Before I get started, some financial advice from yours truly: if you find a good deal on something you’ve had your eye on, buy it! The key to financial freedom isn’t hoarding all of your money and never enjoying anything ever, it’s choosing to spend your money wisely. Getting something you’ve been saving for when it’s on sale is good money management. Just make sure you don’t go wild and start buying every sale item you see!
Personally, shopping all day isn’t my idea of a post-Thanksgiving good time. I don’t like crowds or the endless pressure to buy buy buy. I tend to stay away from retail spaces on Black Friday. But that doesn’t mean I want to sit inside all day doing nothing but digest turkey.
Enter: Green Friday. Green Friday is a response to relentless Black Friday consumerism. Companies have decided to encourage “green” activities and spending. This can take the form of REI’s #OptOutside campaign or simply encouraging people to shop locally. The idea behind Green Friday is to find ways to turn Black Friday into a day focused on self-improvement, quality time, and giving back.
I’ve always been majorly impressed by REI’s #OptOutside initiative. However, it can also get very rainy this time of year in the Pacific Northwest so the outdoors aren’t always an option. So I figured, if REI can encourage their customers to do something different with their black Friday, why not share my own ideas for alternative Black Friday activities too?
Black Green Friday, improve yourself and explore your world
In keeping with the spirit of Green Friday, I thought I would offer some free (or at least inexpensive) options for spending your Black Friday giving back, learning, and making the world a better place.
Write letters of thanks to soldiers and veterans
If you’d rather not spend your day camping outside of a big-box store to get a deal on a blender, you could keep the spirit of Thanksgiving going by writing letters to soldiers.
Operation Gratitude sends care packages full of necessities and letters to US military members all over the world. You’ll feel good, they’ll feel good, and your budget will feel good. That’s a win-win-win right there!
Do some autumn cleaning
Why wait for spring to do a deep clean? Rather than bringing in a bunch of new things you don’t need, clear out your space. Capitalize on your free time, and make Black Friday a day for cleaning, organizing, and donating things you don’t need anymore. Your house will feel fresher -- and you’ll feel good about clearing out space for the new year.
Donating things you’re no longer using also does good for your community! Many people are in need during the holiday season. Your donations will help keep people warm and dry during the coldest months. If that’s not in line with the spirit of Thanksgiving, I don’t know what is.
Volunteer your time
Did you know, according to a Carnegie Mellon study, volunteering is actually good for your mental and physical health?
Plenty of people volunteer on Thanksgiving, but what about the day after? Use a philanthropic search engine, like VolunteerMatch, or choose a local cause that’s dear to you and find opportunities to help out. You might even find that you love volunteering so much that you decide to keep it up all year.
Visit a museum
If you’re still looking to experience the hustle and bustle outside your front door, without breaking the bank, you could visit a museum on Black Friday. Many museums offer free entrance to encourage people to experience the arts. Even if your local museum doesn’t offer free entry, they may have discounted student or child pricing which could still make a trip to the museum a viable option.
Go to the movies
You don’t have to spend a ton of money to go to the movies. Matinee showings, child pricing, and student discounts are all easy options for a low-cost theater experience. Additionally, you could find a second-run movie theater, where tickets are often much cheaper, and catch a movie you missed. Be sure you don’t turn your thrifty trip into a serious moment of spending by avoiding the concessions stand. I’m not saying you should sneak snacks into the movie, but I will say that I once ate an entire burrito during a movie and it was pretty great.
Take a free personal finance course online
Utilize your long weekend by taking a self-paced online course. Even if you’re already a finance wizard, it can’t hurt to brush up on some skills. Websites like EdX can help match you up with free online classes from big-name universities. You can even chow down on some Thanksgiving leftovers while you fill your brain up with all kinds of good information. Plus, it’s never too early to get a head start on your New Year’s self-improvement resolutions.
Reflect on your holiday budget
I know, this one isn’t quite as heartwarming as the other options, but this is a personal finance blog so I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you about your budget! We’ve shared some ways to stay frugal this holiday season, and now it’s time to see how your budget practices have held up so far.
If you went a little overboard on the Thanksgiving spending, now is the time to reroute and keep your budget healthy for the rest of the season. Especially with any last minute Christmas gifts.
There you have it! If you’re in the mood for shopping and saving, and Black Friday fits within your budget, go shopping. If you would rather avoid the crowds or work on some self-improvement this Black Friday, you’ve got options to get out there and make the world a better place.
What are you planning on doing for your Black Friday? Is there anything else you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments!