The 100% Off Black Friday Sale

steelyardThe season of magic is upon us.

Right around now, most consumers are laying plans to intensify their spending frenzy for the final month of the year. After all, what better way to celebrate the holidays and the accompanying temporary freedom from work, with additional financial bondage to that very job?

Since you and I generally don’t participate in the games of the retail industry, I thought we could celebrate US Thanksgiving and its spendy neighbor Black Friday in a different way: by renewing our vows to lead a more meaningful, vigorous, innovative, and generally awesome life. Badass Friday is what we could call it, and it should be an annual tradition.

Gifts and Traditions

Around this time of year, I start getting emails from thoughtful readers with questions about the holidays: “What does the MMM family do about the Christmas gift exchange tradition? What about birthdays and other holidays?”

The answer to this one is just what you’d expect from Mr. Money Mustache: We skip the whole retail aspect of it entirely. In the wise words of Grandpa Money Mustache: “A Simpler Christmas is a Grander Christmas“, and you can read more about it in the holiday MMM Classic entitled Happy Buy Nothing Day.

Little MM tends to make his own gifts for giving: these handy notebooks for his parents were big hits.

Little MM tends to make his own gifts for giving: these handy notebooks for his parents were big hits.

In our old age, we’ve become much more interested in using surplus cash to help others. We have committed not to inflate our own lifestyle beyond its already-cozy level, and also believe in letting our son earn his own way to financial independence when he grows up, rather than leaving a large estate. This should leave several million dollars free throughout our lifetimes to do other things, and I basically follow the ideals of the Gates Foundation* when it comes to efficient charity. Other favorites include Charity Navigator, DonorsChoose.org, and GiveWell.org.

But we’re still big on tradition in our family. Not the traditions prescribed in ancient texts and scrolls, but generally sillier ones we invent ourselves and carry on just because they are fun.

Every Friday, the arrival of the weekend is celebrated with Family Movie Night. Every meal, even breakfast, is served by candlelight. And self-imposed blackouts are frequent: besides our our ongoing freedom from TV (a tradition which started in 1999), we also have a weekly No Computer Day, and even occasional No Electricity Nights. That last one came about two years ago, when I received a power failure for my birthday and we all enjoyed it:

Mr. Money Mustache Receives the Gift of Hardship for his Birthday

Preparation for a New Season

For the roughly 60% of MMM readers who live in Northern climates, winter means cooler weather and a time when those of weak constitution turn to automobile travel and indoor recreation. Not the Mustachians: we simply brush up on our winter survival skills and apply them with renewed gusto:

How to Ride your Bike All Winter – and Love it

MMM Challenge: Try Getting your Groceries with a Bike Trailer

First Understand, Then Destroy, Your Home Heating Bill

The Oil Well You Can Keep in Your Pants

So Happy Thanksgiving to all, when we will give thanks for all the good things that we have, and equal thanks to all the unnecessary ones we don’t crave.


*The Gates Foundation: The ruthlessly efficient businessman applies infinite wealth and intellect towards the problem of saving the world. In a nutshell: our biggest problem is too many humans, because of the famines, wars, and environmental problems that happen when you greatly exceed the productive capacity of the planet. Solve this, and all the other problems start to solve themselves. The solution is to give us the strength to reproduce less. Most of the population growth currently comes from the poorest countries. But quite counter-intuitively, the way to reduce the birth rate in these countries is to improve health, prosperity, and education. See the amazing (and short) video called “The River of Myths” for why this works.

  • Zamboni November 28, 2013, 4:56 pm

    Another fine article, MMM! We’re celebrating black Friday by going to a free local college sporting event with a 3pm start time. We invited little Zamboni’s friends and teammates from our rec league endeavor.

    • Free Money Minute November 28, 2013, 7:20 pm

      I agree Zamboni, more MMM nuggets to use in our everyday lives. The no electricity day sounds like a great way to save some money and focus on what is really important….the people around you. Happy Thanksgiving all. Take some time to reflect on all you have to be thankful for.

      • Patrick November 29, 2013, 10:04 am

        What about the food in your fridge? And what would you cook with? Or is it just a “no TV/lights”?

      • papa t January 2, 2014, 5:55 pm

        I spent my thanksgiving watching Food Inc!

        And re-reading parts of The Jungle.

