Black Friday is upon us. And with it, a wave of promotional emails and adverts you can’t seem to escape. They all have one thing in common: they play on a very human trait: our good old fear of missing out. Of shortage. Of scarcity.
This is why it is so easy to follow the digital crowd and give into this seasonal shopping frenzy. Add to this our brains’ ability to come up with the most convoluted justifications for unnecessary purchases and you got yourself a recipe for a very broke year-end.
But here’s the good news. You don’t have to give into it. Not one bit. Better yet, you can use this time of year to review your priorities and remind yourself that things can’t buy you time. Unless it’s a time machine. But I haven’t come across one of those yet. So while we wait for the clever nerdy geniuses out there to indulge us, I thought we could play a little minimalist game together, in the spirit of busting Black Friday.
Game #1: Adventures in a minimalist mailbox.
I’m extremely picky about who I choose to hear from in my emails. I view my mailbox as a traditional letterbox, just in digital format. It is a place for letters or conversations, for work or for thought-provoking, idea-sparking inspiration. That’s why I’m very careful about not letting junk sneak in.
I certainly don’t need someone to try and create a need I don’t have. If I truly need something, I will research it in my own time if and when the need arises. Then I’ll take time to think about it. Will it truly add value to my life/work? Can I afford it at this point in time? If the answer is no, I pass.
Don’t get me wrong, I completely respect the fact that people have to sell their work or product. I know I do! But you can choose who you want to be influenced by. For me, these are people who have earned my respect and trust over time. People who consistently add value and have a greater purpose than just increasing their bottom line.
That’s right, your holy quest for less clutter and more value starts right in your mailbox.
How to play:
The rules are simple: any email you receive with any mention of a Black Friday special, or later on, any offer playing on your fear of missing out – unsubscribe. Be ruthless. Don’t look back and don’t even think for one second think this may come in handy “one day”. If someone wants to play with your human fear of scarcity, you don’t need their influence in your mailbox. In short? Cut the crap.
I unsubscribed from 7 lists this morning, and feel already lighter for it.
Game #2: Everything must go.
I don’t think many of us can say they have achieved their dream home. A lot of the time, we think “I just need one more chair here, a shelf there and a small ornament for the table, and, and, and…”. I used to keep a wish list on my phone of things I “needed” to buy for home. And doesn’t Black Friday seem like the perfect time to find some of the things you’re missing at a discounted price?
Here’s another way to look at it: how can you remove anything unessential first, before adding on? When I went through my decluttering journey, I found that my wish list became redundant. The more clutter I removed the freer I felt, and found that we actually had too much furniture and storage places. All of a sudden, money saved became money not spent at all.
So here’s a Black Friday twist on decluttering.
How to play:
- Pick one place you want to declutter: a drawer, a cupboard, a room, your desk, your car, your kitchen counter.
- Think of a discount number that would entice you to buy something on Black Friday: for example 70% off.
- Get rid of 70% of the items that are in the space you chose to declutter
- Repeat as needed
Bonus points if you donate or gift whatever you are getting rid of. This feeling of decluttering + doing some good will trump any post-bargain high. I haven’t yet come across someone who regretted getting rid of something unessential. I have however experienced buyer’s regret more than I’d like to admit.
Game #3: Trade Black Friday for white space.
As a creative person, white space is the best gift you can reward yourself with. Not only will seeking white space help set healthy boundaries and nourish yourself, but it is also a gateway to creativity. As a self-employed creative, I am very aware of the monetary value of my time, which is why I very often ask myself “how many hours worked will it take me to buy this?” and choose to reward myself with experiences or time off instead of things.
How to play:
- Figure out how much you earn per hour, or how much you think one hour of your time is worth. If you don’t know how to, here’s an easy formula: [Your monthly net pay / 21 (average number of days worked)] / 8 (average number of hours worked) = your hourly rate
- Think of how much you would spend on a sale or on non-essential items (clothes, house decor, furniture, electronics etc.)
- Divide that number by your hourly rate. This will give you the number of hours you can take to treat yourself to white space.
You have a choice. Always.
Most buyer’s remorse I’ve experienced in the past came from rushed, emotional decisions. And this doesn’t only apply to Black Friday. When you take a moment to stop and think about why you want to buy something and whether you truly need it, you’ll find that more often than not, you’re trying to fill an emotional void that can be satisfied with much simpler, longer lasting pleasures.
What’s your opinion of Black Friday? Tell me in the comments if you can relate or if I’m off on a tangeant!