11.23.2007

It's 7:30am and I'm already an hour and a half late

Black Friday, named for its propensity for thrusting struggling businesses into the black, is well under way. Most sales I've seen advertised started at 6am this morning.

when i first heard the term "black friday" i thought it was some sort of reference to this day exemplifying the commercial exploitation of everything in our nation. Apparently it's not that dark a shade of black.

I was not raised to think this way. We hit the sales as hard as anyone else. As I've grown I've realized that my parents spend relatively responsibly (although I've heard financial woes expressed over the new kitchen counters) and while they are not averse to spending on credit, they are diligent in repaying those debts quickly.

Somehow, I missed that part when I was young. On tour in Las Vegas with the performing choir I was a part of in college, I leaped at the chance to get a free water bottle for signing up for a credit card. Then there was a booth offering a free t-shirt. It became a sort of joke of who could get the most free crap for signing up for credit cards.

A couple thousand dollars later, I came to grips with the fact that I spent money on credit that I didn't actually have. That's why now I'm not going to spend any money that I don't already have. Being in debt can be manageable and even advantageous for some people. For us, the freedom that comes from having zero consumer debt (we did finance a house) is priceless. Especially because life keeps rocking, debt or no. Unexpected tax bills, emergency room visits and the like are always sneaking up on us, reminding us that having no debt allows us to pay those off quickly, rather than adding a big chunk to an already heavy load.

So today, black friday, we'll be participating in National Buy Nothing Day. To me it's an intentional statement toward our nation learning to live within its means. It's an intentional choice not to go into the lion's den where I know that everything is aimed at getting me to buy more than I came for. And I probably would, just like most Americans. That's why companies do it...it works.

No comments: