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Why We Avoid Black Friday Like the Black Death

Written by Matt Jabs - 20 Comments

Let me start by wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving holiday from all the writers here at FiveCentNickel. Hopefully you’re spending time with family, eating turkey, and falling asleep while watching the Lion’s lose.

(I can say that since I live in Michigan and am a long-time suffering fan!)

I don’t want to take up a ton of your time today being my usual wordy self, so instead I’ll just jump straight into my list of reasons why I will be avoiding tomorrow’s Black Friday pandemonium like the Black Death.

Reasons we avoid Black Friday

  1. We still have debt! And while we still have it, the responsible thing to do with any available money is to meet our debt obligations before spending it on wants. This is not to say we should not and will not be giving gifts this holiday season – I love to give – but we sure as shootin’ won’t be giving gifts picked up from Black Friday sales.
  2. We like to make our own Christmas gifts instead. It’s cheaper, and more thoughtful. Homemade, personalized gifts help you spend less and love more… All while spending creative time with those you love. For us, this is the only way to go. I’ll leave the all the frantic holiday shopping trips up to those who haven’t yet grown tired of it. If you’re like me and are tired of the hustle and bustle, try changing your holiday spending and focusing on personal connections instead this year.
  3. Most people need less stuff, not more stuff! I can’t think of one person in my life that needs any store bought gift that we could afford to buy. Don’t get me wrong… People have needs, but their needs are nothing that a Black Friday shopping trip is going to be able to fill. Most of the true needs that people have involve paying down their own debt!
  4. The crazy shopper factor! Have you ever been out shopping early on Black Friday? Those people are certified nuts! They get up when normal people go to bed and go wait in huge lines to “save money” on things they mostly don’t need anyway. Rather than fighting traffic, fighting lines, and fighting crowds we will choose instead to sleep in, cook a big hearty breakfast, and lounge around in our pajamas with a mug of our favorite hot beverage (mine is coffee, hers is chai latte). :)
  5. Breaking Free From a Culture of Temptation! To paraphrase from an article I wrote earlier this year:

    ‘Concerning the changes my wife and I have made in our pursuit of financial independence, most people think we’ve gone overboard. You don’t have to go back too far, however, to reach a time when our view was the majority view. In my opinion, this shift in personal financial standards is the result of cultural changes driven by media and advertising. Although we’re now tempted by fewer things, we still have to work to consciously pass our decisions through our filters of frugality. And even after doing so, we sometimes want to buy things that we don’t need.’

Is Black Friday ALL BAD?

All that said, can’t some people use Black Friday to get great deals on things they and their loved ones actually need? Sure, but common sense tells us those shoppers are a mere splinter group of society.

So, while it is possible to use Black Friday as a useful tool to purchase needed items for yourself or loved ones, using it for that is just not that common, and it’s just not for me. While a lot of folks are out there running around like chickens with their heads cut off, we’ll be at home spending time with loved ones, making homemade gifts, and relaxing with fresh ground coffee and hot chai tea!

So what about you?

Are you going to participate in Black Friday shopping this year? Or are you going to avoid it like the Black Death?

Published on November 26th, 2009
Modified on October 4th, 2011 - 20 Comments
Filed under: Frugality

About the author: is a thirty-something IT manager and blogger who wants to help himself and others get out of debt. He writes about personal finance and debt-free living at Debt Free Adventure.

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20 Responses to “Why We Avoid Black Friday Like the Black Death”

  1. 1
    FernWise Says:

    I never do Black Friday shopping. Even when we weren’t in debt I didn’t do it. I suppose coming from a Jewish background helps make the whole Christmas shopping madness seem, well, mad.

    Still, my husband is Christian so we do give some gifts to family. We’d like to send fruit baskets every month of the year to our mothers, to help make sure that they eat right. We can’t afford that, so we’re … uh … mostly *I* am baking cookies or cakes to send them every month. That way we can encourage them to have friends/neighbors over for coffee & sweets and socialize more easily.

    Frondly, Fern

  2. 2
    Wojciech Says:

    We’re still avoiding Black Friday. Although there are a few things here and there that are pretty good deals, I’d rather not get up that early and deal with crazy shoppers. If anything, I might look into Cyber Monday.