  • Justin November 28, 2013, 5:12 pm

    I think we will be shopping the 100% off Black Friday sale tomorrow. I started flipping through the Black Friday circulars inserted into my free Wednesday newspaper. About 3 minutes into ogling the sub-$300 laptops on the front page, I figured out I don’t need any of the stuff I was looking at, so it was pointless to waste any more time “shopping” the Black Friday sales papers.

    I read a book for a couple of hours instead. An activity I love and don’t have a chance to engage in often enough.

    • Frugal in DC November 28, 2013, 6:33 pm

      I feel the same way. I’ve never shopped on Black Friday. Even if they were giving stuff away, I wouldn’t go anywhere near crazed shoppers.

      This morning I saw a fence barricade and people camping in sub-freezing weather outside a big box store. I checked a few pages of the store circular online out of curiosity and figured I had not need for their “deals.” During my own 100% off sale I will polish off Ken Follett’s latest massive (and excellent) tome, cook a delicious dinner, and do a 1,000 calorie Fitness Blender workout – see http://www.fitnessblender.com/v/full-length-workouts/?str=1000+calorie .

      • Andy November 29, 2013, 11:22 am

        Black Friday hasn’t really caught on at the shops over in the UK (as far as I’m aware anyway!). But people go mad for the new year sales (which actually start on boxing day… Go figure).

        I also give these events an extremely wide berth. Can’t imagine anything worse than being caught in the middle of a crazed bunch of consumers!

        • Kenoryn November 30, 2013, 11:54 am

          Here in Canada Boxing Day is still the big crazed-shopper event. Unfortunately, Black Friday hype from the States is starting to trickle up north.

    • Fabio Fernandes November 29, 2013, 12:17 pm

      Same here. I was looking at Amazon’s Black Friday emails and browsing gadgets (sound systems, headphones) and then I realized I don’t really need any of that. So I also had a 100% Black Friday :)

  • Trevor November 28, 2013, 5:16 pm

    Well said, enjoyed reading this posting. Wish the MMM family all the best for Thanksgiving from Ottawa.

  • Brotherbryan November 28, 2013, 5:22 pm

    Will not be spending a dime tomorrow, other than to pay for the campsite in the Florida keys where my sweetie and I are spending the holiday and weekend. Work paid for the flight for a meeting right before so we extended the stay and are camping oceanside, eating home cooked meals from staples we purchased, and reading books, taking naps, rolling in the hay, and loving life. Work will fly me back on Sunday – post-shopping zombie apocalypse. I did splurge on some top of the line microbrews.

    BTW, I loved the “oil well in your pants” posting when it originally came out and it often comes to mind in cold Michigan.

    Thanks for you continued light (well candle) in the dark.


    • Mr. Money Mustache November 28, 2013, 5:35 pm

      Man! Camping on a tropical beach is an ideal way to spend Thanksgiving – well played. Last year at this time, I was 10 days into the Hawaii project, which was great fun as well. This year, it is a nice change to keep it local.

      • Aaron November 29, 2013, 1:33 am

        OMG, has it been a full year already? I guess it has. Started reading this blog shortly before that. I guess around this time I was shopping around for refinance rates thanks to reading on this blog. I had been meaning to do it for awhile, and the advice here was just what I needed to take the plunge.

        A little before that I had also lost my side gig job that earned me an extra $14k-18k a year. You’d think that with earning significantly less than I did before I’d be struggling. Nope, have had more money available thanks to cutting so much excess out of my life. Far less stressed too, and have some solid plans in place now. Only regret is that I didn’t wise up when I had the extra cash flow. Oh well, now I know better and any future opportunities will be better utilized.

        Happy Thanksgiving MMM community! Lots to be thankful for over this past year.

  • Alicia November 28, 2013, 5:26 pm

    The thing I find so odd is that Canada, a country that celebrated Thanksgiving over a month and a half ago, has now jumped on the Black Friday bandwagon. Stores open at 7am, “crazy” deals abound. Makes me scratch my head. I will not be partaking.

    • pixelum November 28, 2013, 5:59 pm

      The “bad” influence from down below the 45th parallel is indeed worrisome at times. But hey, from the point of view of the stores, it’s just another way to squeeze more $$$ out of the sukkas of this country.

      • Amber May 7, 2014, 9:58 am

        Hey! I live on the 46th parallel AND in the US! But I’m a Yooper, so that’s basically Canadian, right? ;)

    • Chris November 28, 2013, 8:02 pm

      7AM would be nice. Our stores open up about 7pm on Thursday and will stay open throughout Friday.

