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This Black Friday, be a financially smart consumer and reap real rewards


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It’s officially Black Friday this week on November 24 and consumers are lining up at their favorite stores looking to get some big bargains as the holiday shopping seasons officially kicks off. The air is filled with excitement, joy and the undeniable urge to splurge. 

The pressure to fill those shopping carts with the perfect gifts, host extravagant gatherings, and create Instagram-worthy celebrations often leads many to overspend, only to be met with financial stress come January. However, there is a growing movement that encourages a more mindful approach to holiday spending—one that emphasizes meaningful experiences over material excess.

In a consumer-driven society, it’s easy to succumb to the allure of flashy advertisements and enticing discounts. The pressure to keep up with societal expectations can drive individuals and families to stretch their budgets to the limit, often resulting in the accumulation of debt and long-term financial consequences. But what if we shifted our focus from material abundance to the true essence of the holidays: connection, gratitude and shared experiences? Afterall, that’s what the season is really all about. 

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The most compelling reason to resist the temptation to overspend during the holidays is the long-lasting effects on personal finances. Many people succumb to the pressure of buying expensive gifts or hosting elaborate gatherings, only to find themselves buried under a mountain of debt come January. 

Remember, when the credit card statement shows up in January, and you can’t pay it all off, those interest charges can very well set up back months if not years. You’ll be filled with regret and kicking yourself for not having played things differently. 

The New Year is supposed to be a fresh start, but that’s not possible if you are still carrying the burden of last year’s holiday shopping splurge. 

BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING SHOCKER: 35% OF ITEMS WILL OFFER NO SAVINGS VS. PRE-BLACK FRIDAY PRICES

One way to avoid this is to communicate openly with your friends and loved ones. Don’t be afraid to let people know that this year you want to go light when it comes to exchanging gifts. People will appreciate your honesty, and chances are, they might be feeling the same exact way. Besides, true happiness comes from genuine connections, not from the price tag on a gift. 

The New Year is supposed to be a fresh start, but that’s not possible if you are still carrying the burden of last year’s holiday shopping splurge. 

Practicing mindful spending during the holidays does not mean sacrificing joy or celebration. Instead, it invites us to redefine the meaning of a truly fulfilling holiday season – one that prioritizes connection, gratitude, and good financial choices. By setting a budget, planning ahead, and focusing on experiences rather than material possessions, we can create a holiday season that is not only financially responsible but also emotionally enriching.

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Another important reason to reconsider overspending this Black Friday and during the holidays is the impact on mental well-being. Financial stress has been linked to increased anxiety and decreased overall happiness. By setting realistic expectations and embracing a more modest approach to gift-giving, we can alleviate the burden of debt and foster a healthier mindset for ourselves and our loved ones.

woman shopping in store

Customers visit a Macy’s store during Black Friday sales on November 25, 2022, in Jersey City, New Jersey.  (Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

Moreover, the pursuit of happiness through material possessions is often short-lived. Research consistently shows that experiences bring more lasting joy than material goods. Instead of splurging on extravagant gifts that may lose their appeal over time, consider investing in experiences that create lasting memories. Whether it’s a weekend getaway, a cooking class, or a family game night. these shared moments have the power to strengthen bonds and create a sense of fulfillment that goes beyond the transient pleasure of material possessions.

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Finally, remember, the allure of overspending during the holiday season may be strong, and retailers do a great job of tempting holiday shoppers, even when money is tight. However, the rewards of embracing a more mindful, financially savvy approach are even greater. By prioritizing experiences over possessions, setting realistic budgets, and making smart decisions, we can create a holiday season that resonates with the true spirit of joy, gratitude, and meaningful connections. 

It’s time to shift our focus from the pressure of excess consumption of material goods to the richness of shared experiences and time together – making this holiday season truly special for ourselves and those we cherish. 

Personal finance advocate Kim Scouller is co-author with Sharon Lechter, of the book “How Money Works for Women.”



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