Black Friday is a good day to live intentionally


There’s a massive event happening today, the Torygraph has the when and where all taped

The biggest shopping day of the year is almost upon us, so what and when is Black Friday, and how you can get your hands on the best deals and discounts? It’s here! The shopping extravaganza takes place the day after Thanksgiving, which is the fourth Thursday in November. This year, Black Friday falls on November 27.

People are going to be fighting each other over TVs and similar artificially created scarcity. The best deals are to be had when we ignore this artifice of marketing sleazebags to get us all to buy stuff we don’t need to impress people we don’t like with money we don’t have[ref]I’m aware of the irony of using pop culture funded by advertising against advertising. There are some pretty slick threads on Tyler Durden and his band of fellow fight clubbers, product placement at work and all that. What the hell – all’s fair in love and war[/ref].

Even 20% off something you 100% didn’t need before you saw the ad is 100% too much money, not 80%. Heck, even if you did need/want it buying into the concept of 20% off to buy it at a time of their choosing rather than your choosing is giving precious headspace to the ad-men, they got a hook into your head. They wouldn’t do it if they didn’t expect to get more of a win out of you.

So let’s keep it real, today, what we need is buy nothing day. Because we’re all running out of time, 24 hours every day. Even if you like working, there’s no dignity in working to be a puppet on a string to someone else’s agenda.

I learned something in the seven lean years since the start of my journey to financial independence that began in February 2009.

I learned what enough looks like

And once you know what enough looks like, you don’t need to dance at the end of a string because somebody wants you to Buy It Now. No. If I want something I will damn well buy it at a time and place of my choosing. And I am rich enough to be able to ignore the desperate blandishments, because once you know what enough looks like 20% off some bauble is lost in the noise. It’s only when you are spending 110% of your income that this becomes a deal-maker.

Advertising is the mind-killer. Advertising is the little-death that brings total obliteration.  I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. When the advertising has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

Litany against advertising riffed off Frank Herbert’s Dune


29 thoughts on “Black Friday is a good day to live intentionally”

  1. That last quote is really good, Old Frank was a bit of a dude, wasn’t he. Reminded me of some song lyrics, from an old System of a Down track, not quite as eloquent as Frank;

    Need therapy, therapy,
    Advertising causes need,
    Need therapy, therapy,
    Advertising causes need.

    What a splendid pie,
    Pizza-pizza pie,
    Every minute, every second,
    Buy, buy, buy, buy, buy,

    Me – I’m still figuring out what enough looks like, but that is being whittled down further and further each passing month. I’ll keep it real today and but nothing 🙂


  2. It never stops to amaze me when I read my friends facebook post. Recently one of them bought 5 yes FIVE sets of window curtains for their living room because they were on 75% offer. They claim they saved almost £300 I would argue they have wasted £100.

    Advertisers always tell you how many % you are going to “save” on their deal. There is only one sure way to save 100% and this is buying less stuff.


    1. That is wild – sounds like they spend 25% more than they would have done if they paid full price. And they now have to store four spare sets somewhere…


  3. This is the first year we’re engaging in Black Friday marketing. I’m happy that a super discounted budget TV makes someone somewhere happy. It’s just not for me.

    However, I do wish I could educate those queuing up overnight for these types of “deal” that there’s more to life than this, so I’ll just keep posting links to your blog.


  4. As far as I can tell Black Friday is connected with Thanksgiving and therefore has about as much to do with Britain as…..well, Christmas…oh!?


    1. For a marketing people any excuse to push advertisement is good one. I know it has nothing to do with Britain it has nothing to do with any country and happens in quite a few. Even no English speaking countries.

      If they could get away with it we would have Black Friday every month.


  5. I looked at Amazon’s page today, and apart from the thought, gosh you can get laser printers for £40, I remember when they were £1000′, nothing excited me. Sainsbury’s double points redemption scheme this week got me to buy some nice wine, but I couldn’t think of a household item I wanted. And if I did want anything, I’d research it for an hour so, to get the best one. I guess flash sales are just not aimed at me.

    I have all the things I need, except the thing I crave most, escape from a job I hate.


    1. It’s one of those strange things that luxuries/nonessentials like those printers are getting much cheaper, but some of the essentials (housing, other living/working costs) are getting dearer over the years. Which feels like a raw deal with a dusting of apparent luxury fairydust to sweeten the bitter pill.


      1. Sorry, another ‘loss leader’: so the printer costs £40 – great. What about the cost of toner cartridges (probably with expiry dated smart chips causing the printer to whinge and refuse to print at an inopportune time) ?

