Thursday, November 18

The Shopping Beast vs. Black Friday

Since I started this blog my inner shopping beast has risen. Not. Good. For. The. Pocket book.

Let me give you a little background. I come from a family of shoppers. My mom is a shopper. My sister is a shopper. Even my dad is a shopper (sorry Dad, the secret's out).

The Diva is on board, too. As a toddler of 3 and 4, my mom, sister and I frequently took her to the mall. Nice indoor activity on a rainy Northwest day. Like any diva, she strutted around like she owned the place. And never, ever sat in the stroller; the stroller was along for the ride simply to carry the bags.

My husband, on the other hand, is the anti-shopper. His mantra is to go in, buy what you need, and leave immediately. He has tried to impart this wisdom to the Diva. After each shopping trip with Grammy, Auntie and yours truly, he told her, "Shopping is not a hobby. We go in, get what we need and go home." I could tell from the look in that child's eyes that Hubby's words would go unheeded. Sorry, dear.

Now that the holidays are just around the corner - only 37 days 'til Christmas - everyone's bombarded with shop, shop, shop messages. What's a girl with a bad case of the shopping bug to do?

First, do not buy on impulse. Write a list before you shop; it's a good idea and it helps you practice restraint. Peruse online shops before you go and make your decisions before you leave the house.

Try not to buy things your gift recipients won't use. Boulder Locavore and I got together earlier this week and she reminded me of this important rule. It's not thrifty or green to give something that won't be used or appreciated. She also gave me a copy of the current issue of Real Simple full of tons of gift ideas under $50. You know I'll cover these ideas later.

I'm a big fan of gift cards, especially for teens. They usually want big ticket items that I'm unlikely to buy; a gift card can help them fill in the blanks. The additional beauty of gift cards is that you can buy them right from home with a steamy, rich cup of coffee nearby (makeup and PJs are optional).

Now to the Black Friday thing. It's a formidable enemy in the attempt to tame the shopping beast. Who wants to go to Target at 4am, anyway, no matter how funny the side ponytail wearin' blonde is in the current round of commercials? Personally, I miss the last round of ads with awesome 80s music.

The alternative is to give the beast a tiny bit of satisfaction, quiet her down and shop online (don't forget the restraint thing). Many of the deals are just as good as those in the brick-and-mortar shops, but I have found discrepancies in the past in stores like Target. I never buy anything from Target's website because an order for a Christmas present for Roo was 'lost.' When I tried to re-order, the item was out of stock. I went to purchase the item from amazon and it was late. Bad Santa.

notice Roo's Last Airbender tattoo on his forehead

The other thing in the buyer's favor is that retailers are getting desperate for sales. Since the economic meltdown (I will NOT say recession; don't even get me started on that one), most buyers have severely cut spending. The trend seems to be holding even though economic recovery is slowly taking shape. As a result, in addition to Black Friday, we now have Black November. Prices on current holiday items have been slashed; clearance items from fall inventories are even lower.

It's a buyer's market, but keep your wits about you and stay thrifty.


  1. I have a spending problem tooooo, but it comes in phases. Sometimes I want to do nothing but shop, and then I'll go through a month-long lag where I don't want to shop at all. My father is huge into the Black Friday sales. Me, not so much. My thing is, if you don't want it enough to pay full price for it, then you probably don't need it. I will definitely check out the online sales though. I looove to shop online. There's just something wonderful and Christmas morning-like about getting packages in the mail, don't you think?

  2. You know the old saying about never shopping for groceries when you are hungry? Never shop for gifts without thinking it through. You end up with alot of stuff you got for a 'great price' but most likely stuff you would not have purchased otherwise, you risk over purchasing due to the crazy pricing frenzy and giving gifts you really are not happy with.

  3. I completely agree with you both. I've never been a Black Friday shopper, I don't like crowds. Why would I want to play tug-of-war over a sweater? Besides, this ain't a sample sale in Manhattan.