Friday, November 26, 2010

Can this consumer be saved?

It is 1:02pm on Black Friday, and I'm still at home.  Just got out of the shower, in fact.  Spent the morning in my flannel pjs, looking through Black Friday ads and making notes on my Christmas planner.  But I didn't go to any stores, didn't shop online, didn't do my part for the American economy.  I guess the terrorists have won.

I don't do Black Friday.  I actually never shopped for Christmas presents on the day after Thanksgiving until my first Thanksgiving as a daughter-in-law (1994).  I spent that day holding coats and shopping bags while my mother-in-law and her sister demonstrated how super-shoppers get it done.  A few hours with them and I was exhausted beyond description.

Why I'd never Christmas shopped on that day is pretty simple:  I never had any money until the Christmas bonus showed up, usually around 12/15 or thereabouts.  No matter what my job, I never managed to juggle the paychecks and bills until mid-December, and then I just shopped with what cash I had and was done.  No long-term planning or budgeting involved in those days.

Once, several years after my first Black Friday experience, one of my children desperately needed something that necessitated my standing in line at 5 in the morning to get in ToysRUs for a Black Friday bargain that couldn't possibly be repeated in the month remaining before Christmas.  Yes, I actually got the inflatable bouncy tent, which (amazingly) appeared in sale ads that whole month for less than I paid that day that I slept standing up in public.  

Not only that, but the darn thing sprung a leak roughly 5 minutes after the girls started jumping in it.  And didn't my husband think that was hilarious, since he'd stayed up until 3am blowing the stupid thing up.

So you might say that experience cured me of shopping on Black Friday.  It also helps that I'm not that fond of shopping in the first place, so I feel no need to venture out in my amateur fashion and attempt to compete with the shopping experts to find the one and only $229 I-Touch with bonus $15 gift card left in South Bend.  Let the scavengers have it.

When it comes to shopping for groceries, however, I'm in a league of my own.  I challenge anyone to a grocery bill showdown - anytime, anywhere.  I'm reasonably certain I pay less for my butter than my neighbors do, and I'm damn proud of it.  But when it comes to electronics, toys, clothes, stuff for guys - you know, useless stuff - I don't care enough to get very competitive.  At least not on the morning after Thanksgiving, when USA Today alleges I ate upwards of 3,500 calories before I served dessert(s).

No, I just don't need anything that badly.  In fact, yesterday reminds me that I really don't need anything at all.  My children and husband are healthy, my mother-in-law is on the mend, and my family back in Alabama are all well.  I have a lovely home, a working furnace, dependable transportation, my husband has a good employer, we have clean water to drink and air to breathe and I'm protected by the world's greatest military and the world's best constitutional government.  I have great friends, nearby and far away, and I like myself enough to enjoy being alone.

Like I said, I really don't need anything at all.  And I get the satisfaction of feeling like I outsmarted the fake-holiday marketeers who tried to manipulate me to get my full belly and fat butt out of bed ridiculously early to buy stuff for people who also don't need much at all.  

It's almost kickoff time, I had popcorn for lunch, just popped an Amber Bock and I haven't spent a dime today.  I'm a thankful little Frugal Hoosier War Eagle right now.

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