Avoiding Competitive Shopping For Fun and Profit

As a personal finance writer and editor, I have watched many a Black Friday with a mix of fascination and horror. For some of those years, I was involved in the packaging of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as AOL ad sales people pushed us to develop a series of posts, videos, and photo galleries leading up to and culminating in the event, including one year when we asked freelancers across the country to report “live” from (presumably) Wal-Mart and Target and Sears lines in their own hometowns.

On one site I worked on, we actually had a category we created just for leaked Black Friday ads. On the other end of the Black Friday transaction, I listened to analyst conference calls where CEOs and CFOs reported the results from creating those frenzies among customers.

So when I say “what I have learned” it is with considerable context and study. What I have learned is this: for consumers, nothing good results from thinking of shopping as a competition.

The house always wins
You know the mantra for gamblers and those in the business of gambling entertainment? “The house always wins.” It's the concept that the games are not quite rigged, but calculated very, very shrewdly to ensure that the house (the companies that are providing the games, hotels, dealers, and the plentiful free drinks) will come out with a profit in the end. If $100,000 is gambled in a day, you can bet the house will end up with enough to cover its salaries, rent, liquor costs; enough to cover the glittery lights and the cocktail napkins and the piped-in music, the bells and the whistles, and then some — probably more than $50,000 of that. If anyone goes home a winner, chances are, next time they'll end up in the hole.

Even those temporary “losses” for the house are expected to result in a hunger on the part of the consumer to come back and try again. He'll tell all his friends that he won and he'll feel warm and fuzzy feelings about the establishment — “goodwill.” When he comes back and loses, he'll still be happy, remembering that time he won!

Think of competitive shopping as gambling…against a mafioso
When shopping is the sort of thing you are willing to miss sleep for (or pitch a tent for, or drive hours for, or stand in crazy-long lines for), it's not just comparable to gambling. It's comparable to gambling when the “house” is run by the mafia. Think Casino. Think Ocean's Eleven. I don't want to suggest that the management of a department store is like the mob; what they're doing is legal and you're complicit in your own snookering. You willingly walk into a situation in which (were you honest with yourself) you knew that you'd end up spending money on things that were not on (insanely great) sale. In fact, even some of the things on insanely great sale are things you just don't need.

Take the waffle iron. Nearly all the coverage of this year's Black Friday mentioned the great buys on waffle irons to be had at Wal-Mart: only $2! It would be hard to argue that this is not a screaming good deal. Emphasis on “eeek!” The frenzy got a bit out of control, with some shoppers picking up armloads. And I don't want to judge people based on a cell-phone video so I'll just make a blanket assumption about all people everywhere: Do they use waffle irons? I mean, I do, but I already have a perfectly serviceable waffle iron, picked up at a garage sale for $1. Or maybe even $2, I can't remember. I would be willing to guess that many customers did not buy the waffle iron because they wanted to make waffles, or wanted to give it to their waffle-making relatives whose current appliances had just suffered a terrible waffle iron accident. They bought it because it was an amazing deal.

What else did those customers buy? Lots of things, if anecdotal evidence is any guide, and if store reports can be trusted (I believe they can). It may not be bait-and-switch; it's bait-and-overfeed. After several years in the low-$40s, Thanksgiving weekend sales jumped up to over $50 billion for 2011, with an average of about $400 per shopper. The thing in most shopper's bags was not appliances or (umm) pepper spray, either; clothing made up more than 50% of women's purchases over the weekend, while purchases made by men (which averaged significantly higher than those made by women) were mostly consumer electronics. There's no way of knowing for sure, but most news interviews I heard over the recent holiday shopping extravaganza indicate that many consumers were shopping as much for themselves as for their gift recipients.

You save money by not spending it
I've said it before (and it's been said by others): there is only one way to save money, and that doesn't happen in a mall or in an online shopping cart. You can't save money if you're spending money. You save by not spending. My parents say it more folksy-like: “I'll tell you how to save even more money!” (than whatever amazing savings a circular or television ad is trumpeting — don't buy the thing).

