I’m all about saving money.
Early in my career, when the shekels were tight, I’d skip meals to free up cash to dump into my 401(k). And I’m proud of it!
But you won’t see me fighting the crowds on Black Friday — not going to happen. Life is far too short to explore the depths of human misery and depravity on display the Friday after Thanksgiving every year.
Lines forming the night before…
Fighting with the unwashed masses for a coffee machine…
It’s vulgar … and a little sad to see otherwise normal adults reduced to this behavior.
Whatever money I would save isn’t worth the lifetime of bad karma I’d provoke fighting for a space in a Walmart parking lot.
But while I draw my arbitrary line in the sand by sitting on my couch on Friday and binge-watching Netflix, I know that many of you will, nonetheless, lace up your gloves to fight the crowds.
Before you do, let me at least offer a few parting words of advice.
You’re Not Saving if You’re Spending on Black Friday
My wife came home from the mall with a new purse, beaming about how much money she had saved. I pointed out that, while the price she paid was no doubt a bargain, she didn’t save a single red cent. Money still flowed out of her wallet and into the store’s cash register.
She took that about as well as you might expect.
But the lesson here stands. If you’re spending, you’re not saving. Saving is the absence of spending.
Spending on things you don’t really need — even at a fantastic price — is still spending. It’s a cash outflow, not an inflow. Cash outflows make you poorer. Cash inflows make you richer.
It’s a mantra worth repeating: Cash outflows make you poorer. Cash inflows make you richer.
The Most Valuable Asset
The older I get, the more I realize how precious time is.
If you need more money, you can go out and earn it. But you can’t make time. You only have so much of it, and you have to use it wisely.
Is thrashing in the shopping mosh pit on Black Friday a good use of your time?
Maybe it is. Perhaps you enjoy it. If so, I might recommend psychological help (kidding, of course).
But if you take pleasure in Black Friday shopping, or if it’s a way to spend time with family, then by all means, do it.
I suspect that isn’t the case for most of you. And there won’t be a huge economic benefit in most cases, either.
Do you remember what you got for Christmas last year? Or what you gave to your friends and family?
I vaguely remember a bunch of shiny boxes under the tree. But the actual items were so forgettable I have no memory of them less than a year later.
I remember Christmas dinner. I remember setting off fireworks in the garden. (We were in Peru… They do that sort of thing there.) And I remember the general sense of happiness of being around family. But the gifts themselves were disposable.
Don’t waste hours of your time searching for the perfect gift. No one will remember or care a week later.
If you end up paying more because you avoided Black Friday sales … who cares? Just buy fewer items. You know as well as I do that it’s all going to end up in a dumpster eventually anyway.
I can say this with authority because I just moved. My wife and I like to keep things fairly spartan, and yet we still managed to find multiple dumpsters’ worth of junk to throw away when we were packing up the house.
I blow a lot of money on frivolous stuff. We all do. It’s just part of being an American.
But none of it really matters. My advice is to stay at home, eat some pumpkin pie and spend time with your kids. Or at least relax and watch some football.
To safe profits,
Co-Editor, Green Zone Fortunes
Charles Sizemore is the co-editor of Green Zone Fortunes and specializes in income and retirement topics. He is also a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg and Fox Business.