      • Maria November 30, 2013, 11:06 am

        Same here, and I hate it. Some friends said that the Walmart parking lot was so packed on Thanksgiving night (6-7 pm) that newcomers were circling the lots for empty spaces. Then, when I drove by to rubberneck at the Black Friday mayhem on my way to work on Friday around 8 am, the lots were pretty empty. Lame!

      • Maria November 30, 2013, 11:12 am

        My subconscious must finally be turning Mustachian as well. I went in to work on Friday for a while. I hadn’t planned on shopping at all, and as it turns out, I’d left my purse at home!

  • Miss Growing Green November 28, 2013, 5:52 pm

    Great ideas! We don’t plan on spending/buying anything during the Black Friday craziness. Can you believe that every year people are *killed* because of these crazy sales?! Wasn’t it just last year that someone was trampled to death… I think it’s a huge red flag if you start trampling old ladies to get your shopping fix ;)

  • Taryl November 28, 2013, 6:02 pm

    As much as I admire Bill Gate’s efforts. I heard an interview with him wherein the interviewer told Bill that a lot of his money ended up in the hands of politicians before pennies filtered down to the needy. He was totally oblivious to this common fact that happens constantly with our governmental handouts. I want followup and accountability.

    • HealthyWealthyExpat November 29, 2013, 1:08 am

      I concur. While Gates surely has the best of intentions, and his projects have certainly had a positive impact on the world, we must be careful when allocating our gifts to the needy. After spending some time working in international development, I have seen plenty of misallocation of funds. I prefer the “local and under my sphere of influence” philosophy. Our family looks for ways that we can give/help on a local level, where we know the funds will be used appropriately. We do sometimes also help on an international level, but only through recognized organizations with a history of successful projects and transparency in use of funds.

      • Phil December 2, 2013, 7:13 am

        Read “Banker to the Poor” by Mohammed Yunnus, the story of the founder of the Grameen bank, micro-financing, and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Then give internationally to provide people with the capital to allow themselves to use mustachian principles to bring themselves out of poverty.

      • Sandy December 3, 2013, 8:45 am

        We, also, prefer the “local and under my sphere of influence” philosophy as well. We have recently purged our home of at least half of our possessions. But instead of selling everything piece meal on Craig’s List or having a garage sale (and having to sometimes deal with real jerks) we preferred to take our donations to local charities with the Habitat Re-Store being our favorite for furniture and building materials. Although there is a terrible glut of adult clothing everywhere, all other donations are down because of Craig’s List so we feel that we are filling a void.

    • Mr pop November 29, 2013, 8:30 am

      Sounds like a great interview, please post the link.

      -Mr pop

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 29, 2013, 9:40 am

      Taryl – I’d like to see that interview, because from what I’ve found, Bill Gates isn’t oblivious to much of anything – the man is a sponge for information and data.

      This is why his foundation is so appealing to me as an engineer – it is very interested in measurement and analysis, to make sure the money is not being wasted.

      Sure, there will always be some leakage when dealing with a problem as complex as humans, but the non-political nature of this nerd-driven fund makes it more efficient than most governments can be.

      Local giving is great and very rewarding too. But I personally look at that as my “luxury giving” – the kind where I get to see the results immediately and the recipients actually thank me. The Ecuador house rebuilding and donating to my son’s school are examples of this.

      I think it’s nice to develop the strength to do non-luxury giving as well – stuff you can’t actually see but you know makes a difference. Offsetting your own carbon emissions through Terrapass or CarbonFund.org, or donating to help in countries you will never visit yourself, are examples of this.

      • mariarose December 30, 2013, 6:19 pm

        I feel that way about Heifer International. That is the one that has pushed my button.

    • Herr Handlebar November 29, 2013, 3:48 pm

      Taryl, I would be very interested in a link to that interview as well. I worked in non-profit before transitioning to software engineering. I have more than a passing familiarity with the foundation having co-authored a grant proposal for a digital divide transcending program in the United States. While their work in global health and development is very different than education in the United States your statements run contrary to my understanding of the organization. I believe they are aware of whatever inefficiencies exist in their work with developing nations and in regions with widespread corruption issues.

