Oh Crap! You Missed All The Sales!

Oh Crap! You Missed All The Sales!

You could have hung out with this guy.

You could have hung out with this guy.

Black Friday has come and gone. Cyber Monday is a thing of the past. Let’s face it; You’re screwed. Your lazy butt missed out on all the “best sales of the year.” Crap.

But did you really miss out?

The Hysteria Of Black Friday Sales

Let’s examine everyone’s favorite shopping hell, Black Friday. I’ve referred to it in the past as the saddest day of the year, and I still hold that view. Everyone skips Thanksgiving dinner and time with their family to hang out with a group of crazed shoppers who are foaming at the mouth to get a deal on a crappy laptop. Then they get all cray-cray and start fighting over towels and tazing each other. Keep it classy.

And these people are not actually making smart choices with their money. Instead of fighting like mad to gain better job skills and get promoted, they put all of their effort into saving tens of dollars on crap they don’t need. The Huffington Post put together a list that summed up the reasons so many people lose their freaking minds one day a year. Here are a few of the reasons with my thoughts on each:

1. What’s another $10 after the first $500? This kills me. But it’s true. When people make a big ticket purchase, there is some emotional difficulty in letting go of that money. When $500 has already been spent on a TV, the $10 DVD’s seem like a no-brainer, and there is almost no pain in releasing that small amount of money after the large purchase. This is how a $500 TV turns into a $1,500 home theater system very quickly.

2. Black Friday requires math skills many consumers don’t have. Let’s be honest. Most who are going Black Friday shopping don’t have a real budget. And knowing whether a deal is actually good or not is difficult if you don’t track your spending and know what the normal price of items are. And for those who join the madness that is Black Friday, a sleepless night and crazy, fighting, screaming customers won’t help when trying to figure out a percentage discount to see if you are saving any real money.

3. The Halo Effect — Amazing By Association.ย Just because you buy something on Black Friday, doesn’t mean it was a deal. Or even on sale. People put on blinders and grab whatever they can fit into their arms, assuming everything is THE BEST DEAL EVER IN THE HISTORY OF HISTORY. Nope.

4. There’s no guilt when everybody’s doing it. A classic case of “keeping up with the Jonses.” Well, not quite textbook, but close enough. If a ton of people get together and are spending as if keeping cash in their wallet any longer will give them a case of Ebola, then it must be a decent thing to do. And if you don’t, you feel guilty for not getting all the amazing deals that everyone else does. So you go ahead and discharge all the cash from your wallet and rack up a ton of debt to make sure you are saving moneyโ€ฆ..waitโ€ฆ

Cyber Monday Must Be For Sophisticated Shoppers Then, Right?

Yeah, well, sorta. Cyber Monday came about because online retailers realized that they needed to create some holiday hype for their product as well. And they didn’t want to compete on the same day all the crazies are released into the public, so they decided to do it on the day that most people would be online. On Monday. While people are working. Which is honestly a brilliant move.

But again, Cyber Monday is nothing more than a bunch of hype around subpar electronics to get people to add stuff to their cart, and then add more and more once the big ticket item is already in there. Same tactics, different medium. But again, the deals aren’t even worth it unless you were already planning on making the purchase. And even then, might not be worth it. Let’s take an example from our own shopping.

We need a new PC laptop soon. Ours is 5 years old, the screen is dying, the hinges are broken, and the fan sounds like a 210 Cessna trying to take off. So I figured Cyber Monday would be the best day to make the purchase. I searched around a bit (on sites like Newegg.com, Amazon.com, Bestbuy.com, etc.) and I could not find a deal better than what I can find daily on the Lenovo Outlet site. And the Cyber Monday laptops I found had a crappy AMD processor, no HDD space, and had terrible reviews. So we’re going to just wait until we really need to make the purchase and get something with great specs for a great deal on the outlet site.

So I Didn’t Miss Out?

No, not really. The only way to make it work is if you ignore the doorbuster frenzy, research what you want to buy and make sure you are getting the best deal you have seen. Oh, and follow my guide to buying electronics. So the only thing you missed out on was the incredible people watching, which actually may have been worth an afternoon trip to watch the worst of the human race gather all in one location. Video evidence below:

The point is, if you don’t have a plan, you will be wasting your money. You’ll be falling into the trap of “saving money” and end of blowing the budget.