If you walk out of a store adding up all the money you “saved,” you're only fooling yourself. Sure, if you bought those things at the original retail price, you would have spent a lot more. But I'd be willing to bet that most of us don't go into a mall store with a list and a commitment to spend whatever it takes to check everything off; no, most of us go into a mall store with a dollar limit and try to get the most stuff for that money. When we shop competitively, with all those “savings,” we often increase the limit bit by bit, telling ourselves that we would have spent so much more if the prices were higher! Oh, what we have saved!

It's a rationalization (some call it an ethical trap): a way of convincing ourselves it's okay to buy things we probably don't need.

How to avoid the competitive urge
What can you do to stay out of the competitive fury that will surely end up costing you money, while still (sometimes) taking advantage of great deals? Here are a few things to try:

  • Make a list of what you want to buy before looking at any holiday circulars or sales emails. Stick to it.
  • Consider your expenditure of time waiting in line (both at the door and at the register) as well as your savings of money. Maybe you could have spent that time making gifts, or spending time with your family, which they might appreciate more than the extra gifts you were able to afford at that door-buster event.
  • Resist the newly developed desires those sales develop in you. Every year when Cyber Monday rolls around, I often have to shut down Facebook, as I watch all my friends “liking” great sales or see some of the businesses I follow advertising deals on fancy boots or bike bells or pretty sweaters. I had been happily living without desiring those things, until I saw the sale!
  • Recycle the ad pages without looking at them. I have to do this; maybe you're stronger than me, but the only way I can avoid the urge to spend money I can't really afford is not to see the great deals. I open my Thanksgiving morning and Sunday papers and immediately put all the ads into the recycling bin without even glancing at them. It's the best way to stop the crazy want-monster.
  • Pay cash for all your holiday shopping. Not debit, but cash. If you withdraw cash from the bank and take it to the mall, you'll avoid going over budget ,and you'll know you have the money. Even when we use our debit card, studies have shown we are likely to spend more than we can afford. If you're shopping online, you can't use this trick, but you can use your debit card, which is a step in the right direction.

Finally, pay your bills right before you intend to shop. Not only will this perhaps eliminate your ability to shop (it does for me, thanks to my cash-only rule), but you'll be filled with the reality of your financial situation. It's hard to forget you owe twice as much this month for your gas bill and don't really have money to spend on pretty new boots, if you've just paid it!

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Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago

Huh, we need a new waffle iron (ours broke the other month). We missed out.

Amy
Amy
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Yeah, ours just stopped working mid-waffle a month ago. However, I completely forgot about replacing it until I read this article, so I guess it doesn’t qualify as a “need”.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Amy

Ours is currently jury-rigged with duct tape and is probably a safety hazard. I’d say that makes it a need.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Waffles? Really? They’re a sugar bomb with a 3-digit GI.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Not the way we make them. Whole wheat, yeast. Good with nut butter and cream. Lighter than pancakes. A nice treat. Also freeze well and toast well for breakfasts on the go.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I see. Do you ship across state lines?

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Unfortunately wheat isn’t that good for you. Try gluten free with nut flour.

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Yeah, as someone who already can’t eat refined carbs, you’ll have to pry gluten from my cold dead fingers. Unless I actually start showing signs of gluten intolerance, I’m going to continue to be unconvinced by the paleo crowd when it comes to whole grains. Some people can eat refined carbs, some can’t. Some can eat gluten, some can’t. There’s only so much food one person can avoid and stay sane. Not to say nut flour isn’t good, but it’s not going to replace wheat in yeast waffles. Not to mention we no longer live in a city where it’s… Read more »

Jane
Jane
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

The Mennonite More With Less Cookbook also has a recipe for a High Protein waffle with mostly cottage cheese and eggs and only a little bit of flour and sugar. It’s a little denser but still good.

