Thanksgiving is supposed to be a time abut being with family and friends, giving thanks for what we have in our lives, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and perhaps some football as well. Once the day is over (and now with stores opening at midnight, probably before the day is complete) people’s attentions turn to the next “holiday” that immediately follows: Black Friday, the unofficial kick-off to the holiday gift-giving season. While Thanksgiving is supposed to be about giving thanks and being with loved ones, thousands of stores require employees to cut short their holiday in order to return to work to stock shelves and prepare for the throngs of shoppers that will descend upon the stores come the early morning hours of the fourth Friday in November.
Millions of people cut short their holiday celebrations to head off to bed in order to get their sleep so that they may join the hoards of shoppers lining up outside stores to be among the first to enter. The day of thanks turns to a pathetic display of greed and insanity. There was the story of a Long Island, NY Walmart employee who was trampled to death while shoppers continued to push their way into the store as emergency workers attempted to assist the man. What about the Troy, MI Meijers store, where three brothers attempted to use a blow up doll to purchase a 42-inch plasma television that was discounted $400. In Sunrise, FL a year or two ago Roxana Sonora and her daughter Sierra, 13 were the first shoppers in line at a Best Buy store where they waited since Tuesday at 10 PM. The stories range from ridiculously funny to horribly tragic.
While this may seem like a commentary on the lack of morals or family values of today’s society, it is actually a commentary on the utter lack of prioritization of society. I won’t even get into the the state of the economy, but imagine if everyone put even a fraction of the energy and dedication into their everyday finances as they do when going into Black Friday–so many people would be in a lot less trouble that they are today. Just like managing finances, this huge shopping event takes planning, which begs the question: Why can people plan for Black Friday but claim to be unable to plan and budget their normal finances?
The reality is that it takes a large amount of time to go through all of the store advertisements and research products. It takes time to plan the schedule for the day of shopping: coordinating schedules, finding someone to watch the kids, planning out the travel and shopping routes, figuring out which are the best places and arranging the day accordingly. It takes time to sit out in front of a store for hours or even days to ensure getting the best deals. Now if that kind of time and dedication was put into setting up and following a budget for things like saving for a college education or retirement, building up a savings/emergency account, and paying down debt, many people would be in a much better position than they are right now. Even the holiday shopping season would be easier if more time and effort were used toward planning and budgeting for it. Higher-yielding online savings accounts or even CDs could provide a buffer and interest earned can be used to offset some of the costs. Store loyalty programs can be used to gain even more savings.
Truth be told, many people are perfectly capable of making sacrifices in order to reach what they claim to be their “goals”. Unfortunately, as evidenced by the amount of time and effort that goes into planning and budgeting for Black Friday, people are simply too lazy or just do not care enough to commit the same type of effort into their everyday finances.
Your thoughts: Do you think it’s laziness or something else like the thrill of a deal that gets people into the strategic thinking mode at this time of the year? Do you agree that it wouldn’t be as hard to shop if the planning started months in advance?