Last Wednesday, my fingers were itching to fly over the keyboard.
I wanted to write a scathing blog post warning you friends about the dangers and pitfalls of indulging in the craziness of Black Friday.
Why didn’t I write a warning post?
Two reasons. First, the last thing I want is to preach restraint to you from my personal finance pulpit – preaching irritates and provokes more than prevents specific behaviour. And second, writing an anti-Black Friday post would have had very little to no effect on what you do, even if you read the post.
Hence, I am asking you today, what did you buy on Black Friday?
You can tell me about the bargains you got in the comments
Here is what I got:
I bought absolutely nothing on Black Friday
Yes, you heard me – I didn’t buy anything on Black Friday.
Because I don’t need anything.
Because I don’t want anything.
Because I learned to control my wants and have been living at a reasonable distance from consumerism in the last ten years.
Because I know that most bargains offered are no bargains at all. A Which investigation of last year’s prices found that 99.5% of Black Friday ‘deals’ were cheaper or the same price at other times of the year. Furthermore, the hype around getting a bargain will push you to buy the stuff you don’t need, want or like. Told you, no bargain at all.
Why we will be much better without consumerist bacchanalia
I am all for healthy hedonism, and I would never tell you to stop having fun.
I will never play on the guilt you may feel spending the money you may be stashing for the future – you know, the ‘if you invested these 20 pounds it will be £2 million in two hundred years or so’ kind of guilt. Because, who knows? Markets go up, and markets go down, and you likely won’t live so long anyway. Life is for living, so go ahead and have some fun!
The difference between hedonism and bacchanalia is like the difference between having too much to drink at a party and partaking in a full-blown orgy.
Our consumerist societies are tempting us with consumerist orgies every Black Friday, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day.
We are swamped by messages to consume and over-consume everything and anything.
Here is what succumbing to temptation means for people like you and me.
Pushed into over-spending
Have you seen the images of people fighting for stuff in shops on Black Friday?
Yes, the consumerist frenzy is very similar to a feeding frenzy – some get hurt, and some get bloated. Nobody ends up healthy.
Worst of all, a consumerist frenzy would likely make you over-spend because you lose track of your bank balance, and you can always justify it – you are getting a bargain, right?
There is no amount of clutter, and most of your bargains you’d find are clutter, is worth getting into debt. Because getting into debt is like putting on weight – it goes up fast and takes so much effort to recover.
Look around you.
Even if you are not a hoarder, your living space is likely cluttered with stuff.
Your kitchen cabinets don’t close.
Your wardrobe is bursting at the seams like a glutton at a state banquette.
So, it is not only that you are over-spending and getting yourself into debt; you are also making yourself stressed and your living space unpleasant.
There are two aspects to the wastefulness of consumerism that events like Black Friday indulge. One is personal – you waste your hard-earned cash, and then some, to produce clutter and stress.
It is also devastating for the environment and the planet’s future. (And if you tell me that you are not that bothered about the planet, let me tell you that it is mostly about humanity on the planet. When we devastate our environment, we kill ourselves, and once we are gone, Earth will recover in time. See what I mean?)
Look, I am not here to kill Christmas for you. Celebrate but remember that the path to happiness is balance in all things. I have presents for my family but they, I hope, will be getting items to serve them well.
My feelings about Black Friday are entirely different – if I were the Mistress of the Universe for a day, I would cancel it and wipe out all memories of it ever existing.
Oh dear, just remembered about Cyber Monday – another consumerist nightmare. Just don’t partake, okay.