As soon as we give thanks for all that we’ve been blessed with many of us run out immediately and spend a ton of money on a bunch of other things we didn’t need just a few hours ago in a Black Friday frenzy. Black Friday has bled into Thanksgiving and it’s time to take back Friday.
If you’re lucky enough to have the day after Thanksgiving off, aka Black Friday, I hope you take some time for yourself. This year, skip Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) and spend the day doing something constructive rather than consumerist. If you need some help with what to do besides shopping, I hope this list helps:
Black Friday Alternative #1
Netflix and Chill.
Binge watch some shows or movies you’ve been meaning to. Its been a hard year. We just all ate a bunch of food. Save your cash and enjoy some entertainment. Heck, you may even learn something. Here are some of my favorite binge worthy documentaries:
- Netflix: Minimalism: A Documentary on the Important Things
- The Moneyaires aren’t minimalists, but we do have a philosophy when it comes to stuff. This documentary really resonates with me and how less is really more. A really cool thing about this documentary – the growth of their following.
- Netflix: The Minimalists: Less is Now
- The follow up to Minimalism. A great quick watch that really drives home the idea that material possessions aren’t the end game.
- Netflix: Money Explained
- I thought this quick moving series was really great and I learned a thing or two.
- Amazon Prime: LuLaRich
- My disdain for MLMs runs deep. MLMs take well meaning eager people and just extort money from them. This documentary perfectly explains why.
- Hank: 5 Years From the Brink
- Mr. Moneyaire and I watched this together during a rare moment of calm in our home. We both walked away with a deeper respect for Hank Paulson and the Financial Crisis.
- Playing With Fire
- A documentary with appearances with several famous FIRE proponents. It documents a couple on their journey to Financial Independence and the ups and downs they face.
Black Friday Alternative #2
Get some reading in.
Spend the day reading. If you can, download the OverDrive or Libby App and borrow these books with your library card. I personally have a long backlog of books I plan on getting around to, some day. Here are a few books I have read that I recommend:
- A Simple Path to Wealth, JL Collins
- The author wrote this book for his daughter to guide her to save and invest.
- I Will Teach You To Be Rich, Ramit Sethi
- A no nonsense book on the steps you need to take to live a rich life. I love his chapter on automating saving and investing.
- Unconventional Success, David Swenson
- David Swenson ran Yale’s endowment and beat other managers time and again with his success. He goes through how ordinary investors should invest.
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyoaski
- A great read on how the traditional path to success doesn’t necessarily lead to wealth.
- The Millionaire Next Door, Thomas J. Stanley
- A great book on the profile of your typical American millionaire.
- Choose FI: Your Blueprint to Financial Independence, Brad Barrett, Chris Mamula, and Jonathan Mendonsa
- From the podcast credited with starting the Financial Independence movement, its a good read on how to get started on the path to becoming financially free.
- Check out these other wonderful blogs/websites on personal finance and financial independence that I visit often for ideas, advice and support.
Black Friday Alternative #3
Show your gratitude.
Write out thank you notes to people and send them out via snail mail. No note of gratitude is too small or too big. I have gotten really great feedback about the notes I send out to people who have shown me support and kindness. My recipients are really touched and I hope feel loved when they get something that isn’t a bill or junk mail in the mail.
Its important to send a physical card – try not to send an email or text. I love these thank you postcards. These postcards are from Bliss Collections, a small family business. **Bonus** – you can use the cheaper postcard stamps to send out your notes.
Black Friday Alternative #4
Calculate your net worth.
If you haven’t ever done this before, this can be a big task. Your net worth is a simple formula: Assets – Liabilities = Net Worth.
Tally up all of your assets: the money in your checking account, savings account, brokerage account, 401k, 403b, HSA, Roth IRA, your home’s value, your car’s value etc. An asset is anything you can sell for, or is, money. Add it all up.
Next, add up all your liabilities, or debts. Add up all your credit card debt, student loan debt, mortgage debt, business debt, any personal loan debt, your car loan debt etc. Add up everything you owe money for.
Then, take your total asset amount and subtract your liabilities from it.
Does it surprise you? Is it where you thought it would be? Higher or Lower? This exercise might be the best way to jump start your new year and build on your net worth. Which gets me to…
Black Friday Alternative #5
Open that account, set up that automated transfer.
If you’ve been meaning to set up a savings account, 529 Plan, brokerage or TreasuryDirect Account, today is the day. Sit down and get it done.
If you open a 529 Plan before the end of the year you still have plenty of time to contribute to it and potentially receive a tax benefit. The earlier you start putting money away, the better off your child will be when it comes time to go on to college. Already have a 529? Today’s a great day to add an additional contribution instead of going out to spend.
Right now you can get a Series I Savings Bond that will earn you 7.12% interest through April 2022. All you need to get started is to open a TreasuryDirect Account and link it to your bank account. If you have an emergency fund, moving some of that money to these bonds could be a savvy move.
If you don’t think you have enough money to start investing? Think again. If you have $10 you can start investing.
Black Friday is also a great day to start automatic transfers from your checking account to your savings, 529 plan, brokerage account or wherever you want to direct money for investments or savings. If you already have that going, consider increasing the amount of the transfer.
Most of all, enjoy the holiday.
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and I look forward to it every fall. This year I hope that you spend the holiday with the people you love, eating well and taking sometime for yourself.