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I was speaking in terms of El Nerdo’s comment about the “sugar bomb”. Making it whole wheat doesn’t make it any less “sugary”. I can’t eat refined carbs either, including and especially gluten. Being someone who had no choice, but to avoid certain food given I was overweight/insulin resistance/PCOS and had GI and skin problems, I feel so much much more “sane” avoiding. Can’t say I’m not a little jealous of some people who can eat whatever though. 😉

You’re right, diet is like PF for sure.

Crystal Stemberger
Crystal Stemberger
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

For those that can’t use real sugar, do the fake ones count? Ideal works great for waffles and baked goods – doesn’t have a weird taste or anything. 🙂

Tippy
Tippy
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

Ok, recipe please 🙂

Would love to have something like this on hand for my husband to just pop in the toaster!

Jacq
Jacq
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I make a decent waffle as follows:
500 g. non fat cottage cheese
4 eggs
6 T oat OR wheat bran
4 T splenda
1/8 c. flour
cinnamon – maybe a tsp?
1/3 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Blend it all up.

Also make one with 1 scoop vanilla protein powder + 2.5 egg whites + 1/2 tsp baking powder – very dry for sure but it’s all in the service of building muscle.

Best (lower carb) topping I’ve tried is:
2 tsp low fat cream cheese
1-2 tsp vanilla flavored yogurt
1 tsp cool whip

MoneyforCollegePro
MoneyforCollegePro
8 years ago

my wife and I did all of our Christmas shopping on our cruise we took over Thanksgiving. We had a set amount of money to spend in cash, and we bought all of our gifts from local craftsmen (and some nice duty free items!)

Obviously the expense of the cruise was for a vacation, but we double dipped and did our shopping as well. I guarantee you it was a much more pleasant experience than standing in a Wal-Mart in the cold, waiting for the stores to open up.

Cathy
Cathy
8 years ago

I hate all the stupid Black Friday hype. I read somewhere that the stores are finding that it reduces shopping the week before and after and this year they are not sure how many people bought gifts and how many used the sales to get bargains on everyday things (like diapers,etc.). I wish the stores would stop. Before we know it, that will replace thanksgiving altogether.

getagrip
getagrip
8 years ago
Reply to  Cathy

I echo the sentiment. I’ve now made it a policy not to buy anything on the Friday after Thanksgiving and am thinking I’ll stop taking the day off and go to work instead. Not that I expect my lack of participation to have any effect. Each year the stores have openned earlier and earlier so that at this rate in another ten years or so they’ll be opening at 4 am on Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving will become known as black Thursday.

Emily Hunter
Emily Hunter
8 years ago

Darn, I missed out on all of the great waffle irons on sale just for me! It gets difficult to watch those people run out of the house and try to grab everything possible, though I have to admit that I’m guilty of trying to take advantage of closeout sales in much the same respect – such good deals, never offered again, blows the budget every single time.

Black Friday just scares me, but I hope that more folks learn from the idiocy.

Dogs or Dollars
Dogs or Dollars
8 years ago

Good post! I like equating it to gambling. With consumer warfare that goes on, it’s certainly just as cutthroat. I’m a big fan of your parents advice. Not buying anything is always the cheapest option. In BF’s of years past, I’ve definitely a) shopped for myself and b) bought things I wasnt intending to. This year, my anti-BF ammo was really to reflect on those past purchases and realize how much of that crap I dont have anymore. The answer? Most of it. The only BF purchased item I know is still in our house is a set of sheet.… Read more »

Diedra B
Diedra B
8 years ago

we gave away our waffle iron this year. . . it was just taking up space and I’ll be darned if I let someone convince me to buy a new one. Pancakes are just fine by me.

