If it seems like Black Friday promotions are suddenly everywhere, that’s because they are. Commercials and ads constantly push doorbusters and one-day-only steals earlier and earlier each year, and this consumer-focused “holiday” is expanding at a massive rate.
But alongside this flurry of consumerism is a new movement, partly spearheaded by outdoor recreation retailer REI. On Black Friday 2015, REI closed every one of its stores and shut down its online shopping portal. With its hashtag #OptOutside campaign, REI launched a crusade that has garnered millions of followers and intense social media love for five years and counting.
Alternative Black Friday movements like REI’s encourage people to rethink the day’s siren call of consumption—and instead, opt in to time with family and loved ones, or cleaning up public lands such as national parks and state parks. So how can you take a pass on Black Friday spending? And what can you do year-round to embrace an anti-consumerism mindset?
Sure, you could get up early on Black Friday to rush the doors of a big box store. Or click your way to serious spending online. This year, take a pass on the whole experience and reimagine your Black Friday with these tips:
Mute the TV during commercial breaks. Recycle the Black Friday ads that arrive in the mail. Send salesy E-mails to spam. And stay away from the mall and online retailers over Thanksgiving weekend. If you don’t see the deals and avoid the temptation, you’re less likely to fall victim to overspending.
Take your inspiration from the growing #OptOutside movement and get back to nature. Take a hike, clean a park, or just enjoy the fresh air.
Plenty of people enjoy a work holiday or take off Black Friday. Take advantage of the day by planning some quality time with loved ones — particularly if they’re in town just for the long weekend.
If you’re ready to get festive, channel your energy away from shopping. Get the whole family involved in pulling the holiday decorations out of storage, stringing the lights, and getting the house ready for guests. Prepare to enjoy the magic of the season instead of the buying frenzy.
Keep the spirit of Thanksgiving going the next day. Take time on Black Friday to lend a hand to by volunteering at a local non-profit. Match your skills or interests and give your support by stocking a food pantry, spreading cheer at a nursing home, or giving some love to an animal shelter.
Flip this whole day around entirely. Spend the day creating a budget, reviewing your spending habits, or meeting with an investment professional. Just think about how much better you’d feel by contributing to your emergency savings or retirement account instead.
Black Friday is just one day. But the money mindset that feeds it — buy more and have more — trickles into our thinking every day. Want the high you get from ditching Black Friday spending to last longer? Embrace these strategies for wanting and buying less all year:
Create or find an inspirational phrase that speaks to you — one you can repeat as needed. Try these: “Only buy what you need.” “Just because I can buy this, it doesn’t mean I should.” “If I’m spending money I wouldn’t have spent otherwise, it’s not a great deal.”
Will Rogers famously said, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned to buy things they don’t want to impress people they don’t like.” Look deep and ask yourself why you really want to buy something. Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses? Or is it something you need or truly want?
Some people shop when they’re stressed. Or sad. Or bored. Others go wild when they step inside their favorite store. What’s your weakness? How does shopping “fix” those emotions? Explore those feelings and situations that lead to regretful spending. When you spot them in the future, you’ll be able to take proactive steps.
Once you know what emotions and situations are driving you to impulse spending, look for replacement activities that meet those needs. Shopping to de-stress? Try some financial self-care instead. Buying when you’re bored? Call up an old friend, take up a new hobby, or find inexpensive ways to stay healthy.
Could get you through the weekend with zero spending? What about a whole week? Set a no-spend goal for yourself that’s a bit of a stretch. Give yourself a (free!) reward when you hit that goal.
The massive popularity of the #OptOutside movement proves it. Millions of people want to ditch consumerism, avoid overspending, and live well without unnecessary debt. So band together with some of those like-minded people for support. Find a Meetup in your area, join an online community, or create a club that’s all your own.
When you find yourself believing that more is better, take a moment to embrace what you already have. And consider the charitable causes that touch your heart. With further reflection, you might choose to give that money or your time to an organization that supports those in need. Even better, you’ll feed your soul in a way that buying never can.
So this Black Friday, let’s try something different. Instead of swiping plastic, adding items to carts, and adding debt, join us in opting out of overspending and consumerism. And maybe with the right tools, you’ll carry that freeing mindset all the way through the year.
What can you do with the money you save by opting out of Black Friday and over-consumerism as a way of life? Consider putting your money to work for you by investing in a peer-to-peer lending marketplace, helping you diversify your portfolio and potentially earn competitive returns. (Consult with an investment pro before making any investment decisions.) And if you need a little help paying down debt from last year’s sales, we’re here to help you bridge the gap between where you are today and what you need to succeed.
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