    Either way, I think it’s important to save throughout the year if you REALLY need something, and not buy on a whim…especially since Christmas is just around the corner.

  3. 3
    Tuan Says:

    I am not avoiding Black Friday. I am debt free and I have saved up for a budget for a laptop. However, I am not going out as I am hopeful for a deal online even if it’s $50 more than in store, that way I can
    A) Enjoy my Thanksgiving dinner
    B) Get 3 hours of more sleep
    C) Actually have a day to spend on some other mindless tasks such as eating more

  4. 4
    Rosa Rugosa Says:

    Black Death! I’m staying home!

  5. 5
    Noadi Says:

    I plan to do all my black friday shopping from the comfort of my couch and laptop. There are so many online deals that there’s just no reason to venture into the chaos. I’ve already done a lot of my holiday shopping but the last few things I’ll be getting (other than stuff I plan to bake for gifts) I’ll be ordering this weekend.

    Of course the other reason is that I run an online business and this weekend is likely to be busy for me.

  6. 6
    rosebriars Says:

    I am going out for a cheap crockpot (on the verge between need/want) and some new jeans (definite need). If I can get 2 pairs of jeans for $15 it’s worth it. I can get my shopping rush while still being incredibly frugal, and then go home and eat and play. :)

  7. 7
    Heather Says:

    I was borderline. We are up to our eyeballs in student loan debt, but our free 13-wk Sunday-only newspaper subscription apparently included Thanksgiving Day, so I looked at the ads. I wanted to go out and get a $5 SD card and a $10 flash drive as gifts – awesome prices – but your post just convinced me of my insanity to even think of participating. We might be able to get a good deal online, and if not, I guess those people are getting something homemade! (But WHAT do you give to a tech/computer nut besides computer stuff, which you can obviously not make?)

  8. 8
    almost there Says:

    Vet bills avg $400/mo over first 10 months of the year. So, no, not getting into a shopping frenzy. I did black Friday 10 years ago, never again. I did shop online today and buy a 26″ lcd sony hdtv at 30% off msrp. Figure I saved $160 if tax is included. Online is the way to go. Yes, I know, the local gvts need the tax revenue, but seeing how they spend the money I do not feel so bad shopping online.

  9. 9
    LesInk Says:

    Skipping Black Friday here. Reminds me of the joke of the spouse who goes out and shops all day and comes back with a load of stuff and tells the significant other, “I saved you a ton of money — it was all 50% off!”. Hmmm … Black Friday will find you the occassional deal, but if you don’t need, don’t buy it.

    I, for one, don’t need most of the stuff being hocked, but if others see something (usually of the laptop variety), then by all means, go get it.

    Also, I’m hearing that the deals this year are much less than previous years as the stores are having a harder time to justify huge markdowns.

  10. 10
    lostAnnfound Says:

    We used to do Black Friday when the kids were little. Now it just seems to have gotten out of control.

    I went online today & bought a coffee-maker, a software program, and a USB flash drive. Free shipping. That’s it. Nothing out there that gets my attention to much this year.

  11. 11
    John DeFlumeri Jr Says:

    Totally avoid it this year. Read my blog and see what I’m doing instead.

    John DeFlumeri Jr

  12. 12
    Big Spender Says:

    The only “deals” on Black Friday are the big door-buster, loss-leader promotions, where there’s limited stock and you have to get there before the first rooster crows and battle other shoppers.

    Since it’s such a terrible year for retailers, it’s best to wait on their desperation and haggle like there’s no tomorrow the closer we get to Christmas.

    There’s good intel at http://bit.ly/6yh3oo for info on how to negotiate with stores.

  13. 13
    Wayward Says:

    Ever since that one year (1984, I think) that my little sister asked me to get up at 2:00am to drive the 4 hours (she was too young to drive) to Portland for Black Friday sales I’ve sworn off the Black Friday madness. That trip was insane and resulted in more grouchiness than holiday cheer.

    However, the last two years I’ve found myself venturing out on the dreaded day, and the only reason I think I can tolerate it is that—wait for it—I’m not shopping.