  • WorkedHardSavedWellRetiredEarly November 28, 2013, 6:08 pm

    We lost many of our possessions in the recent Boulder-area floods, so I am taking advantage of some of the “Black Friday” sales to get some replacement items. Normally I wouldn’t bother with Black Friday, but this year I am. Not doing the midnight or 6 AM door rushing thing — not my style — but I will go later in the day to pick up a few items, and I have already taken advantage of some of the advance sales. Since these are things that are actually needed (trust me, there has been alot of soul-searching about what is “needed”), why not take advantage of getting them at a sale price?

    • CincyCat December 1, 2013, 5:24 pm

      I think that makes perfect sense! Why not take advantage of lower prices if it is something you truly need? I have shopped Black Friday sales in the past to replace worn out linens, but have recently discovered that many retailers have white sales in January with better prices. Just a tip! Wait until January (if you are able) for sales on sheets & towels.

    • Fitstash December 2, 2013, 10:33 am

      I actually did the same thing to replace some things that got destroyed when my apartment burned down earlier this year.

  • Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple November 28, 2013, 6:12 pm

    I don’t shop on Black Friday. I am meeting a former coworker for lunch. She’s coming to my house and we’re having leftovers! Great minds think alike.

  • Joe November 28, 2013, 6:13 pm

    We don’t have any plan for Friday except to go to the gym.
    Yeah… I joined a gym. They have a childcare center so I can leave the kid there and get a work out in.
    Not quite free, but it’s the cheapest childcare around…
    Have a great Thanksgiving!

    • Holly November 29, 2013, 7:24 am

      I’m about to do the same thing, Joe…..just for the winter. The gym nearby lets people sign up month-to-month for $29. Well worth it, I think, for a hour of babysitting and a good workout every few days.

  • writing2reality November 28, 2013, 7:46 pm

    As with yourself, the thought of waking up and spending all sorts of cash on needless items seems foolish. I’ll be waking up early tomorrow, getting in a run in the nice brisk weather, then doing some reading and writing. Will be nice to enjoy the peace and quiet without work obligations.

    • Ross November 28, 2013, 10:11 pm

      I’m going to be getting a cold weather run in tomorrow morning as well instead of crazy shopping. I tried to use the newspaper doorbuster ads as kindling in a fire today until some relatives protested. I forgot that other people actually are sucked in by the ridiculous advertising.

  • Chris November 28, 2013, 7:59 pm

    The only two things I will be doing shopping wise is hitting up Pep Boys for a DIY oil change tbsts dirt cheap and maybe the salvation army for some opportunity for eBay re-selling. Otherwise, we already have almost everything we want!

  • Joe (yolfer) November 28, 2013, 8:44 pm

    “professional BOOK #1” is so awesome!!

  • jet November 28, 2013, 9:42 pm

    I love the ‘no electricity night’ idea… of course no turning off the fridge but to turn off everything else electrical would be quite cool… just got to figure out how to stop the dogs from knocking over the candles…

    • Kenoryn November 30, 2013, 12:52 pm

      Wall sconces are what you need!

  • Jeremy November 28, 2013, 10:13 pm

    Happy Thanksgiving to the MMM household and all Mustachians around the globe

    We had a grand potluck Thanksgiving dinner here in Mexico. Surrounded by friends and family and a complete lack of consumer spending opportunities, it is easy to feel grateful

  • Anthony November 28, 2013, 10:14 pm

    Nice article MMM. I personally wont be spending a dime. But my spendy other half has decided that she will be although not too much. I asked her earlier tonight if the stuff she bought actully made her happy , she couldn’t really answer! I’ve still got a while to go until I can convince her!

    Any one seen those crazy guys who have been camping outside the big box stores since Sunday. Even if the stuff were free I wouldn’t be doing that especially in the 20F weather here in Wisconsin.

  • Tallgirl1203 November 28, 2013, 10:31 pm

    Tonight we drove home from a lovely dinner with friends, past two big box stores with full parking lots and sales in full swing. I feel bad for all of the employees who were pulled away from home to work.
    I wonder how many of them were missing dinners with their children and other loved ones, just so the corporate powers could continue to rake in money for things people don’t need at prices they can’t resist.

  • Karl November 29, 2013, 12:18 am

    Haha. America. What an amazing place. I need to visit some time just to see this insanity. Unfortunately Australia seems hell bent on doing down the same broken path too though..

