In the US, the day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday” which is the official launch of holiday shopping. Some even start on Thanksgiving, which is usurping the best family holiday in America, for people to spend money. If you are an American or know one, you know that Americans like to do two things more than anything else – be entertained and buy stuff.
I have written before about ways to save money, as we have too many folks who want yours. Let me use this Black Friday to rehash a few of them and speak to the holiday season where buying gifts is done in excess. If you follow a few of these, you will end up with more money to live better, have less stress, retire earlier, and be more in control of your life. In no particular order:
– you don’t need to participate in Black Friday. Trust me, the retailers will get desperate closer to Christmas and layer in discounts. You will also be less tempted to buy if you take your time.
– speak with your family and friends about gift giving. Maybe you could limit the giving to the kids or have a charity donation for adults donating a small sum to a favorite charity of the recipient.
– for year-round, do not play the lottery. I have written several posts on this, but my favorite line is from John Oliver who stated your chances of winning the lottery are the same as being struck by lightning while being bitten by a shark. Save the $10 a week and at year-end you will have $520 plus interest.
– for borrowing, tear up all credit cards but one or two. You do not need more than that. My wife and I get 3 to 5 offers a week for new cards. You get very popular when you manage your debt and save a lot of money.
– do not borrow from pay-day lenders. They are one step above leg-breakers and you will quickly spiral into a rabbit hole of debt with over a 1000% interest rate. I am not making this up. This is about the worst thing you could do if in trouble.
– be wary of credit consolidators. They are not all created equal, so do your homework. Also, there are a number of non-profit advisors who can help you consolidate or manage your debt.
– be wary of for-profit colleges which are 5 to 6 times the cost of community colleges. A rule of thumb, the bigger the celebrity advertising the college, the worse its record for graduating. These colleges prey on veterans, spend more on marketing than education and graduate less than 15% of their students.
– if you have no health coverage, sign up for the Affordable Care Act at http://www.healthcare.gov. Subsidies to pay for premiums are available up to $95,000 in income for a family of four, higher if a larger family and lower if smaller. Healthcare coverage will get you doing preventive medicine rather than reactive medicine and keep you from going bankrupt.
– if you work, save in your 401(k) plan or something similar. Using payroll deduction, it is like paying yourself first, especially when the employer will match your savings.
– walk more, drive less. Many stores are within walking distance, so if not buying many things grab a tote bag and walk. Your health and the environment will benefit, plus most accidents occur within a mile of your home. And, with one bag, you have to limit your buying.
Finally, be wary of scammers. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Many scammers prey on church and association leaders to get at others, prey on the elderly with confusion, and prey on everyone with fear (IRS scams, power shut off scams, computer repair scams, etc.). If someone offers you a potential high rate of return with no risk of loss, it is a scam.
If you do all of these things, great. If you know someone who would benefit from the advice of an old fart, please send them this link. Always remember, you do not have to buy anything except food, water, minimal clothing, transportation and shelter. The rest becomes wants and can be managed. Happy holidays.
Great advice Keith! My SIL and I have a tradition of shopping on Black Friday, NOT Thanksgiving and we don’t go crazy! Its just our regular Christmas shopping and definitely not all day! A few hours is enough for us.
So true about the lottery and getting struck by lightning. My soon to be Ex-bil has wasted sooo much money on the lottery for years! Still believing he can win big some day!
Thanks Joy. Sounds like you have it down on the shopping. As for the soon to be ex-bil lottery player, he needs to be reminded only the winners make the headlines. The millions of losers do not. Keith
We do! The funny thing is we started it for the purpose of just getting out of the house when the kids were little. We would spend more time chatting than actual shopping as we walked through the stores. 🙂
Oh yes, about the millions of losers!
Joy, I fully understand the need to socialize. Keith
I’ve never really understood the Black Friday phenomena, but then again, shopping is not a favourite past time.
VJ, I am with you. As a boy, I had too many shopping outings with my determined and organized mother. We shopped all day, it seemed. Keith
Ugh – a nightmare, lol.
Note to Readers: Since we throw so much food away in our country (roughly 40% of what we grow), be mindful the dates on cans, packages, etc. are usually suggestions of “best by this date.” So, don’t toss out so much food and within reason, be a leftover fiend. My wife and I are opposites on this. She will eat leftovers once, maybe twice if its rice or noodles.. Depending on what they are, I will go deeper into the week.
All sage advice, Keith.
I like John Oliver’s line about lottery tickets. Another good one: your chances of winning the lottery are about the same whether or not you buy a ticket. (Not totally accurate, but also not that far off…)
Annie, your lottery example is much closer to accurate than not. Plus, it is an attention getter. Keith
As always, we must not forget to use that part between our two ears.
Erika, no question. If we use that space more judiciously, we could save a lot of money and improve our environment and health. Keith
I completely agree!
Thank you Keith for spelling out principles I’ve tried to follow and have hopefully inculcated into my kids.
The scourge of Black Friday infected unvaccinated Australia via Amazon. Thanksgiving is not recognised here, so I can’t see why tarnation we’d celebrate by spending, the Black Friday after.
Down Under, the adjective ‘Black’ is applied to a National or State tragedy in fact almost exclusively bushfires.
From the chaotic traffic jams of Philadelphia, retailers birthed a monster.
David, it seems retailers will take and have taken advantage of every older and newer holiday to sell more products. And, most Black Friday sales are for the buyer. People want your money. Keith
Great advice, Keith. I have a similar post about not jumping on the consumer bandwagon in the works. Hopefully more and more people are trying to cut back on the craziness of uber consumption.
Uber spending is an apt term.
Hi Keith.. I so agree with you and the truth is there are better deals right up to the end.. well, i guess with the covid issue and items being late that is a fear for a lot of people. 💖👏👏👏
Cindy, thanks. There are supply issues, but the fear is used to sell faster and more. Janis has a good post today on gift buying suggestions – buy food, experiences or time for others. Keith
PS – If you don’t know Janis, her comment is right above yours.
its great fear tactic for sure Keith. i love the perishable gifts for sure! you’re so welcome!💖
Cindy, my sister usually gives us restaurant cards, so I get to thank her again when we use it. Keith