Last night I watched the latest episode of Life, which described a murder shortly before a mall opens on Black Friday. The detectives are standing in the path of shoppers who flood the mall at 6 a.m. and all any fiscally sensible person can ask herself is: why? At least, that's what I ask myself, and I'm not alone: so does Jeffrey Strain at MainStreet.
He tells the "Money Sapping Secrets of Black Friday Sales" and gives several reasons why you shouldn't. First: You don't need any of this stuff. (My thinking exactly.) Second: You can use the time you save waiting in line for hours to get the best deals to save yourself money! Without all the aching feet and strained shoulders! Genius. His next several reasons are basically, You're not getting the deal you think you're getting. Supplies are limited. Seasoned "professional" Black Friday shoppers will get the good stuff first. You'll buy things that you weren't shopping for in the first place. You'll neglect opportunity costs and other costs (gas to get to that great mall, a late breakfast at a pricey mall restaurant to cure your shopping munchies, batteries and accessories, etc.) when you figure your savings.
I've got another reason: true happiness cannot be found by a good bout of swapping cash for goods, no matter how many times you see it dramatized on those television commercials. Instead of making family traditions around shopping on Thanksgiving weekend, why not make a family tradition around reading a book, or playing checkers. (Make sure it's a book or a game you already own!) Or better yet, extend the season of gratitude by doing something nice to someone who's been good to you all year. I'm planning to go visit my favorite farmer and tell her how grateful I am that she's changing the world one chicken at a time.
Black Friday shopping may very well put you in the red.
The day after Thanksgiving, or Black Friday, is the unofficial launch of the holiday shopping season. Many people look forward to Black Friday and all the deals. But it's important to remember that this event was created to lure customers. The bold fliers with incredible-sounding deals may beckon you to start loosening your wallet strings, but they shouldn't. Here are eight reasons that you should skip the Black Friday hubbub:
You don't need any of it: Let's be honest. Before you looked at the store flier to see the great price on some gadget, you had no intention of buying that gadget. In other words, you really don't need it, but it is being advertised at such a terrific price, you feel compelled to purchase it. Buying for the sake of buying is never a good deal, no matter what the price. If you didn't need it before Black Friday, chances are you don't need it at all.
You can use the time better: That lower price comes with an added cost elsewhere. While you may fork over less money than on another day, you must spend hours in line to get the best deals. You could instead spend your time working on painlessly saving yourself money. You should save well over $1,000 during the next year and beyond.
You won't get what you went for: When you look closely at the deals, take a special note on how many are available. The best deals are usually being sold in a limited supply.
The Black Friday experts already have won the game: While you may think you will get one of the limited number of goods available by getting up early, chances are that you won't. There are enough "professional" Black Friday shoppers that the best deals will almost always go to them. Unless you are dedicated to making Black Friday shopping into a sort of job, you will almost always get second pickings.
You'll buy things you never intended to buy: Once you've waited hours in the dark, cold morning to get into the store to find that the deal you wanted is no longer there, you aren't going to want to leave empty-handed. This is exactly what the stores are counting on. Instead of leaving, you'll walk around the store looking for other things that you may want and end up with a bag or two filled with stuff.
You'll forget to calculate the true cost: There are more costs to a product than the price tag, and Black Friday is a perfect example. Your time is valuable and, in order to get the best deals, you'll have to spend hours in the morning cold before the store opens if you hope to get them. You need to calculate whether the extra time is worth the discount offered. Often, it isn't.
That price might not be that great: Just as grocery stores sometimes place items on the aisles with big bargain banners all around to make you believe the product is being sold at a great price, the fact is that often it isn't. Grocery stores know that most people will assume it's a good price and not do further research. Retail stores have realized that many consumers react the same way to Black Friday sales.
Unless you do a bit of research on your own, you really won't know if those Black Friday deals are the bargains they seem to be. If there is a product that you already had on your holiday list, check online comparison sites like BizRate.com, PriceGrabber.com and Shopping.com to see at what price other retailers are selling the product. Your research may reveal that the great Black Friday deal you thought you found is more expensive than the everyday price online.
You can do it from home: Many of the Black Friday deals that are available at the retail stores are also available online these days. Instead of waiting for hours in the cold with no guarantee of getting what you want, you can make a few clicks of your mouse and secure the item in the warmth of your own house.
Remember that buying only those items that you have accounted for in your budget will give you the chance to make it through the holidays debt free. Skipping Black Friday is a good way to keep on budget. But if there is an important reason you do have to fight the Black Friday crowds, be sure to do a little bit of preparation to get the best deals.