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Avoid the Black Friday Frenzy


Whoa, retailers are going all out this year for the Black Friday shopping season. Many stores are opening earlier on Thanksgiving and it’s easy to get caught up in the advertising frenzy. 2013 is even more urgent than usual because we have a shorter shopping season. Thanksgiving isn’t until the last week in November this year and 6 less shopping days until Christmas.  Wal-Mart, Toy R Us, and many other retailers are going all out with their advertising hype. It’s also partly our fault because in 2012, 35 million Americans went shopping on Thanksgiving. That’s up from 29 million in 2011.

Actually, I haven’t paid much attention to the hype surrounding Black Friday this year. I only knew about the shortened shopping season because I heard it on the local news. With a small child, it wouldn’t be fun to go shopping so early in the morning. I never had much luck on Black Friday anyway because we always got there a little too late and we didn’t really want to wade into the crowd.

Shouldn’t Thanksgiving be about taking it easy and being thankful? We should take a day off and spend time with our families. We rarely have the chance to relax these days because everyone is so busy. This year, I’ll roast a leg of lamb and Mrs. RB40 will cook a bunch of side dishes. It’s not the traditional turkey, but I’m sure we’ll overeat and crash just like we do every year. We definitely won’t be going shopping on Thursday and probably won’t even step outside. Thanksgiving is the perfect day to hole up at home. If you’re like us, here are some strategies to avoid the shopping craziness.

Just ignore it

It’s not easy to avoid Black Friday with all the advertising efforts going on around us. If you don’t need anything, then you should avoid opening any junk mail for the next 10 days. It’s probably a good idea to avoid watching commercials too. I don’t really need anything this year so I haven’t looked at any ads at all.

Have a game plan

Mrs. RB40 on the other hand wants to go to Cost Plus World Market on Black Friday. I’m not sure what she wants to buy there. I think she just wants to browse a bit. It’s a good place to pick up some wine and Christmas gifts. I might go with her if RB40 Jr. is up and at ’em when she leaves. That’s the only store she plans to visit on Black Friday. If you have to go, then have a game plan and minimize the number of stores you’ll visit. Also make sure to set a budget and stick to it.

Go with Cyber Monday instead

If you don’t like crowds, then Cyber Monday is the way to go. The worst part about Black Friday is standing in line. In previous years, I’d grab a pack of socks (50% off!) and then I’d have to stand in line for 20 minutes. That sucks. I guess if I buy a cartload of stuff, I wouldn’t mind standing in line so much. (That’s why I don’t like Costco. Everyone has a huge cart full of stuff and I’m stuck behind with a few items.) It’s so much easier to buy online. Amazon has almost anything you can ask for and I think they should have a pretty good Cyber Monday sale.

Just wait for the after Christmas sale

Another option is to just wait for the after Christmas sale. This is my usual strategy for buying clothes. Retailers will be desperate and put everything on discount after Christmas. A ton of people will also be returning gifts that should be further discounted. According to various internet sources, December 26th is the best day of the year for clothes shopping. There will be big discounts and the inventory hasn’t been picked clean yet. I’m waiting until after New Year’s this time though because I’m still going strong on my no new clothing in 2013 challenge.

Enjoy Thanksgiving

Luckily we don’t need any new appliances, electronics, kitchen stuff, or toys this year. We can just cook, drink, overeat, watch football, and crash on the couch like the old days. That’s what Thanksgiving is all about. We might go out for a bit on Black Friday, but it shouldn’t be more than an hour.

What’s your game plan this Thanksgiving? What are you thankful for?

photo credit: flickr michael holden

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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, he hated the corporate BS. He left his engineering career behind to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. At Retire by 40, Joe focuses on financial independence, early retirement, investing, saving, and passive income.

For 2018, Joe plans to diversify his passive income by investing in US heartland real estate through RealtyShares. He has 3 rental units in Portland and he believes the local market is getting overpriced.

Joe highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help every investor analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.
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{ 35 comments… add one }
  • C. the Romanian November 18, 2013, 1:37 am

    Although there’s no Thanksgiving celebration in Romania, we’ve “adopted” the Black Friday concept and it was pretty fun, actually and I did score some nice deals a couple of years ago. And this year we have to buy some more stuff for the house, and we’re hoping to find what we need during Black Friday. We’re setting a shopping list and a budget, though, to make sure that we don’t get too carried away.

    • retirebyforty November 18, 2013, 3:24 pm

      That’s quite interesting. I guess retailers everywhere need a big event like Black Friday.

  • [email protected] November 18, 2013, 1:49 am

    Wow I didn’t even know about Cyber Monday! All my shopping is done online these days so I guess I shouldn’t get caught up with the Black Friday Frenzy anyway!

    • retirebyforty November 18, 2013, 3:25 pm

      Cyber Monday has been popular for many years! 🙂 Enjoy!