Assuming you have a budget.

If you don’t, I highly recommend checking out my budgeting basics so that you can start to shop smartly and save wisely for the things that are truly important to you. And I guarantee you won’t find those things after skipping Thanksgiving to wait in line with a pile of stinky strangers. Jus’ sayin.

Comments: Let’s be honest, how many of you skipped Thanksgiving to wait in line for a TV? Or how many ventured out just to people watch? I didn’t get any “deals” and we weren’t even in a place with cell reception or WiFi for all of Thanksgiving weekend. I promise you we don’t have #FOMO for the sales that went on.

photo credit: sea turtle via photopin cc

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  1. Black Friday is five levels of crazy. I agree that people don’t even know how much things cost in the first place and are unlikely to know if they’re getting a good deal or not.
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted..It’s Easy to Judge a MotherMy Profile

  2. Back in my days of working retail I enjoyed the opening shift on Black Friday (of course this was back when stores opened early and by early I mean 6am on Friday). I would always just kind of laugh at the stupidity of the entire thing.

    Again this year we didn’t bother going out on Friday. We went to Red Rock Canyon and hiked. It was pretty busy, but it makes me happy to see people enjoying our amazing national parks system. I feel like we came out a winner versus going to the store.

    • Nice, hiking instead of shopping, I like that. I worked retail a few years on Black Fridays. It was kinda funny just watching all the crazies fight over junk.

  3. What if I didn’t skip thanksgiving because my family celebrates early in the day (like at noon) so thanksgiving was pretty much over and I saved the last few months for it and just used the cash in my envelope? I’m not a fight-over-the-electronics kinda of shopper but I was a sucker for old navy and target ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Megan, you are part of the few. The proud. The “people who actually got deals on stuff they wanted and didn’t break someone’s nose to get it”. Well done. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. If you’re only looking at the Walmart madness, I can see why you would think that ALL Black Friday shoppers are crazy about buying cheap electronics. But there are some legitimately great sales out there on Black Friday if you know where to look. I would never ever go to Walmart on Black Friday, but I went out on Thanksgiving to grab items on sale at the national drugstore chains, but I didn’t miss Thanksgiving dinner. I even helped prepare it and clean up afterwards. I also have a budget, didn’t spend more than I intended, and picked up some sale items for my appreciative family in the process.

    • You and Megan are a rare breed, Rebecca. It sounds like you had an actual “plan”, vs. those who get all hopped up on Red Bull and tackle children to get a tickle-me-Elmo. Nice work on executing proper Christmas shopping etiquette and saving real money vs. wasting cash on junk that will break in a week while knocking over a row of elderly women.

  5. The Halo effect is so true- I think most folks don’t have any idea what some items typically cost, but if you see it on Black Friday it’s easier to justify an impulse buy because “it must be an amazing deal!!”
    Dee @ Color Me Frugal recently posted..5 Financial Tips Iโ€™ve Learned from BloggersMy Profile

    • Yeah, just look at the video. People are just grabbing anything and everything. It’s like the Zombies are coming and we need to stock up on cheap electronics to survive!

  6. Black Friday is kind of ridiculous – and I think you had a great point by saying that there’s this weird halo effect that takes over, where people think anything that gets associated with Black Friday immediately means “great deal!” It’s just another way to spend more money that you could have saved!
    Laura @ RichmondSavers.com recently posted..Amazing Deal: Spend $75 at Amazon and Get a $25 Amex CreditMy Profile

    • True. Flip it on it’s head, and ask “what is the opportunity cost here?” Any money wasted on crap you don’t need is money that could have gone toward stuff you actually care about….and compounded over time, the loss is MUCH greater than you think.

  7. Just watching the videos of Black Friday shoppers makes me sick to my stomach. I spent the day working at a handmade craft show, earning cash on the side to pay down debt. At least the shoppers there were sane!

  8. I have to say, I half disagree with you. I went black friday shopping, and I didn’t sacrifice time with my family or Thanksgiving to do it. In fact, I went with my mom, so we had some great bonding time together. The crowds weren’t as crazy as we expected, we got some great deals, and we got to spend time together. I did my research beforehand, I knew exactly what I wanted, and I got it for a great price. I even put things back that I wanted but didn’t have the money for.

