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Does a Mindful Black Friday Exist?

November 20, 2018
Does a Mindful Black Friday Exist? | Tiny Ambitions

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Hey everyone! Welcome back to Tiny Bites. After this week, I think it will officially be the start of the “holiday season”. Which is exactly what I want to talk about this week. If you’re American you know that this week is Thanksgiving (and if you’re Canadian, you know that the REAL Thanksgiving happened at the beginning of October). I’m just kidding American friends.

This week, I wanted to talk about the possibility of having a mindful Black Friday and Cyber Monday experience, plus I wanted to share what I’m planning on buying on Cyber Monday this year. Gasp – I know! A minimalist looking for a deal during one of the craziest shopping days of the year? Who even am I???

Press play below to listen to this week’s episode, listen using one of the links above, or keep scrolling for the episode transcript!

Having a Mindful Black Friday

After American Thanksgiving are two of the biggest shopping days of the entire year – Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Just thinking about Black Friday gives me anxiety – all of those massive crowds of people trampling each other for a chance to buy some piece of tech is literally my definition of a nightmare.

I’m going to hit you with some factoids about Black Friday and Cyber Monday – just to establish a baseline for how big these days really are.

So, according to Adobe Analytics and the American Marketing Association, customers in the US alone spent 7.7 billion on Black Friday in 2017 plus another 6.6 billion on Cyber Monday. In fact, Cyber Monday last year was the single largest online shopping day in all of history. And those spending figures are billions. With a ‘b’.

Consumption Junction

I have no problem with shopping and consumption. If that’s how you want to spend your holiday weekend – have at it. But, what I do have a problem with is when the pandemonium about getting a good ‘deal’ on something whips people into a frenzy and someone ends up getting hurt. Consider this, more people die while shopping on Black Friday than in shark attacks. People have died. And that is an awful tragedy that could have been prevented. If you’re going out to in-person shop on Black Friday – be mindful of those around you and be careful. And I mean that sincerely. No consumer product is worth getting hurt over or injuring someone else. It’s just not.

All About That Scarcity Mindset

I can actually understand the pandemonium of Black Friday – the marketing strategies used across the boards of the most popular companies make it so enticing to want to stand in line for hours to get a good deal.

These campaigns play to the scarcity mindset that exists in certain degrees in all of us. And they also play on our lack of self-worth and feelings of enough-ness. Our kids might not love us now, but they sure will when we bring home their brand new wearable watch – or at least that is part of the subconscious narrative that is being sold to us during Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Wants vs. Needs. vs. Marketing

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting things and there’s also nothing wrong with taking advantage of deals on something you actually want and need. I just really question if a lot of what is being marketed to us on these days is stuff we actually want and need. Or if it just becomes part of a ‘need it now’, ‘ask questions later’ type of mindset. And that’s the mindset that worries me. Because it’s just a part of the pattern of conspicuous consumption that leaves us in debt and unsatisfied every year. And then we try and feel better by buying more stuff – see the pattern?

So how do we break the cycle and consume mindfully on the biggest shopping day of the year? Is that even possible?

I think it comes back to our intentions for the day. If we’re shopping because we want a deal, but we don’t know exactly what it is we want a deal on – then we’re just setting ourselves up for a consumption hangover – and a massive bill to pay off. Unless you are waiting on a deal from a specific brand, I generally recommend you avoid your inbox on Black Friday – it’s just mindless consumption dressed up in a fancy marketing campaign.

On the other hand, if you know exactly what it is you are looking for and you’re laser-focused on it (without hurting anyone else), that’s a much more mindful attitude. If you’ve also been waiting to buy something specifically on Black Friday, you’ve been delaying the instant gratification effect which means you’re less likely to be relying on your purchase to somehow make your life purchase. Sorry – nothing you buy on Black Friday is capable of making you happy forever – not even that 60” flat screen TV that you just have to have.

Financial Considerations

However, the reality is that consumer products generally cost a lot less on Black Friday and Cyber Monday than they do at other times of the year. That’s not a marketing ploy – prices really are lower. So, if there is something you know you want to add to your life (or buy as a gift for someone else’s life), this is might be one of the best times of the year to do it.

Which brings me to what I’m hoping to purchase this year. This is very much a want on our part and not a need – although I’m sure it could be considered a need depending on who you talk to.

My Mindful Black Friday Wishlist

When we bought our house in June, we knew pretty immediately after moving in that we’d need to replace the washing machine and dryer. They are really beat up and rusted out on the inside – something we probably should have looked at before we bought the house, but here we are. We’ve only used them once since moving in and let’s just say we didn’t end up with cleaner clothes after we washed them.

We’ve been making do with going to the laundromat down the street, but I cannot tell you how much I don’t want to have to go outside when it’s minus 30 out to do the laundry.