  • moneystepper November 18, 2013, 2:35 am

    I’m still convinced that the best bargains on Black Friday are staying indoors and not buying anything!!

    • retirebyforty November 18, 2013, 3:25 pm

      Thursday definitely, but Friday…. Maybe go out for just a little bit. 🙂

  • Daddy Domestic November 18, 2013, 4:40 am

    We certainly have developed a consumer culture in this country. Advertisers have seized on the Black Friday and Christmas push. Christmas has only been a major shopping holiday for a little over 100 years in the US. At the start of the 20th century Macy’s Department Store advertised the heck out of the St Nicholas story……and walla, Santa Claus and gifts for everyone became the norm.

    In our house it’s all about time together as a family. My wife’s family likes to bond over board games, and my side usually spends it’s time telling stories. Last year I made my first Black Friday purchases in years. I like a particular type of oxford cloth dress shirt, specifically JC Penny’s Safford brand in long sleeves. So I saw that the shirts would be $12.50 a piece and purchased 4 or 5. I should have bought 10 honestly. I know it’s a quaint concept, but if we all just buy what we need……we’ll have enough.

    • retirebyforty November 18, 2013, 3:27 pm

      It’s good for the economy for people to spend some money. We just need to recognize that we don’t have to join the frenzy if we don’t need to. 🙂

  • Jane Savers @ Solving The Money Puzzle November 18, 2013, 5:24 am

    I can’t believe how early your stores are opening on Thanksgiving Day. Black Friday is no longer the big day because your retailers have taken away the holiday and opened it up for shopping.

    I am Canadian and our citizens will fill your malls and motels for the big shopping weekend. They will complain all weekend about hard it is for young people in our community to get jobs while they spend their money helping Americans keep theirs.

  • [email protected] November 18, 2013, 5:33 am

    We have a family get-together on Thanksgiving and it’s going to be a blast! I admit I’m going out on Black Friday….but just for one thing! Hopefully I’ll be back in bed by 5:00 a.m. or so. There is one deal for my 4-year-old that is too good to pass up =)

    • retirebyforty November 18, 2013, 3:28 pm

      We only have a small gathering this year, but it will still be fun. What toy are you getting?

      • [email protected] November 19, 2013, 5:08 am

        I’m getting a kindle fire for our family. It’s kind’ve for our four-year-old but I’m giving it as a family gift to us for us all to share.

  • dojo November 18, 2013, 5:39 am

    We’re gonna ignore it, just as we did all these years. We don’t have anything we clearly need now and just to spend money on ‘deals’ is not such a great idea, if you want to actually save money and not gather too much junk anymore 😀

  • Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial November 18, 2013, 5:54 am

    Ugh, Black Friday. I agree, the best way to deal with it is to avoid it and ignore it! And then go with Cyber Monday instead 🙂

  • SavvyFinancialLatina November 18, 2013, 6:48 am

    We did Thursday and Friday last year because we had some specific purchases to make. This year we are also going to be shopping because we have to buy a couple of things for the house including a fridge. So I’m taking advantage of the sales. Plus, at the house, after dinner, everybody watches the football game or takes a nap. So, it really isn’t bad to leave the house to go shopping.

  • EL @ Moneywatch101 November 18, 2013, 9:34 am

    I prefer the idea behind hanging out and relaxing on Thursday, it is just perfect after a big meal. In the past I have taken advantage of Black Friday deals, but I go when I go, and if I miss something I had in mind to get, I say oh well, and just move on. I do not dwell on getting to stores at 4am. The last time I went out on black Friday I got to target at 11 am. I still got some good gifts for cheap. I will never go to the stores on Thursday unless I run out to grab more food.

    • retirebyforty November 18, 2013, 3:29 pm

      Yeah, camping out in this weather is just crazy.

  • Mom @ Three is Plenty November 18, 2013, 10:03 am

    I avoid the whole thing altogether – I don’t care how good of a deal is advertised, it’s not worth the hassle. By the time November rolls around, I’ve bought almost all the gifts I’m going to buy anyway – anything else can be made or bought online.

    My cousin and her daughter go every year – they’re nuts!

  • FI Fighter November 18, 2013, 1:09 pm

    I’m trying to avoid Black Friday altogether this year, again. However, I would really much like to go out there and see what the PS 4 and XBOX One are all about.

    I just want to try it out and compare the two… that’ll be my fix for Black Friday.

  • Kurt @ Money Counselor November 18, 2013, 4:06 pm

    The whole Black Friday phenomenon is a huge mystery to me, I guess because I’m not a shopper or bargain hound by nature. I don’t like to shop any day of the year, but BF is the one day I’d NEVER shop. Too many crazies out there, like the first day of deer hunting season!