  • HealthyWealthyExpat November 29, 2013, 1:01 am

    Thanks for the fantastic Christmas gift idea, MMM! While I was reading this post in my favourite armchair on this Friday morning (no shopping planned for today), my 7 year-old daughter just happened to ask what I wanted her to buy me for Christmas. I smugly looked over at her and said “nothing, but you could make me something, like maybe a book.”;-) She looked at me very perplexed and asked, “What if you don’t like it?” I assured her that I was sure to like it, and then pointed out that if I didn’t like something she bought me, then she would have wasted her money as well. That gave her something to think about!

  • laura November 29, 2013, 1:57 am

    this is great-I LOVE to hear about great ways to save whether it’s time, money or relationships –no tv or internet forces people to interact with each other, we’ve been 99% tv free since 2000 and watch a total of 3-4 hours a week together as a family on movie night and streamed cartoon saturday mornings

  • BeatTheSeasons November 29, 2013, 2:08 am

    Why 8740? That can’t be how many articles you’ve written?!

  • Mrs PoP November 29, 2013, 5:23 am

    We generally use Black Friday as an opportunity to buy “Buy it for life” items – very high quality items that rarely go on deep sale, or sale at all. But there’s almost never competition for these items (they’re not the doorbusters that people fight over), so I wander out to the shopping centers late Friday or Saturday and pick up whatever we’ve had our eye on for the last couple of years.

    I do hope that MMM is taking advantage of Amex’s Small Business Saturday tomorrow, however. It’s a great opportunity to have a big corporation help out the little guys by also providing $10 worth of merchandise to everyone who registers and participates. I’ll be hitting up my local running shop and getting some nice socks!

    • Jennifer November 29, 2013, 5:19 pm

      I appreciate AmEx’s Small Business Saturday promotion… my husband is a small business employee as a trades craftsman (him, his Dad the owner, and one other employee). But their business stopped taking AmEx because they don’t pay regularly or on time, and charge higher fees than other credit card companies. It wasn’t worth it- even though many of their customers use AmEx. It would be great if AmEx fully supported small businesses in their pay schedules, not just promotion.

      • CincyCat December 1, 2013, 5:28 pm

        Ugh – yes, I have to agree. AmEx has the highest merchant fees of all the major carriers. We didn’t take AmEx when I worked at a small university conference center in a former life. I think this might be because such a high percentage of their customers pays their balances in full each month, thereby reducing the interest income AmEx is able to glean, so they sock it to the merchants instead?

  • Rob November 29, 2013, 5:31 am

    I adore homemade gifts, still have some I got years ago! For my sister in law she uses Christmas birthdays to get the kids practical gifts for the grandkids ( winter clothes stuff like thst)

    For my wife and I for some reason never got into giving gifts to each other.

  • bdonney November 29, 2013, 6:25 am

    I’ve never went shopping on black Friday. besides spending money, the crowds and traffic was something i was never interested in joining in on. I was forced to work on one. Opened for Best Buy years ago. luckily i was geek squad so I didn’t get the brunt of the insanity other workers did. Some people enjoy and look forward to black Friday, i wonder if these are generally the same people that enjoy self mutilation? For the past decade people have asked what I want for Christmas and i usually say something like a Hug or a beer, I don’t really need anything. People get upset at me for not having an xmas list. In our family it’s become customary to be very specific on what you want. I always liked buying people small items like a bag of specialty coffee from a local roaster. Not sure how I would get out of the tradition without upsetting people and coming off cheap. I’ve got student loans and wedding who’s budget is blowing up coming up in a couple months. (I don’t really have a wedding budget, its more keep it as low as we can while inviting whoever we want, but $700 on flowers seems excessive, I put my foot down on that one.)

    • lindsey November 29, 2013, 2:25 pm

      My default answer when asked what I want is toilet paper (except for my friend who makes awesome cookies…I always want her cookies). I can ALWAYS make good use of t.p. And it has the added advantage of making the person laugh.

  • Lee November 29, 2013, 7:33 am

    I just woke up from a luxurious night of sleep, since I wasn’t at the mall last night, to find our more than doubled mortgage payment came out of our account today. To think that just 6 months ago we were essentially living paycheck to paycheck! I am so happy a friend pointed me to your site.

    I never shopped on Black Friday but I now I never really shop at all (extended family is on board for no presents this year) and I get the same thrill most people get from shopping by watching my net worth grow.