    Last year Scoob bought me a new digital camera the day before Thanksgiving to replace the old broken one, but on Black Friday we found that the same camera had been marked down $150. So we ventured out to get a refund. I was amazed that no one was waiting in the returns line and we were in and out in no time. Also, we were doing this in Eugene, OR, a much smaller metro area than either Portland or the Bay Area. Fewer people typically means fewer crazies and the day was actually enjoyable.

    Today, we’re venturing out to San Francisco’s Union Square—SF’s shopping mecca—except again, we’re not going for the shopping. Instead we’re going for the tree-lighting in the evening and hoping to get some good photos.

    Anyhow, I think I’ve finally learned that I don’t need to be a Grinch on Black Friday and barricade myself in the house.

  14. 14
    Victoria Says:

    Fuck this, Black Fridays cool . GO shopping,

    1.If you’re in debt, buy the things that you NEED that are going on sale.

    2. Nobody likes a homemade gift. Seriously, get real.

    3. The more the better, pile up on stuff you actually need.

    4. The crazy shopping factors the best part! Have some fun shopping, go wild.

    “we’ll be at home spending time with loved ones, making homemade gifts, and relaxing with fresh ground coffee and hot chai tea”

    boring, boring, boring. I know my family would rather go shopping than sit around talk about stuff we dont really care about. And besides, WHO ACTUALLY does that!? And again with the homemade gifts! If you want a handmade scarf made by your granny, that’s you. But others want something better.

    Oh, and if you don’t have money to go shopping. Don’t bitch about it on here saying that’s the only reason you’re not going. Because admit it, if you had the extra cash you’d be spending

  15. 15
    FernWise Says:

    Victoria is the reason adults set up the ‘kids table’ at holiday gatherings. It’s to ensure that our spawn don’t make fools of themselves in front of adults we respect.

    Frondly, Fern

  16. 16
    Rosa Rugosa Says:

    Actually, I have a couple of beautiful, fun, colorful hand-knit scarves that I received as gifts, much appreciated. And when Nancy makes us those double-chocolate chunk cookies, we’re in chocolate nirvana! All better than crap from the mall!

  17. 17
    Zella Says:

    We went out today, specifically to get tools that we needed that were on a great sale. If it hadn’t been for the tools though, we wouldn’t have bothered.

    Oh, and we stopped by a farm behind our house to pick up a couple of handmade (by someone else) presents for my mother and friends. I’m always happy to support a local business that I like, no matter what day of the year.

  18. 18
    Hank Says:

    I actually enjoy Black Friday because there is nothing that I “need” to buy. My wife and I use it as a morning to find neat things that we normally wouldn’t or we use it as date morning as well. It is fun watching people go crazy when you are not under pressure yourself.

  19. 19
    Des Says:

    We absolutely go out on Black Friday! We wait to buy many items until then. DH has been wanting a new computer for his graphic design business for several months. He has the money, but I reminded him over and over and over to wait till Black Friday because there would surely be one on sale. Sure enough, the very one he wanted was on sale for $200 less than he was planning on paying, and it came with the monitor he wanted to buy (another $160). He waited in line for 4 hours and saved $360.

    Meanwhile, I picked up two potential wedding gifts at $7 each (its hard to make a decent wedding gift for less than $7), and a blu-ray player for my father-in-law for $78. That might be out of your price range while still in debt, but it is a much higher quality gift than I could have bought him for the same price retail. For that gift, I didn’t save *money*, but I did increase the quality of the gift I am able to give, which was worth the time it took.

    That’s what we tend to do with Black Friday sales. We have a budget for each person on our list. We can get them a $20 gift retail, or a $60 gift for $20 on Black Friday. I am way into gift giving, so it is totally worth the hassle to me.

  20. 20
    John Says:

    I went out, but not early AM. We got to town about 10:00 and I was able to get a tool-chest combo for $290 that is normally $390. I already needed the toolboxes and it’s being paid for by my parent’s business in lieu of them paying me for working. They can write it off as an expense and I don’t have to pay income taxes on it so we all win.

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