Joe
Joe
8 years ago

I guess my wife and I have been doing OK with our Black Friday shopping adventures. Usually we end up getting a few gifts for people at good prices, recently we have been getting things for ourselves (again, at good prices). I do my best to keep extra items out of our cart, and it has been doing OK so far. We still probably spend too much on gifts for other people… but we can afford it, and are still putting money in savings. on a side note, I REALLY wanted to boycott Kohls this year for their use of… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Joe

I didn’t know what you were talking about and I had to go and google “rebecca black friday”. My brain still hurts. Curse my curiosity.

Pamela
Pamela
8 years ago

Huh. I also save headaches and loads of irritation by not shopping on Black Friday. Though I always suspected the whole bait and switch (or bait and overfeed). I can’t indulge in the shopping forays anyway as I have a small place and only have so much room to store the booty from great sales.

Michael
Michael
8 years ago
Reply to  Pamela

I’ve been told that Black Friday items are manufactured at a lower quality to help price it at such low prices.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
8 years ago
Reply to  Michael

I know that’s often the case with Boxing Day sales here in Canada. Hit the stores and you’ll find cheap goods the stores didn’t have before Christmas.

That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. I know people who go to boxing day sales to pick up items (clothing, yarn for blankets, etc) for charity, and the sales really can make your budget go farther.

Katie Schulz
Katie Schulz
8 years ago

I’ve been to one BF sale. It was 4 years ago and all I bought was an espresso maker. It was my boyfriend’s Christmas present that year. I didn’t bother getting to the store super early as I had a sneaking suspicion that most people waiting in line were not there for the espresso maker. I walked into the store 10 minutes after it opened, headed for the small appliances, grabbed the espresso maker and was out the door in less than 5 minutes. He still uses it on a daily basis so I think I got a pretty good… Read more »

Sam
Sam
8 years ago

As a household we use our debit card almost 100% of the time. I was interested in the author’s statement that studies have shown that even when using debit we spend more than when using cash. I’ve been looking, looking, looking for a study on spending habits when using debit cards and I have never found one. The link in this post was a bust, just linked to another article that made the statement that studies have shown . . . We use our debit card because keeping track of cash was just too hard, we can downloand our debit… Read more »

Nicole
Nicole
8 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Gilbert

That’s probably a recent article by Lowenstein. He’s been having trouble getting it published, last I heard, because the way he incentivized people to use the card rather than cash involved giving them more money if they used the card instead of cash. Even though they wouldn’t get that money until later, it still could have made them feel wealthier and thus affected their spending. In JD’s grey box in that article he links to some other articles that come at the issue in different ways. None of them are perfect, but they are suggestive. Another important thing that many… Read more »

Sam
Sam
8 years ago
Reply to  Sarah Gilbert

There is a credit card study as after much searching I found the actual study abstract. I’ve never found a study comparing debit card spending to cash or credit cards and I would really like to see one.

Here is the recent credit card study abstract http://www.jstor.org/pss/10.1086/661730

Self study is important, I’m one who spent more with credit cards even though I always paid it off. Debit cards work for us b/c we limit the amount of money available to spend on the debit card through our allowance system.

Amber
Amber
8 years ago
Reply to  Nicole

I am totally like Nicole with my spending. If I have cash in hand, then Oh I might as well stop at the farmer’s market and buy that awesome chocolate milk at $8/gal, then oh I do love that necklace, maybe I could give it as a gift, of course I need a cupcake … and on and on and on. The money is gone. When I shop on my card, I think about the purchase more and I realize that I am inconveniencing the business owner to process the card, so I try to spend enough to make it… Read more »

Michael
Michael
8 years ago
Reply to  Sam

I support using debit cards, too. I have a Bank of America checking account and they allow you to set daily limits on your debit card. Just go online and change the limits for withdrawals and purchases. It’s pretty neat.

DollarStretcher
DollarStretcher
8 years ago

The real news about Black Friday 2011 is how stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day. It’s only a matter of time now until retailers will stop closing on Thanksgiving entirely. IMO the mega sales aren’t as good as they were back in the 90s anyway.

Hearing about people going to all this trouble to save a little money on a waffle iron or whatever baffles me. Would these same people wake up at 4am to work an extra part-time job at the mall over the holidays to actually make money?

Michael
Michael
8 years ago

“Make a list of what you want to buy before looking at any holiday circulars or sales emails. Stick to it.” I hate black Friday, and shopping in general, but I’m going to play devil’s advocate on the list thing. If you stick to the list you can miss out on saying “yes!” to unexpected deals. I would argue instead to decide how much you want to spend on each person you’re giving to. So if you were going to buy your kid a star wars lego thing for $40, but you’re at the store and see a great deal… Read more »

Angela
Angela
8 years ago

I absolutely LOVE the last piece of advice – Pay your bills just before you head out to shop. A cold dose of reality is just what i need before I head out to a store.

Shopping online also helps me maintain my focus. It’s easier for me to visit a website, select just the items I need, and ignore the other pretty temptations. That’s more difficult for me in a brick and mortar store.

cc
cc
8 years ago

i am the polar opposite of all you lovely, reasonable and frugal people. i LOVE SHOPPING and the recession has just beaten me to a pulp. black friday rolled around, and my husband could see how much i wanted to go so we went out on thanksgiving (and had a great time!) my mom and i also hit black friday proper but here the thing: -thanksgiving, old navy was having mad sales, my husband needed a coat and i haven’t bought any clothes for myself in years. our total was $80 for a coat, sweater and a couple of shirts.… Read more »

Barbara
Barbara
8 years ago
Reply to  cc

I haven’t done that in years but when my daughter was a teenager and a young adult we’d enjoy shopping on the Thanksgiving weekend and going out for a “girls only” lunch. It was a pretty stress-free time though as we don’t buy much for the holidays and we used it as a time to just get out and browse. We probably bought a treat or two for ourselves along the way so it wasn’t totally benign!

cc
cc
8 years ago
Reply to  Barbara

momma and i totally did the black friday lunch while the men were hiding from the madness at home! good times.

Russell
Russell
8 years ago

I’m sorry to say that we went to Walmart on Thanksgiving night, but the waffle irons were long gone by the time we got there, 30 minutes after they went on sale. We almost got some of their other $2 kitchen gadgets, but we realized we didn’t need a cheap piece of junk cluttering up our kitchen.

I do remember looking around Walmart, though, and thinking how I would love to be in Walmart’s position and have people fighting among themselves to throw their money at me.

Helen
Helen
8 years ago

I love the simple yet very effective ‘to save money, don’t spend it’ section. Seems so obvious but in this voucher driven world we’re living in now people think they’re saving by using a money off voucher on a product they wouldn’t have been buying in the first place. I suppose with working at an accounting firm, I’m just interested in spending habits…and saving! 🙂

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Helen

I agree. That part of the post kind of reminded me of those Walmart commercials that keep saying “with the money we saved on these essentials, we bought this and this!”

I always wanted to say “why not stick with the essentials and actually save the difference?” Our society seems to want as much as possible for as cheap as possible, but the best deal is not to buy.

PB
PB
8 years ago

I went shopping on Black Friday (or however it was designated then) in downtown Philadelphia about 30 years ago and was traumatized for life! Never again. I just shop throughout the year, stash things in my gift closet, pull them out when needed, and make holiday lists from that. And budget. And leave a small amount for splurges (after all, stockings for adults need silly things!)

LennStar
LennStar
8 years ago

And don’t believe what you read in blogs or whereever on the net about how good something is.

You won’t believe how many “write a review on X. You can be critical, but overall it must be positive” orders there are on cheap-writing sites. You just won’t believe it. Or “describe hotel Y”. The biggest order I know of was about 1700 from one client in one day. That was propably every single hotel on the southern cost of Spain 😉

Jane
Jane
8 years ago
Reply to  LennStar

I’ve been looking for some freelance writing gigs, and I have certainly noticed jobs for review writing as well. I find it disturbing. At the very least, it has made me skeptical about reviews now.

