Sobering Up from the Black Friday Seduction

CONFESSION: This Polinista is secretly obsessed with Black Friday sales.

And I’m not really looking for deals on holiday gifts for other people either. I’m *gasp* actually stalking all of my favorite online retailers for discounts on the cool stuff I want so that I can compile a wish list to send to my family urging them to buy me these things immediately before the sales end. Because, um you know, I’m really looking out for them and want them to get the best deals possible.

I know it all sounds pretty selfish, and the truth is I’ll likely never send the list (though of course I’ve compiled it in Evernote just in case someone asks what they should get me–both my birthday and Christmas are coming up:-). I may just buy some little things for myself *wink

But my obsession with finding sales soothes my guilt of craving material goods–especially since I have champagne taste and in this economy we’re all operating with beer money. And we did just spend yesterday being thankful for the substantive stuff and all…

Nonetheless, I have been seduced all week by the promises of slashed prices and bargain basement deals on all sorts of, well, “crap”, and according to this morning’s news the rest of America has been too. Shoppers are crazed, fighting over sale items like bitches in heat scrambling over the lone stud. It’s madness! Some woman at Wal-Mart pepper-sprayed 15 people over an XBOX, and at least two people have been robbed and shot.

Seeing the crowds stampede and customers carrying on in this way is quite sobering for me. It reminds me that Americans are broke and thirsting for a deal, and retailers are preying on our economic despair. Black Friday is actually their shopping holiday, not ours. Retailers reap big profits that push their balance sheets into the black, while many people fall into the red trying to grab the sales.

Beware: A deal you can’t afford to pay cash for upfront is no steal. So before you whip out the plastic or sign-up for a layaway plan remind yourself that with the interest you could end up paying much more for your items than their regular price. Layaway rates in particular are outrageous, charging the equivalent of up to 40% interest for the “convenience” of paying later.

I assure you the smell of freshly opened cardboard from the new surround sound system you get will be just as invigorating whether you buy it today, or tomorrow. Either way you’d be better off just waiting until you have the cash to afford it. At least that’s what I’m telling myself since I can’t afford one now because I just impulsively bought the top of the line Samsung 46″ LED TV I’ve been dying for. Because it was a killer sale.

I’ve hit my shopping limit for now, and I wish you all willpower as you try to stay within yours. The seduction of Black Friday is hard to overcome, but not worth amassing major debt. So, this Black Friday lets take a page out of the retailer’s book and make sure our finances are balanced and our bank accounts are in the black.

Happy Shopping!