Thanksgiving used to be a holiday to spend time with loved ones and express gratitude. Today, it’s a shopping frenzy weekend. Here’s how to avoid Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and save your budget.
What’s happening to Thanksgiving? What used to be a meaningful holiday followed by a day off work and some casual holiday shopping has turned into a manic search for deals and steals that instill a serious sense of FOMO in even the most rational-minded consumer.
In short, retailers who feed off our desire to save money have hijacked Thanksgiving. And as the deals around the holiday shopping season begin to start earlier and earlier (sometimes even on Thanksgiving Day), our thoughts revolve around shopping before we even finish eating our dessert.
Want to save yourself from the madness and save your holiday? Believe it or not, ignoring the hype around Thanksgiving Day shopping and Black Friday can actually save you money in the end (and help you set the right tone for your holiday). Here’s why.
You May End up Buying More if You Shop on Black Friday
We may all enter into sale shopping with the best of intentions, but when we’re bombarded with stickers showing 75 percent off or more, our intentions can crumble into dust. How can we turn down items that appear to be practically given away?
It doesn’t take long for our lists to be abandoned and our carts to fill up with “just a few things” that we’d like for ourselves, besides what we planned to buy for others.
As if the sale prices weren’t tempting enough, stores bombard us with smells of baked goods and pine cones that set our senses firing—and other frenzied shoppers, who only further instill that sense of FOMO, surround us. It’s nearly impossible to avoid getting caught up in it all.
If you really want to prevent temporary insanity and stick to your shopping list, the best thing you can do is skip the entire shopping around Thanksgiving madness. Even if the best deals were on that day (which they’re not—see below), the likelihood that you’ll spend more on items you weren’t planning to buy will quickly negate any other savings you had.
Shopping on Thanksgiving or Black Friday Isn’t the Cheapest Option
The main reason why most of us partake in Black Friday in the first place is because of the idea that it’s the day to get the best deals all year. However, that’s not necessarily true.
Money-saving expert Andrea Woroch explains why in a Huffington Post article: “According to a recent survey conducted by FatWallet, over one-third of shoppers believe the best deals of the holiday season happen on Black Friday. While you can score a great price on an off-brand TV, toys are better priced during the first two weeks of December. Meanwhile, Free Shipping Day [each December] has deeper discounts on apparel, shoes, and kitchen goods, according to Rather-Be-Shopping blogger Kyle James.”
And that’s not all! Woroch goes on to explain that the “compare” prices are misleading in the first place, since they use the MSRP as a base price, which is a price retailers rarely charge in the first place.
So if it’s deals you’re after, Black Friday may not even be the best day to get them. You’d be better off setting deal alerts with websites like Slickdeals or DealNews and keep an eye on coupons with websites like RetailMeNot or Coupon Sherpa. You’ll be able to wait until the right price or a coupon comes along instead of jumping into the frenzied crowds of Black Friday.
Strive to Remember What the Holidays are All About
Few of us ever intend for Black Friday to take over our Thanksgiving. This time of year can be tough on the wallet though, so the idea of saving money and giving our loved ones gifts they’ll cherish is extremely tempting.
But between the extra purchases we’ll inevitably make and the fact that we can save just as much (if not more) as the holidays draw near, you can rest assured that Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day deals aren’t always the best way to save. So set up those deal alerts, keep your list in check, and focus on what Thanksgiving is really about: friends and family. Isn’t it about time that we all remember that?
Shannon McNay is personal finance writer who loves to talk about the emotional side of personal finance. Her work has been published in Business Insider, DailyWorth, Huffington Post, Lifehacker, ReadyForZero, Yahoo! Finance, and more. You can follow her on Twitter.
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While Society of Grownups hopes the information is useful, it’s only intended to provide general education. It’s not legal, tax, or investment advice, and may not apply or be useful to your specific financial situation. If you need recommendations geared to your personal financial situation, schedule time with a financial planner.