    I’m tired of being made to feel like a terrible human being for wanting to partake in a little bit of fun and doing it responsibly (I don’t say this only about your post, but about everyone that has berated me for taking part in black friday, as though I am the scum of the earth). There are some bad apples that ruin it for everyone, but that’s honestly not the majority of people that go, at least not that I see.

    • ” I did my research beforehand, I knew exactly what I wanted, and I got it for a great price”

      That alone says this post was definitely not aimed at you. I have ventured out on Black Friday, but not at midnight, and not fighting over some stupid doorbuster. It sounds like you did it for entertainment value and getting some ACTUAL SAVINGS, which as a whole, is rare. It sounds like the places you went shopping and the area you live in seem to have it under control a bit, which is awesome.

      Mostly, I just wanted to warn against rabid consumerism and turning the holiday into a “OMG LOOK WHAT I GOT AT THIS CRAZY PRICE”, and keep it more about things that really matter (i.e. time with family and giving, which you accomplished on your day out).

      All that to say, this post was not meant to berate you for shopping and having fun on Black Friday.

      • Oh no, I totally get that, and I didn’t mean to imply that you were berating me personally. It just feels like black friday has become this big no-no, and I can’t tell anybody I went for fear of being chastised. I am a consumer though, and I like things and I like getting a good deal…but I’m also smart and do my research and try not to get sucked in by clutter and things I don’t really need. I realize not everybody is the same way. I just don’t think black friday shopping is inherently bad, you just have to act like a civil human being and do your research before hand.

        • I think the crowd mentality that happens is what makes it ridiculous. I also don’t like the idea of Jesus being born equated with buying as much crap as possible. Doesn’t really sync with how things SHOULD be during the holidays. So I guess I am jaded a bit, which colors my perspective on the activity as a whole.

          But getting a great deal (within you budget) and having a fun outing is a great thing to do, no matter the time of a year ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. The appeal of Black Friday is completely lost on me, especially as it creeps into Thanksgiving. I didn’t even go into town on Friday — I worked for about an hour and went for a run! So much better than fighting the crazies for worthless junk. The whole thing is a stain on the Christmas season in my opinion.
    Kendal @HassleFreeSaver recently posted..Ask & You Shall ReceiveMy Profile

  10. I didn’t do any shopping over the weekend or on Monday. I almost completely forgot about it. I had driven 12 hours to visit my parents, and I actually didn’t check my email once. I wanted all my focus to be on family time, and I think I accomplished that pretty well. Of course I came back to tons of emails about deals, but I have to agree on the laptop sales. Nothing really caught my eye, and I don’t want to buy a subpar laptop even if it’s a “great” price.
    E.M. recently posted..Thanksgiving Trip: Spending & HighlightsMy Profile

    • We drove 2 hours out of town where there was no cell reception and no wifi….and it was AMAZING. Excited for more trips like that, unplugging is an amazingly healthy thing to do. Maybe next time I won’t eat so much though…lol.

  11. Hey Jacob, just came over from MMM’s site. Your breakdown of CF in MA’s dire financial straits was pretty freaking stellar, I had to check out your blog. Have subscribed, looking forward to reading more. – Chris
    Chris Ming recently posted..Best Guide For Moving to Los Angeles: Part 7 โ€“ Get a California License and Register Your VehicleMy Profile

  12. I would never go to a mall on black friday. Maybe just to watch people doing hilarious things to save some money on something they don’t need.

    I do have a list of things I need to buy and buy when they’re cheapest. So I bought running shoes I need (I’ve had my old pair for over 500 miles) for $25. Way higher quality than my old ones, too. Can’t wait until they arrive!
    Daniel recently posted..How We Cut Our Cable Bill By Over 25% And Added More ChannelsMy Profile

  13. Watching that lady taser the other lady (on the news) in a store over some cheap product made in China was truly thrilling, disturbing, and ridiculous. Luckily no one died. I usually sleep in then go and pick up a couple of items from the Mall. This year I spent a whopping $22 dollars on two 3 wick candles from Bath and Bodyworks. Every civilized home needs at least one! Then, I paid off 2 credit cards and got stuff out of storage saving me thousands of dollars next year. I love those savings!
    Michelle recently posted..Self-Storage Hell: Finally free!!My Profile

  14. I can’t imagine myself being in a Black Friday crowd! It would surely be a headache.
    Mike Carlson recently posted..Help with Setting up a BusinessMy Profile

