* Jedd Thoughts, Intentional Living

When Saving Money Isn’t Saving Money

Black Friday
A simple Google image search for Black Friday gave me this

I use to love this time of year.

But over the past 5 years or so, the warm, joyous feelings of celebrating this season with family and friends, has slowly been invaded by consumerism, chaos, and comparison.

We need to be reminded that there was a time when Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and now pre-Black Friday (a.k.a. Thanksgiving Sales) didn’t exist. But the Black Friday craziness that exists today didn’t happen overnight, it took time. The weekend after Thanksgiving has traditionally been a long holiday weekend that was supposed to be a break for all (those working, going to school, etc…). Businesses and corporations (let’s call them The Execs) saw this as an excellent time to promote shopping. “Get all your presents now before Christmas.” The Execs knew though, that it would take a little bit of encouragement, some sort of bait to lure people to their stores, to give up time with family and friends.

Though post-Thanksgiving was already a profitable weekend, the Execs wanted more. They knew that all they had to do was to brand it, give it a name, make it an actual event. They called it Black Friday. They offered bigger discounts. They created a limited, too-good-to-be-true feast that people couldn’t resist.

We ate it up.

According to estimates, the Black Friday Weekend sales phenomenon will bring in an estimated $36 billion dollars this year alone. $36. Billion.

And the main message? “Save money.”

Spending Money is Not Saving MoneyI confess. I used to be a supporter of the Black Friday movement. I’ve waited in line for sales and deals. There was a time I actually believed that when I bought something on sale, I was saving money. It all changed when a friend challenged me with the following statement:

“Spending money, no matter how much money you are saving from a sale, is still spending money.”

More often than not, a sale makes us buy something we wouldn’t have bought otherwise. To truly save money, we have to refrain from spending on things we don’t really need.

Ironically, the most shocking and scary thing about Black Friday isn’t the obsessive and obscene amounts of money we are spending on stuff, but the damage and cost this sales event has on relationships.

We are creating and supporting a culture that says consumerism is more important than family and friends.

First, it started with the controversy of a few major stores opening on Thanksgiving day late at night, to ease anyone’s concerns. Each year, however, stores open earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving. This year, it’s big news as to which stores will be open and those that refuse to open on Thanksgiving. With issues like Ferguson, ebola, wars, etc… going on in our world, I’m still amazed how pervasive the Black Friday weekend is in the media.

One thing I would love to ask the Execs and supporters of Black Friday: Does this make our lives and our world better? But maybe the question more important is: What are we doing to make the world better?

Is saving money by spending money on sales really saving money? And more importantly, what is the true cost of excessive consumerism?


Regardless of how you choose to spend your time (or money) this weekend, we hope that you and your loved ones find time together and ways to reflect how much you value and cherish these special relationships.

Happy Thanksgiving.


Ps. This is an awesome video about all of that so-called important, must-have stuff.

* Michelle Thoughts, Videos

Advent Conspiracy

As Christmas approaches, we want to share these videos from adventconspiracy.org, which played an important role in changing our perspective on Christmas giving.  It’s about spending less but giving MORE.  More relationally, more meaningfully, more intentionally.  Here’s what Advent Conspiracy says:

“The story of Christ’s birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.

So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.

And when it’s all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?

What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?

Welcome to Advent Conspiracy.”

“Time is the real gift Christmas offers us, and no matter how hard we look, it can’t be found at the mall. Time to make a gift that turns into the next family heirloom. Time to write mom a letter. Time to take the kids sledding. Time to bake really good cookies and sing really bad Christmas carols. Time to make love visible through relational giving. Sounds a lot better than getting a sweater two sizes too big, right? Need a few ideas? Just click here and see what others have done to give more during the advent season.”