I must admit, I don't "get" the phenomenon of Black Friday. People go wild and crazy, they spend the whole day shopping, they come home with great deals, women "bond" with their girlfriends, etc.
I... just... don't... get... it.
[Disclaimer: I hate shopping anyway, so that could have a lot to do with it.]
But honestly, where do all these people get the money? And how lavish ARE their Christmas gift giving? How many people are they buying for?
Maybe it's because we've lived so close to the poverty level for the last eighteen years (since starting our woodcraft business), but such extravagant spending is simply beyond my comprehension.
That's why I found this article to be so amusing: the One-Day Holiday Shopping Plan from Real Simple Magazine, possibly the most amazing waste of paper on the planet. Ready for the highlights?
• Fuel up. Don't eat a sugary breakfast, eat something healthy. Okay, makes sense if you have a full day ahead of you.
• Don't dress for comfort. Huh? The logic behind this idea is that if you feel dowdy in sweatclothes, you'll buy more. Instead, "cute flats or an on-trend top" will "boost your self-confidence." So you'll buy less? Right.
• Download an upbeat playlist. Oh no, don't listen to the warm fuzzy nostalgic music the stores play which, presumably, encourage you to shop! Instead, bring your iPod and listen to music "with a beat faster than your resting heart rate" which will keep you moving "quickly and efficiently" through the stores. Right.
• Get dibs on discounts. This means getting "apps" (whatever the heck those are) on your smartphones for sales at your favorite stores. (This makes me think if people applied as much legwork and research into choosing a good spouse as they put into Black Friday sales, the world would be a happier place.)
• Head out solo. The idea is if you shop with a girlfriend, you'll go to places you wouldn't normally go and buy things you normally wouldn't buy. But don't worry. "You can share deals with friends by using the free My Shopping Circle app, which notifies them about sales you see (and vice versa)." Right.
• Stop at the bank... In other words, use cash and not a credit card. At last, a sensible suggestion.
• ...Then hit the mall. But go in through a side entrance to avoid any "lavish displays" encouraging you to spend. Oh, and you can "avoid unplanned detours by using the free FastMall app, which contains full maps of more than 1,250 malls nationwide." Sheesh, what IS it with these "apps"? Can't people think for themselves anymore, or do you need an "app" for that?
• Buy less expensive stuff first. The idea is "once you shell out for something costly, your brain loses perspective on what's a good price." Cough.
• Eat lunch. What??? All this was done before lunch? Criminey, how much shopping are you doing?? Oh, and you're supposed to go easy on the carbs at lunch because those will "make you want to nap." Yes, heaven forbid you should want to stop shopping.
• Perk yourself up. After lunch, you're supposed to "treat yourself to an inexpensive manicure at a salon or a free chair massage at Brookstone" (whatever Brookstone is) lest your enthusiasm for shopping start to flag.
[At this point in the article, please note, is a link to another article on How to Make the Holidays More Affordable. How's this for an idea: Stop shopping.]
• Skip lines. The concept here is if you're standing in line behind lots of other people, you're bored and will buy something on a whim. So, pay for your items in the men's underwear department.
• Steer clear of attractive salespeople. Yes really. I guess unattractive people are more trustworthy and less likely to deceive you about a product. Right.
• Get in, get out. So you don't, um, spend too much by listening to alluring sales pitches.
[By now you've reached 6 pm in the evening...]
• Multitask at dinner. This can be accomplished by meeting "your spouse or friends for dinner at a restaurant that offers gift-card freebies." Cha-ching, you've spent more money. Congratulations!
• Back at home, search for discount codes. But wait, your shopping day isn't over! Now you're supposed to go home and do some online shopping, preferably patronizing websites that offer free shipping.
• Cash in your rewards. After all the purchases you've loaded onto your smoking credit card, you can now take your credit card points "to buy gift cards or make online purchases through the card's rewards site." This, of course, nets you more "points" for more pointless spending. Right.
• Buy toys online. Presumably you're so pooped from fighting the crowds all day that now you're allowed to buy toys online and save yourself the hassle. Good thinking.
• Be a little sneaky. I'll quote this murky advice in its entirety: "'Just as you're about to finalize an online purchase, cancel the order,' says Lindstrom. 'If you've previously shopped the site, the merchant should have your e-mail address, and you may get a message within minutes touting a discount code.' Or contact a site's live-chat associate and ask for a discount. This simple action could save you about 15 percent off the price tag, says Robert Pagliarini, the founder of RicherLife.com, a financial website."
And now, says the article, you're all done! Whoo-hoo! You've racked up hundreds or thousands of dollars buying things you can't afford for people who don't need them. What an accomplishment!
What cracked me up is these suggestions are supposedly real and legitimate techniques to make your Black Friday experience more enjoyable. Me, I prefer the Black Friday experience of staying home, doing some repair work on the barn, eating leftover Thanksgiving goodies, listening to early Christmas music, visiting with some friends, and other free activities.
And people wonder how we can afford a good life on a low income...