        I had a heads-up about that sort of thing years ago with a (relatively) cheap inkjet all-in-one printer. Sure it was cheap, but the bugger’s got no less than SEVEN cartridges, all of which run out with amazing speed unless it’s on ultra ultra economy “use next to no ink” mode.

        I only use it as a network scanner these days – it’s great for that but I use a regular mono laser printer for general documents, and the toner on that lasts literally years (honestly cannot remember when it was last changed).

        Guess which one’s much older than the other, yep, correct 🙂


      2. Funny that – I recently had to change my mother’s magenta colour laser printer cartridge. Once upon a time you used to be able to print into end of life and okay, you got a streaky print buy you got something, and you could take the cartridge out, shake it a bit and eke out another few pages. But no, this one just refused to print until that was changed, and shaking didn’t cut it 😉

        I’m a mono laser printer guy too, for the same reasons. Although stinkyink seems to get the cost of running an inkjet printer to acceptable levels for Mrs Ermine


  6. @JDR
    > How much of this learning came before / after the moment you left work ?

    The vast majority of it came in the three years while I saved as much as I could while working. My parents had taught me well to avoid spending more than I earn, but I had failed across thirty years to improve on that. At the end I found myself in the position John B so succinctly described, and then I looked at my spending and discovered how much waste there was, much compensating for the stress of working. I pushed my salary down to nearly the national minimum wage and saved much of the excess – it wasn’t a heap of fun while working but it paid dividends (both literally and metaphorically).

    I refined some of the learning since finishing work, because I totally didn’t appreciate how many things get easier/cheaper/better when you have the time to do things your way, and take opportunities that arise as Jim sketches out here. I will have much more income soon when I get hold of my pension savings, but I will have to seriously think about what do I do with more than enough – I want for little now, because the most precious gift is owning my own time. One other thing I learned since retiring is how to use hedonic adaptation better. Go upmarket, and reduce frequency, and rotate the things/experiences. That means a four star hotel infrequently rather than B&Bs or three star hotels more often. Similarly rather than the daily latte, a really decent restaurant every so often.


    1. “Go upmarket, and reduce frequency …”

      Quite agree – things become samey and less appreciated when they’re done on a regular basis. Rather like volunteering (ha !) to take on a task at work it can quickly become “expected” rather than “appreciated”, and the rest of them take badly to it when you stop doing it, you citing it was only done “to help out in a mini-crisis at the time” and “wasn’t in your remit/job description/etc”. There’s often a failure to understand at this point.

      Mind you, I count my luxuries as being able to eat healthily, get out and about, walking in areas of terrific scenery and marvel at the fact of our mere existence on this planet. You don’t have to spend much to achieve that, not really, and life becomes so much more enjoyable when there’s a break in the exposure to the “financial stress and hassle” that occupies us so much of the time (probably more than we care to acknowledge).

      Oops, better be careful or Ermine’ll be back outside with his camera, taking pictures of blackbirds wolfing down pyracantha berries or whatever 😉


      1. Waxwings incoming – and indeed I have found the first ever use for Twitter (via googling if waxwings were about) – they have reached Snettisham and Felixstowe. Thought it was a bit chilly last night!


  7. Oh-ho, we’re back to ‘loss leaders’ again, aren’t we ? (

    Around here, it’s “house policy” not to buy ANYTHING on my own doorstep. How can you tell if it’s a good deal or not until you have chance to do a little “research” ? It doesn’t stop me getting people attempting to sell double-glazing (they didn’t look too closely), solar panels (the roof has one job to do and it’s done it rather well for decades – not compromising that thanks !), and everything from stuff out of hold-alls to “save this or that endangered species, just needs a direct debit, etc”.

    I’m with Shrek on that lot !

    This whole “save 20% on something you didn’t need in the first place” definitely strikes a chord with me. I have a cutting from a local newspaper on my office wall. It shows a couple standing outside and looking at the “Come in and save 50%” banner in the shop window. The caption ? “Let’s stay out and save 100%” Quite.

    @MrZ: Pizza ? Just this morning, along with the other dross on the doormat was the local pizza delivery leaflet (damn near booklet actually – who ? never mind) The back of it has the usual “Meal Deals”, all of which are over £12, with FREE LOCAL DELIVERY ?! Hmm. I can probably eat (more healthily too) for about a week for £12 ! Who are they kidding ?


    1. I try and generalise that to all advertising, though I absolutely agree never buy on the doorstep. In general if the great deal comes to you, it usually is a great deal for someone else, just not a great deal for you 😉


    2. @Mike – I’m not even going to pretend to understand what they were chirping on about, other than the mind bending power of advertising.

      We get pamphlets daily for pizza or advertising estate agents…life’s essentials.