We’ve done a lot of research and settled on a simple washer dryer pair that will fit our needs and not break the budget. For the record, you can now buy washing machines and dryers that sync up to the wifi in your house and you can control through an app on your phone. I don’t know why anyone needs this function, but it’s out there if you do!

We’ve been waiting for Black Friday because we figure it will be our best chance at the best deal. But, if the set we want isn’t on sale on Black Friday or Cyber Monday – no sweat. We’ll just keep playing the waiting game.

Deals Always Come Back Around

That’s another thing to be aware of when shopping on Cyber Monday and Black Friday – everything is marketed as being very urgent. If you miss this deal, your life will be terrible and everything will fall apart. Or at least, that’s the kind of mindset stores and brands want us to be in on these two days – so we fill our real and virtual carts with as much stuff as possible.

If you go into this weekend with the ‘I must get this deal or everything will be ruined’ mindset, you’re holding on pretty tightly to an outcome that you genuinely cannot control. Try giving yourself some space and ease. Yes, it would be great to get a good deal on something you want. But, if it doesn’t happen, there will be other deals on other days. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to get the perfect deal this weekend. It might happen and it might not. The way you feel about the outcome (positive or negative) will be a direct result of how much expectation you had going into it.

Bottom line: if you’re partaking in Black Friday this week – be kind. Be kind to yourself and be kind to everyone else braving the same crowds and lines as you. Give yourself permission to come home empty-handed. Give yourself permission to come home with a full cart.

That’s it for this week’s episode of Tiny Bites. Am I crazy to apply principles of mindfulness to Black Friday? Is it even possible? I don’t know, but I am sure as heck going to try.

How do you feel about Black Friday? Are you sitting this year out? Do you have something special on your wishlist? Let me know in the comments!

Image Credit: Canva

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  • Amanda November 21, 2018 at 9:50 am

    I honestly can’t recall a time when I bought something on Black Friday or Cyber Money. Most of the time, like you said, I’d wait for another deal to roll around. I’m not interested in getting up at 4 am and waiting in line! And I’ve never been a fan of online shopping either. (Especially with the postal strike happening this year.) So once again, it’ll just be another Friday to me – except my email inbox will be flooded, too. 🙂

    • Britt November 21, 2018 at 5:47 pm

      4 am is an ungodly hour and I’m not convinced that it actually exists lol The postal strike has been interesting in tempering my online shopping – though it won’t hold me back if I need something. I just hate going to a store in person so much, I can deal with a little waiting. Good luck with your email flood! Every year I think I’m not going to get any emails (because I’ve unsubscribed from so many already), and tons keep coming out of the woodwork.

  • theluxestrategist November 20, 2018 at 5:45 pm

    I did Black Friday one time when I was in college to get a laptop. It was definitely an experience, and I’m glad I did it the one time!

    I’m pretty proud of myself for resisting a sale the other day. There was a 20% off coupon, and I was going to buy a candle I didn’t need at the time. After all, when will the next coupon come along? I’ll use the candle at some point. But I decided that another coupon WOULD come along, and I can just buy the candle when I’m more likely to use it.

    • Britt November 20, 2018 at 6:50 pm

      That’s awesome! Black Friday deals can be great when you know you need a bigger ticket item like a computer.

      That’s the thing that always get me with coupons and sales. There will always be more of them. That’s the way marketing works. I wish I’d learnt that sooner – would have saved me a lot of impulse heartbreak!

  • Diana Rendina November 20, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Thank you for this post! I think it’s good to take a mindful, critical eye to Black Friday while also recognizing that we aren’t somehow less conscious or minimalist if we choose to buy something during this time. I normally don’t even look at the Black Friday sales, but last week my 10 year old dishwasher decided to die. We can get by with handwashing, but after doing some research on dishwashers, I decided to go ahead and buy one this week since the prices and rebates are good. But like you said, it wasn’t something I rushed out and did. I had a budget in mind before I started and was okay with not getting anything if I didn’t find what I wanted. Yet some part of me felt guilty for buying something this week and supporting the consumer culture. So thank you for the reminder that it’s okay to buy things if you approach it the right way 🙂

    • Britt November 20, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      You are definitely not any less of a minimalist because you purchased something. I’m glad you were able to banish your guilt about the purchase – it’s such a hard mindset to get out of. Any purchase that is approached from a mindful, considered place is a minimalist purchase in my opinion. And it sounds like you followed the exact minimalist recipe – research, budget, replacement. I hope your new dishwasher lasts you just as long as the old one. Thanks for reading, Diana!

    Hey! I'm Britt. I write about living a tiny, simple, intentional life. Because life doesn't need to be lived big.