Amber
Amber
8 years ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane, where do you look for these jobs? I am interested. Thanks.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago

Costco had some nice Crockpots for $20 for Black Friday– not just Friday but that whole weekend. Now they are $40. I missed out. I won’t buy it for $40 but for $20 it’s an experiment worth trying.

I did spend that wekend in a cabin in the sticks though– it was delicious. Worth lots more than $20. But yeah I’m still sore about the damn slow cookers cuz I’ve been meaning to get one for a while but I won’t take the plunge at full price.

Rosa
Rosa
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

do you have any kitchen gadgets you don’t use? You could have a holiday kitchen-crap-we-don’t-need swap and probably get a slow cooker – seems like lots of people I know have 2 or 3 for some reason. We usually just put the word out at a party or on Facebook – hey, we would like to borrow a… It almost always turns out someone we know has one sitting in their basement not being used. I have some large specialty items (an airpot that serves 48, a full-size roasting pan, a hand-cranked pasta machine) that only get used a few… Read more »

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  Rosa

I spent last Saturday at my local flea market and raked in $400 in cash plus about $100 worth of knives (in trade) selling my trash. Showed up at 7, left by noon, that’s like a $100/hour job. Not bad! Only thing is, I’m now junk-free. As for borrowing: YES. great idea. my wife’s parents are the ones who bought it at Costco that cursed weekend, and when I saw it I was “oh nice, how much was that” and her mom “$20” and me “wottt?”… so I went to look for it the following week and it was $40… Read more »

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

There are crock pots by the dozen in thrift shops.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

ah, yes… unfortunately, other people’s grimy and worn-out kitchen wares have zero appeal to me. yes i know i could save a few bucks, but if that thing ever catches fire in my home i wanna be able to sue the manufacturer.

Carla
Carla
8 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

@El Nerdo – It depends on the item and brand. Yes, you can buy a family sized crock pot for $40 on Amazon which will probably last longer than a grungy $10 one at a yard-sale. But when it comes brands such as Vitamix – where you can buy a $400 blender at a fraction of the cost that will last for decades or Le Creuset cookware that will last a lifetime (I’m into buying things once), its worth it to wait it out and buy used because the retail price is so high and the used quality is just… Read more »

ginger
ginger
8 years ago

Timely post, and thank you for it. I’ve never shopped on Black Friday, but I have observed the chaos. My husband and youngest (now grown) daughter braved Black Friday once several years ago, and each swear they will never do it again. This year, I wrapped up my Christmas shopping early. Still, there’s a coupon in my wallet for a department store. The coupon expires today. It’s one of those “scratch off at the register” thingies, so it could be as much as 50% off the lovely, treasured item I choose. Thing is, I don’t need anything right now, and… Read more »

Jacob
Jacob
8 years ago

The deals are just not what they used to be, the things I wanted this year I got online for nearly the same price as Black Friday. I have been saying this for a while, you can get just about any thing you can get on BF, online anytime of year, via ebay craigslist, or deal websites like slickdeals.net

KarenJ
KarenJ
8 years ago

Although I don’t get caught up in the Black Friday hype, I have been guilty of this with those “daily deal” websites, buying from online grocery stores, restaurants, wineries, etc. because it’s a good deal, not necessarily because I really need these products. My husband has often joked that we should put a loading ramp up by the front door! My “resolution” for 2012 is to curb my enthusiasm for online or deals of any type. Good article!

chacha1
chacha1
8 years ago

I only really “go shopping” a couple of times a year, but one of them is usually over the holidays. New Year’s Day is often a good day, especially in the morning, heh. I like the decorations and the music and the generally better mood that people are in.

My mom used to make waffles at home. IMO, having a waffle iron is just one more way to guarantee that you have no excuse to go out for brunch.

