Do you go shopping on Black Friday?
The holiday season starts this week. Black Friday is at the corner. Every year, Black Friday started earlier and earlier. Since 2012, Black Friday kicked off on Thursday for some stores. Wait a moment, now Friday becomes Thursday! Is it confusing?
“Grandma, could you cook the turkey faster? I got to go shopping at 5 PM.” “Can I bag my turkey and pie? I’ll eat on the road.” Grandma might say: “Wait a moment. Your cousin came over after 8-hour drive to see you, you can’t leave him alone!” “Oh, he is already standing in the line in front of the store for us. I’ll bring him the turkey as well.” Does this ring a bell?
What is Thanksgiving about?
Thanksgiving is a day about giving thanks to the blessings received for the whole year. It’s a festival of family reunion. The family and friends get together, doing lots of catching up, feasting turkey and other great food, watching football, and enjoying the 4-day long weekend.
Now the stranger named Shopping arrived one day ahead, and disrupted the whole tradition. As parents, how do we explain this to the young kids? Is Thanksgiving more about shopping?
I’m not against shopping. The question is when. Should the stores at least let people celebrate Thanksgiving, and have a great time the whole day? Black Friday should be on Friday, or shouldn’t it? The whole frenzy and hypes are created by those retail stores. And it is wrong, I think. If the store really cares about customers, offer the same great deals for the whole Friday, so people get enough time to shop around. Why are the stores limiting the hours and quantities available to create the chaos? Is it fun to see the customers fighting each other rushing into the store, and wrestling about the limited deals? It’s not fun.
Avoid paying high interest and fees while shopping:
This society is becoming more and more consumerism. “I got to get the best deal,” “I need it right now.” But how about saving for the down payment of the first house? What about saving for kids’ college, getting rid of debt, and saving for retirement? It’s totally fine buying gifts for kids, family and friends. But the question is how much we want to spend, and if we can afford it.
I wish making money were as easy as spending money. Nowadays, with the online shopping, I don’t have to step out of the door. Just click, click, click, my money is gone. And in a day or two, the package is at my door step. Now it needs more discipline to save. We have to watch carefully where the money went to. Every penny counts, and could be used for retirement.
In terms of tracking money, I still do in a classic way: write down every expense on the paper. Each check goes to the check register, and each cash or credit card transaction goes to my expense notebook. At the end of each month, all expenses will be totaled, and compared to my budget.
A detailed holiday budget would be helpful. In this way, the limit is set, and there is less chance to overspend. Stick on the budget, don’t over stretch financially. It’s nice to send a gift. But your loved ones don’t want you to incur debt and stress, just because of the gift to them. There are many ways to show love, buying a material gift is just one of them.
There is no problem about using credit card for holiday shopping, as long as people can pay the full amount at the end of each month. I like using credit card, as it’s convenient, plus getting some points. Carrying credit card balance in order to buy gifts is no no no. It’s too stressful to do so. Usually the card interest is very high.
Some folks prefer using debit cards. Make sure you know how much the balance of your checking or saving account is, and never ever overdraft. The overdraft fee for one swipe is way too high for any transaction. Do you want to pay $35 overdraft fee for a cup of coffee? The best way of overdraft protection is to NOT overdraft. Your hardly-earned money should be used for yourself, not for paying the bank fees.
Some might still like using cash. I would go to my own bank ATM in one trip, and get enough cash if needed. Remember, the ATM fees (two or three bucks each time) could add up, if using other banks’ ATMs. Avoid any unnecessary fees, and save those dollars for retirement. That’s what I have been doing.
I don’t do much holiday shopping each year. On Black Friday, I usually stay away from the traffic. At home, I get my tea and books, and watch some football games if any. But I enjoy the holiday, the decorations, Christmas carols, snow, and big smiles on kids’ faces. Usually before Christmas, my family goes to our favorite restaurant. Just sits there, enjoys the food and music, watches people hustling around, and feels the holiday spirit.
Do you go shopping on Black Friday? If no, what do you do? I hope you don’t have to work that day. You deserve the best. Have a great Thanksgiving!