  • Mike Parrott November 29, 2013, 8:13 am

    The quotes in the NYT are ridiculous today, look at this!

    “Thanksgiving dinner is over,” said Becky Solari, 18, standing on line with a friend at the Schaumburg mall. “And there’s nothing else to do.”

    Retailers had been banking on that sentiment — and possibly younger shoppers bored with family dinners — as many expanded hours on the holiday

    “To be honest, it’s more of a tradition than anything else because my family, we don’t do much for Thanksgiving,” said Stephen Chea, 24. “So, my friend’s family and I would always line up the day before or early in the morning and they would actually bring the turkey … we’d eat it in line.”

    Jeff J. Jones II, chief marketing officer for Target, said one of its stores in Columbus, Ohio, looked as though “the local schools had bused in teenager, there were so many teens out shopping together.”

    “My TV from last year is in beautiful, perfect condition, but this one is bigger and better,” said Ruben Calderon, an annual Black Friday shopper who planned to buy a 50-inch LED TV and some Xbox games at the Schaumburg Target on Thursday.

    • lindsey November 29, 2013, 2:35 pm

      I would be ashamed if I’d spawned a child as thoughtless as this 18 year old.

  • Lil November 29, 2013, 8:43 am

    Thrift stores have better deals than Black Friday deals. I spent $8 the other month on a 12″ bike for my toddler. I had looked everywhere, retail store $75, craigslist $35 (people are stingy over here)…, probably black friday the same… But for 8 bucks!!! it’s the best ever. Hubby just gave it a tune-up. Chain looked new. Tires are really worn, but my toddler is not going to go down switch-backs anytime soon. For probably a year or 2 of use. It’s the best! And she loves it!

    I will spend money on a small live tree though. That’s my one luxury item for Christmas. :)

  • bobbwerner November 29, 2013, 9:00 am

    River rats need kayaks here in Missouri, the number one camping and hiking state in the us. I therefore bought 2 very nice 10 foot vipers with paddles for 150 each at menards. This is far cheaper than a used one on craigs list. Ill use these for 20 days a year for 3 years then sell them for 175. So im using black Friday to improve my lifestyle for basically free.

  • Ms. Must-Stash November 29, 2013, 9:22 am

    I became a reader almost exactly a year ago and this blog has been a huge source of inspiration and encouragement! I wanted to stop and say thank you not only to MMM but also to this inspiring group of readers & commenters. In this past year we have done a bunch of little things – from attic insulation (DIY!) to low-flow showerhead, and are also making progress on some bigger things (owning rental property and more regular bike riding). A year of learning and growth for sure.

    AND – to celebrate Black Friday, we are spending today constructing our three year old’s Christmas present – a totally awesome “stair slide.” According to the internet, Charles Darwin built something similar for his kids: http://www.englishheritageprints.com/stair-slide-made-by-darwin-for-his-children-n080595/print/1459197.html

    We know that she will love it and we love making her something fun and personal vs. buying a bunch of plastic stuff at the store. And on a deeper level, we are committed to living in our smaller house (with smaller yard) vs. trading up, and so a regular hobby for us is to think of creative ways to maximize our existing space. Can’t wait to see her face on Christmas day!

  • KarenInPittsburgh November 29, 2013, 9:36 am

    This is my first post after a year of simply reading and appreciating–and encouraging all the young and youngish people I know to give MMM a try. I am, for want of a better word, the COO of a non profit adult literacy council in Pittsburgh. In recent years we have hired a number of wonderful young people–a gift of the Great Recession, I suppose, and they have indeed proven to be a great gift for us, (They all started out as AmeriCorps members and learned to live on stipends that made, initially anyway, our salaries look pretty good by comparison.) Obviously, they aren’t making a lot of money like many of the engineers who populate this site; nor are they especially money motivated. Most are not especially spendy either, but I think that few of them think seriously about money, and the impact of small choices on their futures. They are givers by nature –but givers aren’t necessarily savers, which makes it all the more important for these young people who choose non-profit work to follow mustachian principles. I want them to live good secure lives–and not to feel that they have to leave jobs that they love because of financial pressures. I am always delighted and proud when any of our staff leave us for other work which speaks to their hearts or energies more. We trained them and gave them the gift of responsibility–and we are happy when they stay with us and happy for them when they leave us for something that will help them to reach their own personal goals. What makes me sad is when they move on for financial reasons only and find themselves in workplaces with niggling spirits and hierarchies that don’t allow them to use what’s best in themselves. So I have selfishly begun to push MMM as a way of showing them that frugality isn’t just a way to save for the future but is a way to have the “now” that might suit them best.

