Does Black Friday Really Mean Frugality?

by Miranda Marquit · 1 comment

We always hear about how Black Friday is a great time to go out and find great deals and save money. You might even be coming home from an early morning shopping spree right now, thrilled with the “savings.” We have an idea of Black Friday being a frugal person’s dream. After all, it’s all about saving money, right?


Black Friday is all about spending money. It’s called Black Friday because this is the time that retailers traditionally move from losses (being in the red) to profits (being in the black). It’s because they get you out there spending money, buying things on sale, sure, but also buying whatever catches your fancy as you breeze through stores and stand in line. Black Friday can actually be a time that results in spending more money, as some of the inhibitions are reduced by the delight felt at finding “bargains.”

Do You Need Black Friday for a Frugal Christmas?

If you are anything like me, you never went out for Black Friday. I haven’t been out on Black Friday for years. This is because I don’t really find that it’s worth my while. Sure, you can find good deals, but often what I find doesn’t really help me out. The discounted items are either things that I don’t want or need, or that are of low quality. In either case, the Black Friday “deals” defeat the purpose of planning for a frugal Christmas — at least in my circumstance.

Additionally, going out on Black Friday doesn’t take into account the value of your time. How much is your time worth? With the standing in line, dealing with traffic and other time-consuming activities, what else could you be doing? It is important not to discount the value of your time; after all, this is time you could be spending with your family. And don’t forget the cost of gas as you travel around town, hitting store after store. Nor should you forget about the impulse buying that often takes place on Black Friday. That can start to add up as well.

Saving Money without Black Friday

My husband does like to shop online for good deals on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other times during the holiday shopping season. However, we stick to a list when we do this type of shopping. We make out a list beforehand of who we need to buy gifts for, and we look online for the best prices. We can usually set up alerts about certain items as well, so that are notified if a price drops to a price range we are interested in.

You can also save money by watching out for other sales. Everyone makes a big deal about Black Friday, but sales continue throughout December. And, of course, this year the sales started right after Halloween. Anymore, there is no reason to confine yourself to Black Friday. Unless there is a door-buster that you absolutely must have, as the holiday shopping season progresses there are other sales and opportunities — online as well as offline.

Bottom line: Black Friday isn’t really about frugality. In many cases, it is merely another manifestation of our materialistic culture, built on consumerism. If you really want to be frugal this holiday shopping season, take the time to think about what you really need or want to buy, and stick with those items. You don’t need Black Friday to do that.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Aiming4Simple December 1, 2010 at 12:24 pm

This year I browsed online before Black Friday for a few items our family needed, including a winter coat and replacement drinking glasses. However, I decided to risk a trip to the mall and see if I could score better bargains. I figured I could always return home and place my order online if I didn’t like what I found in the store. Well, I saved about $20 on the 2 items on my list this year by going the brick and mortar route. I think the lesson I learned is to be vigilant and compare prices before assuming one option (online or in-store) has the better deal.

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