Kathryn
Kathryn
8 years ago

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away–(okay, it was really only 20-some years ago on the other side of town, but I digress) I worked in retail. I disliked the weekend and holiday work, so after a couple years, I left and started office work. I really hated having to work the Friday after Thanksgiving, and I love that I don’t have to now. I don’t shop on “Black” Friday because if I shop, I’m expecting someone to be at work. If nobody comes in to shop, they don’t need to be open and maybe they’ll… Read more »

Laura
Laura
8 years ago
Reply to  Kathryn

“I don’t shop on “Black” Friday because if I shop, I’m expecting someone to be at work. If nobody comes in to shop, they don’t need to be open and maybe they’ll get that day off next year.”

Yes. Yes. Yes. This, along with a dislike for BF madness, is *exactly* why I won’t shop on BF.

BB
BB
8 years ago
Reply to  Kathryn

Every Federal employee has to work on BF; most banks are open, as are doctors’ and vets’ offices.
A lot of people are grateful for the opportunity to work and maybe make some extra money (paid holiday pay) on BF.

imelda
imelda
8 years ago
Reply to  BB

And a lot of people are grateful to have the time off to spend with their families….

But thinking of it your way is much more convenient!!

Kay
Kay
8 years ago
Reply to  imelda

I guess you’ve never been in a position where you struggled to pay bills, etc.

OnABudget...Always
OnABudget...Always
8 years ago

I always thought most folks buying multiples like that waffle iron are immediately turning around and reselling at a small profit. I know a guy who lost his job, and that is what he does for a living now.

Wasn’t there an article about that on this site a while back?

Nadine
Nadine
8 years ago

My SIL tried that with the wii fit when it was the must have toy of the year. I think she bought 4 kept one for herself and then tried to sell the other three. Only she didn’t manage to sell all three before christmas and after christmas you couldn’t sell them for above retail so I think she lost money on that.

Kelly
Kelly
8 years ago

Yeah, great psychological hack, Sarah – bill paying always makes me tighten the purse strings. 🙂

Beth
Beth
8 years ago
Reply to  Kelly

I loved this tip too!

This time of year, I use my credit card to shop sometimes but I go home and pay it off right away. That way I always know how much money I’ve got at my disposal and I don’t have any debt to haunt me in January.

Emily
Emily
8 years ago

It’s sick the way a season that was intended to be focused on being grateful for what we have has turned into a frenzy of greed and materialism.

Lori
Lori
8 years ago

this time of year is a great time for making purchases you need to make anyway. i see no reason to avoid black friday if you aren’t susceptible to making impulse purchases. last year i managed to combine coupons to get my teenager a parka for 25 bucks; he’ll probably wear it for years. we worked the clothing sales to buy jeans for $10 and shirts for $5. and so on. we refresh our wardrobes now, when the sales are crazy – and we purchased summer clothes as well, also at rock-bottom prices. when stores compete against one another, it’s… Read more »

Carla
Carla
8 years ago

My guess is the folks leaving the store with 10 waffle irons *are* working in a way since they figure they might be able to sell it and make a profit. But I figure they were reject models from the previous year that the company want to discard so they charge $2 for it to make it look like a good deal. I never shopped Black Friday the conventional way with standing in line before dawn, and running into the store like pigs to a troff, but I have stopped myself from buying things from cell phones to certain hair… Read more »

Roy Marvelous
Roy Marvelous
8 years ago

I love this term “competitive shopping” because that’s exactly what it is huh? Shopping meets mass hysteria. First things first – what do you need? So what if you can save 90% on an item – you don’t need it, it’s money down the drain anyway.

Matt, Tao of Unfear
Matt, Tao of Unfear
8 years ago

I have never bought anything during Black Friday. However, I do still like to go for the nostalgia–when we were little, we would go every year with our grandmother, in the car by 4am, and get our years supply of socks. Haha. You did mention making a list of the things you were going to buy, and I did check the Black Friday ads this year for a laptop, since I’m wanting to go mobile (hard with a desktop). Still, I didn’t find anything that met my requirements for price and features, so I didn’t buy anything. It’s also important… Read more »

Matt, Tao of Unfear
Matt, Tao of Unfear
8 years ago

Also, the waffle iron I used belonged to my former roommate. I could totally go for waffles right now.

