Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I’ve been inundated with a lot of Black Friday promotional crap. Actually, some of it is cool and shiny – sent me a poster & pictures of their cool, well-designed products. You know, things that you absolutely have no need for, but they look awesome and you know you want them.

When I was little and at an arcade, I was (per usual) being annoying and trying to get my mom to buy me more tokens so that I could play more games and win prizes. My brilliant logic – if you buy ten more tokens, then you get the next ten for free, this is so amazing and you save so much money that how could you possibly turn this down!! My mom was all ‘No way. I spend less and thus save more when I buy NO additional tokens’. Ain’t that the truth – I totally understand the thrill of getting something awesome for a great price (case in point: super classy Guess dress that I bought this past weekend on sale & with a discount). However, you’re still better off financially (and probably emotionally) if you don’t buy at all, no matter how great the deal.

The fact that you spend less money if you don't buy anything vs. if you do, is so obvious it's stupid to even say. But I feel like we often forget this basic fact. A classical economist would argue that if we're buying crap we don't need, it's a reflection that the sum utility of having stuff, and the pursuit of it, is more than if we had simply kept our money. So in that sense, we actually need it more than the money. I think that's misleading, and the techniques stores use to get us to buy more (like limited time sales, thereby artificially increasing pressure and urgency) are major factors in our choices.

In the short term, the thrill of an awesome purchase can be hard to resist - but did any of the clothes you buy change your life? Do you remember what you got for Christmas 3 years ago, and would your life have been totally different (and worse) without it? Let's remember that buying more things is not going to build your happiness, and instead celebrate thanksgiving and day-after-thanksgiving by hanging out with friends & family, and stuffing our faces. A friend of mine has dubbed Black Friday 'Wafflesgiving' - and has people over for waffles instead of hitting the malls (he's not a big shopper).

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

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