Friday, November 28, 2014

Black Friday


Today is Black Friday, and the only thing I will be buying is a couple pies for breakfast, plus regular grocery shopping because I didn't cook yesterday and we have no leftovers in the 'fridge.

We are a nation of conspicuous, ridiculous consumers. Our economy is based on whether or not people shop. I think this is ridiculous, but before everyone jumps all over me and tells me that's how it always is, I will admit that I am not an economist and I have no idea of another system that would work on a large scale. Yes, people need goods, but shopping is a hobby for many, an actual activity or destination. They buy because it's there, not because they need it or it is especially beautiful.

To utterly mangle a quote from I'm not sure who, my shopping philosophy is simple: do not buy anything you do not find utterly useful or beautiful.

In other words, lay off the crap from China.

Stop shopping recreationally.

Stop teaching your kids to purchase ANOTHER $10 toaster just because it's $10. This is especially important. Our society raises kids who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing. They don't need another video game; they need to go to the zoo or a museum or a sporting event or a fancy tea. Kids need your time and space to develop creativity, not dolls or toys that reinforce gender stereotypes.

For myself, I need to work on allowing myself to buy things when I need them. We have been broke for so long that I fall into Depression-era thinking (use it up, wear it out; make do, do without) uncomfortably often. I need to allow myself to buy something I need that costs more because it is well-made, to spend money on myself without feeling guilty about it. Sometimes I need to just buy the beautiful thing because it's beautiful and I love it.

Fun fact, though: I declared bankruptcy when I was 22. I was a recreational shopper. A strong believer in retail therapy. So now I have swung the other direction and want to save my pennies for experiences and travel, not things. After all, there are so many things you won't find in a store.

But there is a balance, and it is okay to settle somewhere comfortably in the middle.

Maybe ask yourself this, though, as you head out today: will what I am about to buy bring joy to someone's life, real joy, or will it make their life easier or more beautiful? If not, what can I do to make that happen for them today?

Leave your answer to that in the comments. I'd love to hear what happens.



  1. Thanks so much for this! I have reached my "limit" and trying for hard to change my way of thinking when it come to shopping and having a lot of things. Keywords trying. Work in progress...

  2. It is very hard, especially when you try to explain to people around you who see nothing wrong with mindless consumerism. Hard not to feel like a cheapskate or feel deprived. And you are totally correct: it's more than simply changing a habit, and changing a way of thinking is way more difficult!!