  • Micro November 18, 2013, 5:56 pm

    I didn’t know that about the day after Christmas for clothes. I’ve normally justed tried to get buy on what I had until it was the end of the season. You can usually get some good deals on winter clothes when the stores are trying to move the inventory out to make way for summer. I’m also a fan of cyber Monday. I can search for deals from the comfort of my own home. It’s not so much the people or the crowds that bother me but the crazy (expletive) drivers. I prefer to avoid them at all costs.

  • Matt Becker November 18, 2013, 7:00 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever been shopping on Black Friday, but I have a pair of shoes that I want and I’m trying to figure out if I should wait. I’m so clueless on this stuff that I haven’t even figured out how to figure out if the store is going to have a sale. Talk about first world problems!

  • Retire Before Dad November 19, 2013, 3:37 am


    I’ve been reading a lot of blogs calling to boycott black Friday altogether. This is a great idea for the frugally minded. We can stay home and enjoy our families, avoid traffic, and usually find some random football games. When I visit my parents who live in another town, I usually spend Friday at a friends house. The retailers are so worried about this shortened holiday shopping period. I heard Wal-mart started opening at midnight a few years back and they bragged about how successful it was, so now everyone has to join in.


    • retirebyforty November 19, 2013, 11:16 pm

      I wouldn’t call for a boycott. Somebody has to help improve the economy. 🙂

  • davidmichael November 19, 2013, 4:52 am

    At the Amazon factory in Fernley, NV we are on mandatory overtime for this peak season, meaning 50-55 hours per week. Bins are stuffed to maximum capacity waiting for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The good side of all this consumerism is it does employ lots of people around the USA. At this point, we have a three day holiday next week with Thanksgiving off. Our extra paychecks are going into the Peer Lending bucket for building more passive income. The whole thing is amazing!

    • retirebyforty November 19, 2013, 11:17 pm

      Gosh, mandatory overtime. That has to be tough on older folks. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  • Jamie V November 19, 2013, 7:27 am

    We usually do our shopping on Cyber Monday, if we do any shopping at all (not this year – saving money instead!). We do not need the stress of Black Friday Madness, and we certainly do no need to see (even more of) humanity acting in that manner – people get trampled, which is so sad. I like to go to our family’s Thanksgiving dinner, be thankful (for not being forced to work on this evening included), and stay warm, calm, happy! Driving home, we see the campers outside the store entrances and are thankful that our savings are growing instead of our accumulation of crap. In ten or fifteen years when those people are waiting again to buy their 10th big screen “on sale”, we’ll be in Aruba or somewhere else exotic enjoying the sunshine and waves on the beach. 🙂 I’m thankful that we can even dream that dream and not think it so impossible anymore!

    • retirebyforty November 19, 2013, 11:18 pm

      Great attitude! We don’t need to accumulate any more stuff either. Our place is already full. Good luck!

  • Bryce @ Save and Conquer November 19, 2013, 11:10 am

    The only Black Friday purchase I ever made was a killer deal. We were in the midst of remodeling our kitchen and I went to the local Sears store to purchase a new convection oven with cooktop. I got to the store in the mid-morning and people were running around like idiots trying to snatch the sale items before someone else could. I went to the appliance section and found the oven we wanted. I then found a sales person and asked about the price for the oven (I had previously seen it would be on sale in an online ad). The sales person quoted a price lower than the ad. It was about 50% off their normal price. We wrote up the receipt with home delivery. That was my first and only time shopping in the mall on Black Friday. Ever since, I have purchased Black Friday items online.

    • retirebyforty November 19, 2013, 11:19 pm

      That’s a nice score. 🙂

  • Pretired Nick November 19, 2013, 2:20 pm

    There is no way I’d go anywhere near any kind of shopping area from mid-November through New Years. It’s just too aggravating. I find the whole thing pretty annoying, actually.

  • Michelle November 19, 2013, 7:14 pm

    I am celebrating Black Friday by paying off a credit card. I’m not anti-Black Friday and actually like the energy of the day but I’m in a different place right now. I will mellow out, spend time with friends and family and be grateful for what I have. Super easy.

    • retirebyforty November 19, 2013, 11:22 pm

      That’s great! Enjoy your time off.

  • Woman with a Plan November 19, 2013, 8:19 pm

    I don’t think I have ever been shopping on Black Friday. With my extended family, that day is usually spent traveling to another family gathering and eating another Thanksgiving meal.

    This year, however, we won’t be traveling home for Thanksgiving. It will just be the three of us. I don’t know why our culture goes bonkers for Black Friday “deals”. I see the sales as hawking stuff you don’t need to get you in the door to buy more stuff you don’t need that is not on sale. No thanks.

  • Evan November 22, 2013, 6:27 pm

    I think I hate black Friday so much because people talk about how terrible the experience is and how bad it is that the retailers are open….BUT THEN THEY GO!? Just speak with your wallet lol If no one went they wouldn’t be open

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