Black Friday: The Saddest Day Of The Year

*This post may contain affiliate links, please see my disclosure

Black Friday – Image by Michael Holden

If you want to witness sadness and the total consummation of the human soul with materialism, stop by your local Best Buy or Wal-Mart sometime this week before Thanksgiving. News sources in California and Ohio are already reporting that a line of people has started forming for the Black Friday door-buster deals. Yes, today is Monday. Yes, there people are foregoing a national holiday to save a few hundred bucks on a friggin’ laptop or camera. Yes, this should probably make you ashamed of what America has done with Christmas, especially the opening day of shopping season. But year after year, hundreds of thousands of people cram into retail stores like a pack of wild dogs, devouring shelf after shelf of mediocre deals on stuff they don’t need.

But The Deals Must Be Worth It, Right?

Surely, waiting outside of a store for an entire week must mean that the deals are incredible! Based on the time spent in line (not working), along with battling the elements and all the food needed to survive, they must be giving away some 60″ LED TV’s, selling surround sound systems for like $0.85, and stuffing your pockets with as many iPhones as you can carry. Most likely they’ll have a selection of catered food and wine, freshly imported from Italy, as well as free haircuts for the first 1,000 suckers people in line. The staff will be most attentive and make shopping the most pleasant experience of the year.

But a quick search of the internet shows me that this is far from reality. Most of the “BIG DEALS” give you a few hundred dollars off an item. And if you were just walking into the store on a normal day, these would be some great deals (you know, assuming you had money set aside in your Christmas savings bucket for them). But people are lining up 5 or 6 days in advance to grab one of these hot items. So let’s do a mock cost-breakdown of hat people are REALLY spending to get one of these “great deals.”

Assuming they make between $10-$15 an hour and work full-time:

  1. If they skip work to stay in line = $240 – $360
  2. Food for 5 days (at $30 a day) = $150
  3. Water = $8
  4. Disposable waste bag (25 bags) = $33
  5. Shower in a can = $14

Total = $445 – $565

Based on the available sales, if they buy a few of the more expensive items, they might be able to break even. Maybe.

But It’s A Tradition

Really? Yea, well so is Thanksgiving. You know, pilgrims crossed the Atlantic, almost died, some people met with the natives, learned to survive from them and threw a big feast. “But that’s so dated. Who cares about the history of the world and why things are, just give me a new PlayStation!” Is this now what we’ve come to? In one of the news stories that I linked above, they stated that one 16-year-old girl had NEVER sat down and had a Thanksgiving dinner due to the tradition of waiting in line for these Black Friday deals. REALLY?! So they don’t actually need any of this stuff, they are just going so they can say they went as a family tradition.

Here’s an idea; maybe they can start a new family tradition where family gets together, sits at a large table and shares a warm meal. Everyone can share stories of their lives and talk about what in life they are thankful for. Then they can all eat some bird and just enjoy each other’s company without thinking about what stupid electronic they can buy the next day. They can remember how blessed they are to live in America, and remember the people that made it possible. And maybe then my mom wouldn’t have to leave at 11:30pm on a holiday night to go to work and sell a bunch of trinkets to customers who are so obsessed with “savings” that they skip national holidays to buy them (and by “buy” I mean charge it to a credit card that they won’t pay off until next summer).

So, What Would I Buy?

Though I am truly saddened by the brainwash that has whipped America into a frenzy which we call “Black Friday”, it is kind of fun to look at the potential deals that are out there. So, if I were to completely lose my mind, quit my job to stand in a line and give up any and all dignity, here’s what I would buy:

Best Buy – Toshiba 40″ 1080p LCD for $179.99 – Our TV is a little small for our room, and a new TV would be fun to have. Now, we don’t watch much TV (maybe once every two weeks, the rest of the time it’s on our laptop screen), but since we paid $400 for our 32″ 720p TV, this is quite a deal.

Lowe’s – Skil 10″ Compound Miter Saw for $79.00 – With all the wood shop projects I have going on around here, I really need one of these. This one looks like the best price I’ve seen, and decent quality.

And that’s really it. I didn’t see any other killer deals that I really care about. And let’s face it, I don’t make enough money to justify purchasing anything on Black Friday unless it’s on our Christmas list. And these things are definitely not.

What Are You Doing?

So, this Thanksgiving, what are you doing? What will be the dinner conversation in your house? Will it revolve around the new iGadget that you are going to leave dinner early to go get, or will you be able to sit back, relax and enjoy your time with the people you love? We are hosting thanksgiving this year, and we plan on giving thanks for all of the blessing we have been given, and sharing in the blessing of friends and family as well. To waste the precious few moments we get to spend with the ones you love talking about tomorrow’s deals would be a waste of life.