    In 2014 I will end my years of full time employment–I will not be retiring early by anybody’s standards, but I will be retiring from a job I still love. At this point I just want more time and freedom, and as a leading edge baby boomer, I know I’ve just got to make way. However, I will be retiring quite comfortably because I have never indulged in lifestyle inflation. My starter home is still my home–and I still love it. I resolved years ago not to contribute to the devastation of China’s environment —and I can’t even begin to tell you how much money avoiding the Made in China label has saved me. On Black Friday, I will be trying to finish Thinking Fast and Slow–with Predictably Irrational up next. Note: I will be volunteering my time in retirement to GPLC as an English tutor for immigrants and refugees–it’s hard work but fun. Give the gift of time.

    • meardaba December 2, 2013, 11:44 am

      What an absolutely lovely post – thank you for sharing your contribution to a better world!

  • Early Retirement Extreme November 29, 2013, 9:51 am

    Power Failure present. Haha, brilliant!

  • Fredrik von Oberhausen November 29, 2013, 10:09 am

    I am so pleased that this is one of those American traditions that have yet not reached Europe and Germany where I currently live. The Christmas period is still a bit of a shopping and spending frenzy with special (sometimes slightly excessive) food, with travelling back and forth and some minor gifts to family members. Adding black Friday to that would just be too much. I guess we get a little bit of it via Amazon and “Cyber Monday” which has by now extended to be more than a week but I refuse to buy something during this only for the sake of shopping.

    I still have to work on bringing down the costs for the gifts and I am not yet at the point were I would be comfortable with removing that on the agenda but I try… I try…

  • Debt BLAG November 29, 2013, 11:18 am

    Well put. One of my favorite things to say is that the cheapest __________ is the one you don’t buy. Besides the money spent, I’m shocked at how much stress goes into giving lots of gifts…and the embarrassment or hurt feelings that come along with giving or getting too much or too little.

    And yet somehow, I manage to have close, meaningful relationships with relatives and friends, who I have plenty of fun with during the holidays

  • Sue November 29, 2013, 11:33 am

    I am glad you mentioned that we need alternatives to gift giving all year round. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all celebrate weddings, birthdays and graduations without the pressure of buying ‘stuff’?

    Here are too other good websites for alternatives: http://www.storyofstuff.com and http://www.newdream.org.

    Here are my ideas for alternative gift giving and shopping as an ‘outing’:


  • Kay November 29, 2013, 11:55 am

    One of the reasons I enjoy reading MMM posts so much is that it is comforting to find a community of like-minded individuals out there, even if it is only in cyberspace. It can sometimes be difficult to live the Mustachian lifestyle with the consumerism pressure brought on by family, friends, and coworkers.

    The GMS household just enjoyed a brisk “Black Friday” hike in the snow covered New England woods. I couldn’t imagine a better way to spend this day.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all the MMM readers.

  • Mr. FamilyFinances November 29, 2013, 11:58 am

    I used this lovely day to host my own black friday sale on craigstlist. 8 dining chairs, 1 toddler bed, 1 accent chair, and 2 farmhouse light fixtures. I guess the black friday spending bug was working on good ol’ craigslist as well!

  • Ellie November 29, 2013, 12:03 pm

    This year I am thankful to have found my way to MMM. Have never been a Black Friday shopper and do not suffer from keeping-up-with-the-neighbors-itis. This blog has helped me to be more aware of whether I really need or even want something before I buy. Now if husband could do the same with regard to his camera gear, our household would save more. Why is nearly every adult hobby so expensive?!

  • Edith November 29, 2013, 12:15 pm

    Very nice reading this after watching the horrendous pictures of people buying desperately at stores with the poor cashiers wishing they were dead, on Thursday night. By the way, since there isn’t much knowledge about Mr. Money Mustache in the hispanic world, I took the liberty to write a brief blog entry in a Mexican Finance Blog. The Mustachian Philosophy of “Señor Bigote” was received with much controversy, which is always good. You can check the link at: http://planeatusfinanzas.com/senor-bigote-dinero-libertad-invitado/#axzz2m3j7agal

  • This Life On Purpose November 29, 2013, 1:01 pm

    You guys eat every meal by candlelight? That’s badass.