  15. I think whether or not these days make sense for you really depends on how you approach it. If you have something specific you’ve been saving for and one of these days actually gives you the best deal on that specific thing, then great! But if you haven’t really done the research or your just buying things you think are on sale, then clearly you’re not acting purposefully. I’ve found that there are deals to be had year-round if you’re willing to put the time in to find them, which is why I’ve never totally understood the hype around any particular day.
    Matt Becker recently posted..What to Look For in a Disability Insurance PolicyMy Profile

  16. I’ve never participated in Black Friday because of the madness and the fact that you can find deals on items on other days as well. Now, this year I did take advantage of Cyber Monday, but on a teacher site where I saved a buck or two on some downloadable lessons that were in my “wish list” (I’m a total dork, I know.) Other than that, this year we’re making some home made gifts for colleagues and donating some gifts to a charity. And that’s all folks. (Well, maybe buying a Jawbox – I think that’s what it’s called – for portable sound.) ๐Ÿ™‚
    Little House recently posted..โ€˜Tis the Season to STAY MOTIVATED!My Profile

    • Cyber Money is much less intrusive, but you still can’t let your guard down. The “deals” aren’t deals unless you know average prices of what you’re looking for.

  17. I got exactly one Black Friday item…and I got it by accident. At 5PM in the afternoon. There’s no freakin’ way I’m heading into that mess ever again. It’s a haven for impulse shopping and retailers know it. They know people are going to rush in and grab anything they can assuming it’s a good deal because after all….everything is a great deal on Black Friday, right? AND if they don’t grab it now it’ll be gone in 5 seconds. Sounds like a sure fire way to break your budget and buy a bunch of crap you don’t need. If this concept didn’t work, retailers would get rid of doorbusters and have the sales run all day long. Oh, and I’ll gladly pay a couple extra dollars to prevent being punched in the face by some guy at Walmart any day of the week.
    Travis @debtchronicles recently posted..We Doubled Our Net Worth and You Can Too!My Profile

  18. No shopping for us outside of buying groceries on Friday (and the store was dead! love grocery shopping on Friday ๐Ÿ™‚ ) Ended up spending the day with family and the evening playing board games and drinking wine so it was a FABULOUS day in my book!
    Tara @ Streets Ahead Living recently posted..Would you buy something you don’t exactly need?My Profile

  19. I did online shopping for Christmas on Black Friday, but not because of the day. It was simply because that is when I had the few hours to knock out my shopping list. I stayed on track, got a few good deals, and have everyone covered. All without even having to see the public (a couple of friends and I all had our laptops and helped each other pick stuff or combined our carts to get free shipping though…like a Xmas shopping LAN party, lol). I consider it a win.
    Crystal @ Prairie Ecothrifter recently posted..Want Better Career Success? Develop Your ConfidenceMy Profile

  20. You know, I’ve flown a “Cessna 210” before. Never heard of a “210 Cessna” though.

  21. I can never understand all the violence on Black Friday.
    Max Arthur recently posted..otl sports reviewMy Profile

  22. I spent roughly $3 on black friday (after coupons). I went to Rite at at like 5pm to do some of the drug store deals (the only deals I was actually interested in). You couldn’t pay me enough to participate in that madness.
    KK @ Student Debt Survivor recently posted..My Real Housewives of NJ Best FriendMy Profile

  23. Black Friday is to Holidays what the Zombie plague is to Rick and his Gang on Walking Dead. I have a coworker who was amazed and just couldn’t believe that Best Buy had the X-Men Trilogy on sale for $12 bucks…he bought it, of course. First, he has worst tastes in movies than a pedo, and second he is clearly being impulsive– how many times do you think he thought about the X-men Trilogy until he saw that sale?
    Snarkfinance recently posted..Pick Up Tips are Interviewing Tips, Part 1My Profile

    • Impulse takes over every rational bone in your body when shopping Black Friday sales. Or at least that’s the look of it. And X-men on sale or not is a waste of money. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  24. I’ll admit – I go Black Friday shopping every year. But going without a plan or a budget is DANGEROUS and I know that mostly everyone who goes Black Friday shopping has neither.

    For the record, I don’t shop during Thanksgiving dinner! I will never skip a family get together just to be there when store opens.
    Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans recently posted..Links Lisa Likes – 12/9/13My Profile

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