Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone and I’ll tell you what: I am $300 poorer for it. I’ll tell you something else: I’M NOT SORRY!
The horror. Oh, the horror!
I know that as a pf blogger I am supposed to shun these ‘spending holidays’ (sidenote: probably the worst phrase ever.) I know that the best way to save money is to not spend it. I know that Americans have a rather disgusting relationship with Black Friday- riots, fights, absurd amounts of money spent in mere minutes.
I actually don’t think I’ve ever participated in Black Friday before. Certainly I’ve never gone to stores during it and I’m pretty sure I’ve never bought anything online either. So why did I do it this year?
There’s a simple enough answer: I have no clothes. And while yes, that’s hyperbole, it’s not much of one.
I have never been a big shopper. Just not my thing. I wear what’s comfortable and generally in style. I’m a jeans and t-shirt kind of girl. Or yoga pants and sweatshirts. I have one maxi dress. I have one pair of boots, one pair of flats, one pair of slip flops and a pair of sneakers.
This year I have been on a quest to upgrade my wardrobe. I’ve needed professional clothes all damn year. I did a huge closet purge in summer 2014 and then put myself on a clothing ban in January 2015. I basically got rid of a lot of clothing, failed to replace or upgrade it and have been struggling to put together outfits since.
I always want to save as much as possible so thrifting seemed like the obvious option. However, thrifting is a pretty time consuming activity. You have to sort through a ton of clothes, try everything on, and make a judgement call- is this of high enough quality to last awhile, or too worn to be worth it? I know people talk all the time about scoring incredible brand names at thrift stores for $.75 but that’s never happened to me. I see a lot of Target stuff and graphic t-shirts at my local Goodwill stores.
For me it became a question of time and energy versus money. I could continue driving all over town visiting different thrift stores every few week, spend an hour or two sifting through and trying on clothes and maybe walk away with something.
Or I could hop on those Black Friday sales. I chose the latter.
Remember, this is after months of thrift shopping. This is not a willy-nilly decision I made, blinded by the 50% off and free shipping allure of Black Friday. I’ve visited almost every Goodwill in Austin and I’ve found four items total: three shirts (two of which are summer shirts and useless right now) and one pair of white jeans (that, admittedly, I freaking LOVE).
I was losing time to thrifting and right now, my time is more valuable than that. I’m busier than ever right now and I just can’t spare the time needed to bargain hunt. So when Black Friday came around, I was ready. I did my research. I made of list of what I actually needed. I comparison shopped online. I stacked coupons.
I bought four pairs of work pants, two dresses, two shirts, two bathing suit tops and a bathing suit bottom online last Friday. Everything was at least 40% off and I got free shipping on it all. It took me less than 10 minutes to place the orders and probably around 3 hours to do all the comparison shopping. Game over.
Now, they haven’t all come in yet but I am already so happy with it all. It’s done. I ordered things I can pair with stuff I already own, things that will serve as complete outfits and things that I needed. (I don’t own a bathing suit right now.) What’s more, I ordered four pairs of pants but only intend to keep two. I ordered from a store new to me and wasn’t sure of the sizing. That means I’ll be getting back around $60 when I use the free return option.
Now I still don’t have a lot of clothes but at least I won’t be embarrassed to go to a work holiday party in my old jeans and one nice top. I don’t shop for pleasure but rather for use. Black Friday helped me achieve that. For me, that $300 was well spent.
Kara Perez is the original founder of From Frugal To Free. She is a money expert, speaker and founder of Bravely Go, a feminist financial education company. Her work has been featured on NPR, Business Insider, Forbes, and Elite Daily.