Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and counting our blessings of all the ways God has blessed us this year. We eat a bountiful feast, enjoying time with loved ones. But that evening brings the biggest shopping day of the year- Black Friday. Businesses try to recoup any deficits in their profits, hoping their numbers go from in the red to in the black. Companies offer discounts on products and pour millions of dollars into their advertising budgets to convince shoppers they need these products to make their Christmas as magical as possible.
Black Friday shopping needs to be kept in check. Many events in years past indicate this shopping day can be not only an expense to your wallet but also to your health. News reports demonstrate that people become involved in physical altercations because of this day. God says we are to be good stewards of what He has given us, including our money. While it's not wrong to go shopping on Black Friday, there are some ways we can score some deals and keep our spirituality in check (and some money in our wallets.) Here are six ways to shop on Black Friday without losing your integrity:
1. Budget Wisely
Although many shoppers wait for Black Friday to do their Christmas shopping, they often default to a credit card to maintain spending, entering the New Year with a new set of bills. God wants us to be wise with our money and not spend it unwisely. Set a limit as to the amount spent on each family member. If you are used to spending more money than you can afford for Christmas, ask yourself the question: why do I need to spend this much? If you can't afford many gifts, let family members know you need to make a change. Set a limit on an amount you can afford per relative and stick to it. Family members understand that in this economy, people cannot afford gifts like they once did. Chances are they enjoy having everyone together to celebrate the holidays rather than a large gift wrapped under the tree.
Christmas is magical, mostly for children. If they believe in Santa Claus, Christmas is a special day when their biggest wishes can be granted. But some adults try to recreate that magic by spending excessive amounts on gifts they cannot afford to escape from ordinary life. In doing this, they hope to recreate the magic they once had as a child. We cannot buy people's love, nor should we try. Be a good steward by giving thoughtful gifts at prices that don't put a huge strain on your wallet.
2. Buy Only for Kids
If you have a large family, Christmas shopping for every member can be stressful. If buying for each member proves too difficult, try to buy one larger gift for the whole family or only buy for the kids. Kids have the most fun during the holidays. Allocate more dollars to giving them a special day rather than buying a gift for each family member that they may not want or need. Even worse, when we don't know what to buy them, we resort to gift cards, which basically require the receiver to buy their own gift. Have a heart-to-heart conversation with your family members and decide if buying gifts for each family member is feasible this year. You can also suggest buying gifts for one sibling or chipping in to buy one gift for your parents. Doing so can wrangle in your budget and give the children in your lives a bit more holiday cheer.
3. Save Thoughtfully
Although budgets are tight, we know Christmas comes on December 25th every year. By utilizing some simple organizational tools, we can save for Christmas around the year and have enough money to snag that Black Friday deal. There are budgeting and saving apps you can use, or you can use the old-fashioned "envelope method" with labels on them. Place aside a certain amount of dollars every paycheck. Placed in the envelope and do not spend it. When Black Friday rolls around, you won't have to pass up any bargains because you'll have the money at your fingertips.
4. Try the Three Magi Method
Growing up, I received lots of presents under the Christmas tree. My parents sacrificed all year so I could have a good Christmas. But what defines a good Christmas? Lots of presents? Jesus had very little when he walked the earth. His minimalist approach is something we can adopt all year round as well. To be more intentional about Christmas giving, propose the idea to your family of adopting the Three Magi method. The three magi who visited Jesus each presented him with one gift: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. It was the very best of what they had, and they gave it to baby Jesus as an offering. We can do the same for our family. For each child, we can give them three gifts. Ask them to be intentional about the gifts they want for Christmas. Ask them: if you could receive anything for Christmas, what would it be? It takes the stress off having to purchase a long list and makes them appreciate the gifts they do receive. He encouraged them to ask for gifts that are the most practical and ones they will use the most often.
5. Make Your Gifts
We all know that the best gifts come from the heart. You can make your gifts for people this year if you are particularly crafty. Use Black Friday and take advantage of store discounts on craft supplies and craft books for gift ideas. Make them something you know they will enjoy. It does not have to be the same gift for every person; you can personalize it for each family member. For food lovers, you can bake cookies or other sweet treats to satisfy their sweet tooth. You can paint or draw for the artists in your life and build something to meet a specific need in your family's life. Whatever you choose to do, spend extra time figuring out the perfect gift for each person. The receivers will love that you went out of your way to give them something extra special rather than push a couple of buttons to get the cheapest gift on Black Friday.
6. Buy Before Black Friday
While stores often offer their best deals on Black Friday, shoppers also know that prices are hiked to make up for the discount. Shoppers can be deceived into thinking they're getting a deal when the reality is they may only be saving on shipping or paying the price it would have normally been if it had not been Black Friday. Amazon is now doing a second prime day in the fall, and shoppers can take advantage of those deals as well. Think outside the box when it comes to Black Friday, understanding that some deals that come on that day may not be deals at all.
Every person loves to receive a good bargain on their most wanted items, and Black Friday might be the day when they are most apt to receive them. But by following the tips outlined above, they may find their best deals come before or after Black Friday, and what might be best may be shopping less or making gifts from the heart.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/ Thomas Barwick
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife, and mother. She is a literary agent for Wordwise Media Services and a certified writing coach. Her new children’s book Who God Wants Me to Be encourages girls to discover God’s plan for their careers. When not working, she enjoys sipping a Starbucks latte, collecting 80s memorabilia, and spending time with her family and her crazy dog. For more info, please visit her website www.michellelazurek.