Black Friday. It's that time again. A time of gratitude, turkey (in the US), and crazy purchasing mania that makes me nauseous. But I'll save you the lecture I really want to give about externalities, sweatshops, and consumerism. My Black Friday mantra? Just say no.
Ever since the one time I went Boxing Day shopping as a teenager, I will admit I've had a strong aversion to big sales and blitzes. The hungry crowds are too much for me. But nowadays even though the internet would let me easily avoid the mayhem, thanks to the blessing in disguise of a home with little storage space and the budget consciousness bestowed upon me by my health collapse, I've been working on being more conscious and conscientious about what I spend money on.
I like to make most decisions based on these factors:
- Is it truly special and something I want to keep for a very long time (ideally 5-10 years or more)?
This could be something like a beautiful sweater, or a piece of art. I think it's okay to buy things occasionally when I really love them and want to give them a space in my life for a long time.
- Is it a necessity, or does it promote good health?
Focus on quality over quantity for material items (then they last longer!) Necessities could be anything from socks and undies, to healthy food, to eco-friendly cleaning products. Health promoting purchases could be vitamins, a yoga mat, or drop-in time at the swimming pool.
- Does it enrich my life?
This is a trickier one, where I really have to have more self control because it's a bit more vague. Things in this category would be books (ones I think I'll either keep a long time or lend to friends - otherwise library loans or digital copies might be better), art supplies, stationery, plants...
Don't get me wrong, the impulse to buy is strong, those marketing folks know what they're doing! I find that the best way for me to avoid buying things I don't really need or aren't really that important is just not to go in the shop at all (whether it be a physical or online shop). Window shopping (on the street or say, on Facebook) is okay if you have enough self control to appreciate the item but not proceed into the store to purchase it. But don't go in the shop unless you are ready to spend your money, because once that door is open and you're inside, it's going to be that much harder to resist.
Finally, a note about the idea of spending your Black Friday money at small or indie businesses instead of big box stores. While the spirit of this is good, I feel like smaller businesses have been almost forced onto the supersale bandwagon so they don't lose out as much to the big behemoths. But when you buy less, you have a little more to spend, right? Thing about buying a few days before or after the sale (or just don't use that discount code if it's online), and paying the full price so you really are supporting local or indie businesses that you love and helping keep them alive!
Just today I saw an sale ad from an independent sewing pattern designer I love, Grainline Studio, which reminded me that I'd been planning on buying one of her skirt patterns to sew. But when I went to the online shop, I didn't enter the discount code, and I didn't save that $2. I love the work that Jen from Grainline is doing, and I appreciate how hard it is running a business. I wanted to support her and her awesome work by not taking a cut rate on a product she's poured her heart and soul into, and for which charges an already completely reasonable rate.
Just some food for thought. While all this talk about gratitude is going around, it's important to remember how much we already have, and how we can actually show it with the choices we make.