In the US, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, but it doesn’t just mean basting turkey and getting stuffed on hearty homemade dinner – especially here in Ireland since we don’t really celebrate Thanksgiving. What it does mean, however, for us, our friends in the US and pretty much everyone around the world, is that Black Friday is also just around the corner. That paired with November pay checks coming through and the upcoming Christmas craze, for many Black Friday is an exciting and welcome event.
But with the moderate to downright crazy price drops this can quickly turn into Black Friday Madness, with people trying to buy as much as possible just because it’s… cheap.
And if you wonder at this point, what’s wrong with that? There is a number of things that make up the answer:
- Unnecessary spendings – it’s great if you can afford it, but oftentimes your bank account gets depleted faster than you realise that you didn’t really need this dress #99 because you already own about 5 of the same style.
- Unnecessary clutter – is your home completely bare that you could do with some extra decor? Or is your wardrobe so skinny that you don’t know what to wear on 4 days out of 5? Or maybe it’s the opposite, and you, in fact, have so much stuff that it becomes difficult to find something exciting every morning among the 300 items in your wardrobe?
- Unnecessary waste – just think how we overproduce and over-package things nowadays? Consumerism is on the rise, manufacturing industries are booming, landfills are multiplying in size and numbers, and our planet is slowly dying…
The environmental impact of our consumerism is very high, but so is its toll on our wellbeing, happiness and mental health.
Owing more things does not make us richer. It creates an illusion of wealth, yes – but it makes us culturally and morally poorer.
Owing more things does not make us happier. The feeling of reward after making a purchase is very fleeting in the majority of cases. The more we get, the more we want. If anything, it makes us greedier.
Only a few items truly add value to our lives, but most material possessions don’t. So how can you navigate this Black Friday wisely? What is ok and what is not ok to buy? Let’s take a look.
The Basic Rules of Buying Smart:
Needs vs Wants
Separating needs from wants is something we try to teach our children but do not necessarily follow ourselves. Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that buying something just because you want it is bad. It can be good but all comes down to how much you buy, how sustainable those things are and how much waste they create. Buying a 100th pair of Nike shoes just to stack the box on top of 99 others in your wardrobe isn’t going to make you happier or make the planet a greener place. So what’s the point? Instead you could do better by investing the money into something you truly need or something that will add value.
Assess your possessions
Before you even look into indulging in Black Friday shopping, assess what you currently have in your household. Declutter and sort things – but do so smartly by donating, selling, repurposing or recycling the unwanted things. See what requires to be replaced, what’s a priority, and go from there.
Quality over Quantity
Quality costs more than quantity, and is an investment rather than a spending, but there is a number of benefits to it: it reduces mass production and consumerism and generally means less waste, it lasts longer, is more likely to be a pleasurable experience and more likely to be taken care of. There is a psychological aspect to this too: when we buy something cheap, the brain knows its expendable, disposable or replaceable; as a result we don’t take proper care of it and don’t hesitate to throw it in a bin the moment we tire of it. Buying something of a higher quality and cost changes that perspective and we automatically treasure it more and tend to get the most out of it before we make a decision to retire the item.
Beware of marketing
Marketing is a very powerful tool that infiltrated every nook and cranny of our modern lives. There is marketing on the TV, in magazines, on web pages, radio shows, social media, bus stops and even emails. While it is impossible to avoid it all, reducing your consumption of marketing can help curb the temptation that sales strategists carefully develop to trap you in. The less more you see, the more you spend. The less you see… you know. To help yourself avoid overspending and over consuming during the Black Friday sales (and in general), unsubscribe from as much email marketing as possible, unfollow social media accounts of shops and brands, watch less TV and listen to less radio. Chances are, you don’t need all that stuff anyway. And when you truly do need something, you go and search for that specifically. You don’t need to browse a 500-page catalogue to see what you may “need” to buy.
Do not fall victim of ‘Cheap’ or ‘Free’
Black Friday or any other sales is not an invitation to buy something you don’t need only because it is now cheap. Cheap or not, if you don’t need it, the bottom line is you don’t need it. You don’t go buying a second car when your current one is running fine just because that other car is cheap, right? So why should it be different for everything else? Discounted prices only help you to save money when it is something you need. If you don’t need it but buy it anyway because it is on sale, you still spend money. Buying one to get one free only works when you need two of the same thing (or at least know that you will need it soon and will use it up). If you don’t need the second item, it doesn’t make any difference whether you paid for it or not, you still don’t need it. These are all the traps the marketers want you to fall into. Don’t buy it.
Things You Shouldn’t Buy This Black Friday
Now that we’ve laid some ground rules, it should be pretty obvious what you shouldn’t buy this Black Friday, even if it comes with an attractive ‘90% OFF’ price tag. The list below is not exhaustive and will entirely depend on your situation, but in general, unless you need something specific (that you can look up on sales and save money) you shouldn’t buy:
- Clothes, shoes and other fashion items
- Makeup, beauty products and toiletries
- Home and kitchen appliances
- New devices
The only two good reasons to invest in these items are 1) you don’t have one of these items and it is required, or it is no longer fit for purpose and you need replacement; 2) it is a birthday/Christmas/any other occasion gift. If it’s a gift, make sure it is a thoughtful and a wanted one. If you’re unsure, a gift card is a much better option.
Things That Are OK To Buy This Black Friday
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Besides the above-mentioned items if they are genuinely needed, there is a number of other things you can invest into that can both add value and not contribute to the global problem of overproduction, consumerism, waste and environmental crisis. Buying these items while on sale or deals offers an extra bonus of saving money. These items can be:
- Education and digital courses
- Web hosting if you are a website owner (we recommend going green!)
- Reusable items where you are currently using disposable alternatives:
- Kitchen items (such as reusable storage containers, beeswax wraps, reusable washcloths, water filtration system, etc.)
- Personal hygiene items (reusable makeup removing mitts, reusable period underwear or reusable pads, menstrual cups, etc.)
- Gym membership, yoga, dance or workout classes
- Workout or nutrition plans, provided that you need one
- A holiday or trip you always wanted to go on
- Thoughtful, meaningful Christmas gifts for your loved ones
These are just a few ideas of what to invest your money to add value to your life and wellbeing. Again, the list is not exhaustive but you get the gist. Don’t go crazy just because it’s cheap, think twice before you buy and consider the environmental and personal impact before you buy.
I hope this helps! And if you happen to celebrate the Thanksgiving this week, then