Comments: See above paragraph πŸ™‚

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade

Jacob Wade has been a nationally-recognized personal finance expert for the past decade. He has written professionally for The Balance, The Spruce, LendingTree, Investing Answers, and other widely-followed sites.Β 
He’s also been a featured expert on CBS News, MSN Money, Forbes, Nasdaq, Yahoo! Finance, Go Banking Rates, and AOL Finance.

In 2018, Jacob quit his job and his family decided to sell everything (including their home) to take off on an adventure. They traveled the country in an RV for nearly 3 years, visiting over 38 states, 20+ national parks and eventually settling in the sunshine state!

57 thoughts on “Black Friday: The Saddest Day Of The Year”

  1. I’ve never done this so-called Black Friday shopping which seems to be so big. People are talking about it weeks in advance as if it’s the time of their life. I can’t comment, maybe it is. One thing I wouldn’t do is take the day off of work to shop. I can’t think of anything that is more important than my job when it comes to money and finance.You won’t catch me in line for day, sod that. Things, they come and go, there will always be a sale. Mr.CBB

  2. I never participated in that ridiculousness. I am looking forward to friendly family conversation that is based on our decisions over the year and the decisions we will make on our future. This is the kind of conversation that draws me in.

  3. Santa is done shopping for this year! I will not be doing black friday. I don’t like crowds or competing for junk. I got all my shopping done early so I could skip all of the excitement.

    I know what you mean about the TV. Our great room is huge and our new furniture has to sit so far away from the TV. We finally broke down and bought a larger TV for the living room this weekend….BUT we paid for it entirely with statement credits from our credit card rewards that I have been saving up. So it was FREE!!!

    I hope that you have a great week!!!

    • Nice work, Holly. We’re a bit more than halfway done, but we’re making most of our gifts.

      And nice work on gaming the rewards points to cop a sweet TV! I bet it’s nice watching in your comfy new couch as well πŸ˜‰

  4. I think a lot of people use vacation days instead of getting unpaid time off. So, it makes a little more sense, but I’ll emphasize “a little.”

    I’ve never gone out on Black Friday and I don’t intend to start. My dad’s family and my brother will be getting together this Thursday. I’m sure we’ll watch a little football, eat some food, and simply relax. There will certainly not be any conversations around toys or black friday deals.

  5. I’ll sit down to have a nice Thanksgiving dinner with family. i’ll probably glance through the Black Friday ads, just for kicks, but with no real intentions to buy.

    I do have another Black Friday shopping list, but this one should help, not hurt me in the long run.

    Best wishes!

  6. Weeeeell, I’ve actually participated in Black Friday. Never camped out, but I have gotten in line at 3am. When you see an item you’ve been wanting really bad and it’s well below normal retail prices, it makes my heart smile to get a heck of deal. And BTW…I paid cash…not going into debt for “things”. πŸ˜‰ I’m looking forward to Cyber Monday too! And I still celebrate the Christ in Christmas. πŸ˜‰

    • I think once in a lifetime it’s fun to see what all the hype is about. But a lot of people are really obsessed with the potential “savings” and sacrifice to get these minisclue “deals”. yes, I know you can save hundreds on a TV, but do you really need one? If not, then it’s not a deal. If you do and it’s in your savings, then heck yes, go ahead and buy it! But don’t sacrifice quality family time and holidays for it.

      Now, Cyber Monday is my kind of shopping πŸ™‚ And yes, Christ in Christmas is the most important part of our holidays as well. πŸ™‚

  7. I won’t be doing anything this year other than going into work and spacing out for 8 hours. I did black Friday once and got a TV for a goor price (better than usual) but I just showed up in the middle of the day since I knew it wasn’t a “doorbuster” and wasn’t going to be that in demand.

    I guess if people want to take place in this go ahead, it’s just not my idea of a good time to wait in line and deal with crowds, unless I am waiting to get on a rollercoaster, then I am ok with both lines and crowds (but would prefer they weren’t there)

    • We did the same with my mother-in-law’s TV. No lines, tons of extra workers to help out and got a great deal.

      Maybe they should have rollercoasters IN the Best Buy……Hmmmm…. πŸ™‚

  8. I’m not a shopper, but Black Friday is surely the one day of the year I’d never go anywhere near a mall or shopping center. I’m with you–it’s a sad, disturbing spectacle seeing what people are willing to do and how they’re willing to humiliate themselves to get ‘the goods’ for, supposedly, a few bucks less. I observe Buy Nothing Day!

    • I like “buy nothing day”. I’ll probably celebrate as well, unless I find something on my list. It really is a sad scene, but I sometime like just going out and watching for the pure psychological observation of it all. Very fascinating!

  9. I don’t usually get anything on Black Friday and I don’t think I’ll be getting anything on Black Friday this year. None of the deals are worth the hassle of dealing with the crowds and I expect many of the deals will be available later.

  10. I refuse to do any shopping ON Thanksgiving, unless its after I have put on my fat pants and am veging out on the couch with the computer!

    I have never done the crazy standing in line thing at individual stores like Best Buy or Walmart. I did have a tradition with my baby sister (baby bc she is 12 years younger than me, but she is over 21!) where we would go to the mall at the 5am opening. There are good deals but you don’t have to wait in lines outside for hours to get in and the stores are so spread out that its not too insane. Now this was a few years ago before stores started opening on Thanksgiving. I also worked at a bath and body works one year and did the early opening. It was great as an employee…we were allowed to come in early and shop the deals before the doors opened. People were not mean and we got to shop at other places on our break! I liked it.

    My husband and his friend did the best buy tv thing a few years ago…but they went only 2 hours ahead and got what they wanted at a great price and I’m watching Pocahontas on it right ow with our girls! We had it for 5 years and its worked great…it was a good buy!

    • Yay for fat pants!

      Stores opening on Thanksgiving is just plain wrong. I will NOT take part in any of that!

      And hey, a deal is a deal, good work on the TV. I just hate seeing people sacrifice quality time for a good deal.

  11. I hate Black Friday. Having worked in retail and been on the other side of it, I find it utterly ridiculous. I’m sure many shoppers are nice and polite, but the rude and irrational ones keep me away. Plus, I like sleeping in and we have pretty much used up our budget this month.

    • I worked at ‘The Shack’ for a few years during this, and was there at 4am. People just seem to lose their minds for the sales on this day, and to be honest, our sales were garbage. We had once-year super cheaply made products that sold out in 10 minutes, and then everyone asked if we had any more the rest of the day and got angry when we told them we were out.

      • Pretty much how it is. I worked at Victoria’s Secret one year and everyone was going nuts over a tacky free with purchase handbag.

  12. I think you and I feel exactly the same way about black Friday. I’d rather have my eyelashes pulled out one by one than get in line at midnight to buy a blender. I love a good deal, but with my new budget there is no reason I have to waste a holiday to save a few dollars.

    • LoL! It really isn’t worth it. I mean, once in a lifetime when you’re younger, sure, but it is pretty ridiculous to see people out there for days before, year after year, the same people…

  13. you took the time to look up the deals, jacob.. so BF must not be totally kooky!!!

    you are right of course, that some folks go overboard.. but overall.. i know that it is good for the economy if people are out there and shopping.. i don’t really participate in it myself (altho last year, i did wait in line and got my son a kindle for 1/2 price at target), but i welcome others to get out there and spend their money πŸ™‚

    • For sure, I want to know what’s on sale, but no way am I sleeping in line to get them πŸ™‚

      I like to sleep in, have a big breakfast, and venture out midday to watch the choas πŸ™‚

      I’m not knocking people for getting great deals, I just hate to see people skip a national holiday altogether and sacrifice family time to get a great deal…

  14. We avoid it like the plague! We have friends that do the whole day thing and I’d rather be hung by my fingernails than do that. Ok, maybe not THAT drastic, but not by much. πŸ™‚ We’ll be at home enjoying a day off with the kids, watching football and doing our shopping online.

  15. I totally agree on how our world has become so engulfed with consumerism and black Friday is the pinnacle of this activity…

    I have never gone out for Black Friday, but seeing that deal above on the LG 40″ TV, I may be going out this year.

  16. It is sad, when you think of it that way. I have never been one to participate in such shopping frenzies, but if you can tolerate it, you can save money. I can’t believe people actually camp out for that long just for a sale. How can you justify that? Based on your calculations, it makes no sense financially.

  17. I love your sarcasm. I waited in line outside a store once when I was 23. It was fun because I was with my friends, but doing it once was enough…. I didn’t for go any days at work, or require the purchase of waste disposal bags (gross) We just played a lot of cards and made some new friends with people around us.

  18. Thanks for reminding us that there is little lasting value in buying stuff. Time with friends and family is truly valuable.

  19. Pingback: Great Reads of the Month | November

Leave a Comment