I suppose it will be an ongoing trend but the thing I hate most about the holidays is the time taken away from writing. Picking up writing again has been a great outlet that gives me time to reflect, share and express myself in ways I don’t usually in my day to day. So needless to say coming out of this Thanksgiving weekend I have a ton of pent up thoughts. So I feel it would be best to release these through a weekly series I shall dub “My Thoughts On…” and in true holiday spirit, what better topic than shopping following Black Friday.
Black Friday came and went and I get the distinct feeling that it will be an annual tradition in my household to shake my head in disbelief and agony at our culture of shoppers attending Black Friday sales in endless multitudes searching for “The Great Deal.” WHERE IS YOUR MOTIVATION AND DRIVE TO FIND GREAT DEALS THE REST OF THE YEAR! For Christmas shopping my wife and I establish who we buy for and what our dollar limit is at the beginning of the year, and utilize a sinking fund to cover the expected costs for those precious little gifts on December 25th.
When it comes to shopping in general though the best advice I can give is to plan ahead, be patient and think outside of the box. For personal clothing I avoid retail prices like the plague and stick to re-sale and thrift stores. I know where my local Salvation Army and Goodwill stores are and buy what I need. A huge benefit is that my wife is handy with a thread and needle and can alter clothes for flattering fits, so I can buy items that are just a bit baggy, and she’ll resize for a perfect cut! Pants, dress shirts, jeans and just about everything in between I grab at thrift stores. The only items I put on the “buy only new” category are underwear, socks and hats for obvious reasons.
For gifts planning ahead is crucial. Do you expect high school/college graduations in the coming year? Whose birthdays are important to you to buy gifts for? Are you buying for individuals or households at Christmas? Answering just a few of these questions before the start of every year is huge in planning and will help your budget out that much more. I’ll beat this horse even after its dead, when you have established a finite amount of money to spend, you will do everything you can to make dollars stretch. Gotta reader on your gift list? Check out used books online at amazon or ebay. Jonesing for a flat screen television AND you have the money to buy one? Flash cash at your local retailer and demand a discount when you pay cash in full, and if they don’t give you one, go to their competitor and get one.
But back to the madness that is Black Friday. You know that I’ll never rant and rave against finding a bigger and better deal. But consistency throughout the year and planning ahead of time is a lot better than running out in the after hours of Thanksgiving in the name of stretching your money and kicking down doors in the name of cheaper prices. Personally when the opening hours rang at the Friday sales, I was happily sound asleep in a bed at my in-laws beside my wife, assured that my Christmas gift giving list is made, I know where I am getting my gifts from and the “give account” is fully funded. Yes, Virginia, you can have peace of mind on Black Friday.