  8. The danger with up-speccing is it becomes the new norm. “Oh, I wouldn’t dream of flying anything but premium economy, and that pass for the airport lounge is an lifesaver, daaarling”. I’d rather have the time to spend 2 weeks on holiday in B&B than work hard and have a long weekends in fancy resorts. I’ve become rich by earning more and more, but keeping a new graduate level of spending.


    1. the trick with up-speccing is to also reduce frequency 😉 Though everyone probably hedonically adapts differently – that works for me. I’d rather spend a couple hundred pounds on a decent meal out with good wine every six months than have, say, one of Mike’s £12 pizzas every week


      1. That’s pretty much what we do – go out to a local restaurant (we’ve a long standing favourite that’s got a good reputation locally and is not bad on price) when it’s a family member’s birthday.

        Needless to say, the pizza delivery “offers” get appropriately recycled. Nothing much truly goes to waste around here 😉


  9. The feeding frenzy of brain-washed consumers that reaches its apogee on this brand-newly created event – Black Friday – is just fascinating to an amateur student of psychology …’s like rubber-necking at car crashes, you know it’s not good to stare, but just can’t help it, not out of bad intent but in wonder at why they do it.

    This frenetic, almost panicky behaviour really is at the level of mis-comprehension for the likes of a rational person, as big as any cultural misunderstanding …. & I’m not judging, they would equally wonder what is wrong with someone like me for not getting it – how can anyone go wrong with a bigger TV?

    But, our current merciless climate of the Neoliberal austerity cult will eat them alive – they’re walking unthinkingly into slavery … be poor in our society is to forfeit most of your rights.


  10. Well we have “Black Friday” in Canada too even though our Thanksgiving weekend was 6 weeks ago. The Need to Spend is an International thing I guess.
    I got into this Black Friday stuff last year when my 3 year old laptop and my 20 year old audio receiver both died on “Needy Thursday.” To be honest I got good deals – although if you need customer service or advice in a bricks and mortar store on Black Friday forget it.
    Makes you wonder howcum a laptop lasts 3 years, a desktop 10 and an old receiver 20 or more – but I guess that’s a topic for another rant.
    My daughter has had her laptop 3 years, broke the screen, the power brick and now one of the hinges. She’s getting a good Black Friday deal on a new one, she says. At least her old one worked long enough to order the new one online and not butt heads with all the morons in the stores today.


  11. Today is pay day, and there are some winter cycling items I’ve been waiting to buy, but I refuse to buy them on Black Friday out of stubborn principle. I’ll wait until tomorrow or next week.

    Touching on your reply to JDR, I’ve got 8.5 years left at The Firm (to 55) which is hugely optimistic the way things are going (there’s some worried faces among the big spenders with outgoings to match). However, I wanted to say thank you for everything I’ve learned from your blog. Like your final years, my salary is now pushed down to way below the minimum wage and every day I’m getting closer to knowing what enough looks like.

    Right… off to You Tube and the media to check out todays carnage!


  12. Hah, I generally think the whole thing is ridiculous, drumming up excitement for crap no-one needs but compulsively buys just because it’s a ‘deal’, but I actually found myself shopping on Black Friday somewhat by accident: my 9 year old laptop finally started giving up the ghost a couple weeks ago and I half heartedly looked online, yesterday I had a quick look on Moneysavingexpert’s Black Friday page and saw John Lewis were doing a lightweight basic Lenovo which would do everything I wanted (according to online reviews) for £99.95. I also found Gap was doing 50% off so when I went to the shopping centre I also got a new pair of my style and size of jeans, handy as I’d binned my main pair last weekend when they got too holey! So all in all I had a good Black Friday, and the shopping centre was pretty quiet to stroll through – I think a lot of people are seeing through the craziness.


    1. @Faithless I think there is nothing wrong with buying on Black Friday if you was going to buy anyway like in your case. But a lot of people are going crazy buying stupid things like I mentioned before 5 sets of curtains for no reason. Still UK did much better than what was happening in the US. After TVs being thrown around like they are I would be surprised if half of them worked.


  13. Yeah, I’ve had to work to get out of the mentality my mum has: that’s a great deal, so the more (curtains/bedsheets) I buy, the better!

    She’s quite frugal in a way – last year she bought a load of ridiculously cheap queen size hotel quality white bedsheets and made very expensive feeling high thread count duvet covers from them, but she bought enough to make 3 or 4, despite it being just the one bed used and having a half dozen+ duvet covers already!

    I’m grateful for discovering FI/RE and minimalism blogs online, otherwise my house would likely be as cluttered as theirs with ‘bargains’!
    (I can’t complain too much about her sewing though, last week she nipped in at the waist my £8 like-new-fancy-brand charity shop winter coat find, so it fits me like a glove!)


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