at midnight. ..

  5. I'm with Becca! I refuse to shop on Black Friday. It's the principle of the thing.

    They have some cute sneaks in size 12 at some pretty good deals. I need a new pair of dress shoes and hubby needs a new pair of canvas shoes (we both realized this when it rained this week-lol), and I was on the site right before I read your blog post. :)


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