I just received an email from my friend J. Money, talking about his very sensible list of the things that you’re “allowed” to buy on Black Friday. (Warning, J does like his colorful language. If that will offend you, don’t read.)
I had been thinking about something similar, but not so die-hard. For 92% of the US population, Black Friday represents an opportunity to buy a bunch of stuff that they don’t need and spend money that they don’t need to spend. (My completely unscientific study determined that about 4% of people won’t buy a thing on Friday, and the other 4% will only make carefully planned purchases within their budget.)
What can you do to make sure you’re an 8%er? While, you can either abstain from shopping altogether, or you can ensure that you are only making purchases of items that are planned and for which you have the money set aside.
Here’s an example of sensible spending: We expect to PCS at the end of next summer, returning to the US and (fingers crossed, on my levels) a house requiring some work. I’m already planning my 2015 Black Friday season shopping for new appliances. Not that I have to make the purchases on Black Friday, but there are often really good prices and not as many people are fighting over dishwashers as televisions. I will have the money ready, and I will have carefully comparison shopped the market so that I can spot a bargain if it’s out there. What’s not sensible is if I go to Home Depot to buy a dishwasher and end up with a dishwasher, a new socket set, and a new carpet for the living.
I have done Black Friday shopping two or three times. It is exhausting, but it can also be nice to knock out a lot of your holiday shopping in one trip. With careful planning, you can purchase items that you actually need at some really good prices. But it is also easy to swoop up some not-so-essentials along the way. Once you’re in the store, and seeing the prices, monkey brain takes over and it can be hard to keep from buying outside of the list you’ve planned.
Which brings us back to option A – not shopping at all.
If you have the discipline, spending plan, and cash available, the post-Thanksgiving shopping weekend can offer some good deals. But saving a few dollars is absolutely not worth it if you end up spending more than you planned, or buying things that you don’t need. It might take some serious introspection to determine whether you can handle the pressure to buy, or whether you should abstain altogether.