Beth
Beth
8 years ago

I was disappointed to see Black Friday coming north this year. It’s just a regular week to those of us in Canada, but retailers wanted to stop the bleeding of cross border shopping. I really hope we don’t adopt the same craziness — then again, all we see on the news here are the extremes. What’s driving me nuts is all the flash sales. It’s so hard to keep track that I just don’t bother. The good news if that if you miss one sale, competitors seem to offer the same deal at some point. I just keep reminding myself… Read more »

Michael
Michael
8 years ago
Reply to  Beth

“I just keep reminding myself that there’s always going to be another sale. No need to feel pressured to buy something until I’ve thought it through.”

Great point. No need to pressure yourself into spending money. Something better or equally as good will come along if you miss an opportunity.

AFY
AFY
8 years ago

Funny thing for me is, Black Friday’s actually my prime savings (on purchases) time. I follow sites like Slickdeals and FatWallet, so I know when things I want are priced low or are featuring a good deal. Since my primary interests usually revolve around consumer electronics, BF is often a great time to buy those things, since I like to wait until prices drop as low as possible before I buy anything. It’s not uncommmon for me to do most of my personal shopping for a year (as well as some Xmas shopping) on a stomach full of turkey! tl;dr… Read more »

Shauna
Shauna
8 years ago

I’ve kind of always assumed that Black Friday was the day when retailers can easily dump stuff that doesn’t sell particularly well otherwise (like waffle irons), by bringing the price down a little bit and relying on people fooling themselves that they have to buy it NOW, because tomorrow it won’t be available at that price. I’ve tried the suggestions of shopping for what you already need, but it seems like that stuff is never on sale. I also tried looking at the online deals, but inevitably the things, models, styles I was interested in were not the things marked… Read more »

thefrugallery
thefrugallery
8 years ago

Personally, I picket Black Friday shopping. It always amazes me what people will spend their time and money on. They are so fixated on what they have saved that they ignore how much they have spent. They go in for one thing and buy ten more because they are a “good deal.” Any savings are quickly erased with impulse purchases. The best way to stay on track with savings is just to avoid them altogether. Shop year round on the clearance racks and you’ll have everything you need by next Christmas (at a much lower price!)

Heather
Heather
8 years ago

I disagree with you on so many counts here. First off, you can’t make a list of stuff to buy for christmas and THEN look at the ads–at best, set a budget and stick to it. But more importantly if you never look at the ads, you’ll never know if something is on sale that you’ve been wanting. As someone who never buys anything at “full price,” ads are what helps me buy the things I need. * One year the 4 year old asked for a Barbie car (the kind you can ride in)–they’re $500, no way she was… Read more »

Heather
Heather
8 years ago
Reply to  Heather

Something else I’ve found: By constantly keeping track of sales and ads at the places I like to shop and the things I like to buy, I KNOW what is a good deal. Some BF sales aren’t any better than the quarterly deals you can get throughout the year. Some are fantastic. I’ve also found that because I am constantly inundated with advertising from the sales flyers, emails, and paid surveys, I get pretty desensitized to it all; very jaded. My general spending has dropped by about 50% since I started keeping track of the ads this much. I find… Read more »

Julie Gaudet
Julie Gaudet
8 years ago

I can’t deny that there is a sense of excitement that runs through me when I buy something on sale. This is a deep routed goal that was set unconsciously when we were young by my parents trying to detract us as kids asking for everything we could get our hands on at the store. That being said we as adults are molding this thought process to be excited when we get something that we need and its on sale 🙂

Jonathan
Jonathan
8 years ago

Excellent thoughts. I also think that this can apply to food shopping, it’s best to avoid food shopping when hungry. Creating a list (i.e. a plan) is always the best option for me.

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