  • Charon of Myths November 29, 2013, 1:10 pm

    Boo to “River of Myths:” http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2013/09/the-real-population-problem/

    Summary: population growth strongly negatively correlated with PPP per capita GDP at sub-Saharan Africa levels, but positively correlated above about Bulgarian levels.


    • Mr. Money Mustache November 29, 2013, 9:15 pm

      Is that true? How do they explain the lower reproduction rates of Europe and the US?

      I read the article you linked – I think I’m going to have to go with Hans Rosling on this one..

      • Justin G. December 1, 2013, 11:39 am

        I think that can be explained fairly easily. First of all, the extreme growth rates are only in the poorest countries, so a modest increase in growth rates after the turnaround point won’t be enough to bring rates in the affluent world up to those of sub-saharan Africa. Growth rates in Western Europe and the USA should be compared to say, Eastern Europe, rather than Nigeria if you want to see the effect. If you only look at the data as a whole, you would still get a negative correlation between PPP GDP and birthrate, but it would be a half-truth of the type common to statistics. If you run the two-part trendline as suggested, you get a much stronger correlation.

        I think the more important point in that article though was that population growth rates in the third world actually have very little effect on resource consumption and pollution. The modest growth rates in the developed world are far more destructive. Since it is very difficult or even impossible to maintain long-term economic growth with a shrinking population, it is extremely unlikely governments of these nations will move to curtail population growth.

        Even China is moving to relax the one-child policy to encourage population growth and avoid the economic pain of an aging population.

        • Mr. Money Mustache December 1, 2013, 6:25 pm

          You forgot the “until”: Governments will continue to pursue top-line economic growth above all else… UNTIL we can convince enough people to measure human success by something else. Right?

    • Ian Turner November 30, 2013, 7:26 pm

      Interesting article, but I think it makes a pretty major error in conflating “population growth” with “birth rate”. Singapore, for example, has population growth — but it’s almost entirely from immigration; their birth rate is quite low. In other cases, as noted in the comments, the population growth can be just from life extension.

  • noreen November 29, 2013, 1:18 pm

    “(O)ur biggest problem is too many humans.”

    How very sad that you feel that way. Our biggest problem is that we don’t value human life. Society only values those people who make lots of money, are beautiful, or both. While the Gates Foundation has done some wonderful things, their biggest problem is that they think that money solves everything. It doesn’t.

    Have you ever checked out http://overpopulationisamyth.com/?

    • Anonymous November 29, 2013, 2:23 pm

      “overpopulation” isn’t the way to think of it, and I agree that that much is a myth; however, there is indeed a serious problem of over-reproduction, both in third-world countries and among the poor. In both cases, it’s effectively a problem of expanding beyond available resources: don’t have kids when you have no way to take care of them. And that problem does indeed tend to go away with health, prosperity, and education. All those help to provide meaning to life beyond perpetuating your own DNA, as well as counteracting millenia-old advice from an era with much less survivability such as “contraception is evil” and “go forth and multiply”.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 29, 2013, 9:22 pm

      I just checked out that “overpopulation is a myth” site. They seem to be focusing on the already-slowing population growth, and talking mostly about war, disease, famine.

      These are bad things, of course, but I was thinking of the longer view: resource depletion. Having more of us all getting richer means stuff like even faster ecosystem bulldozing and climate change. These are even more serious than the current problems. But they are most easily remedied by raising awareness about the environment (the overpopulation website itself seems blissfully aware of environmental issues!), so we will choose to consume less, have fewer kids, etc.

      Update: just found out who FUNDS that non-scientific website: the “Population research institute” a group with banning abortions worldwide at the top of their agenda. AAAhhh, now it makes sense.

      • Emmers November 30, 2013, 5:10 pm

        Yeah, the parent comment had a small dogwhistle – “doesn’t value human life” is almost always code for “the person speaking is pro-life, and generally ranks that political position above all the rest of their opinions.”

      • woodnclay December 2, 2013, 10:50 am

        I enjoyed the article and reminders about consuming less, although we don’t have Black Friday here in the UK.

        I too am very worried about excessive consumption and the environment but I’m also worried about aspects of the “overpopulation” arguments.

        Some years ago I read “The Greening of Hate,” interview with Betsy Hartmann by Fred Pearce, New Scientist, February 22, 2003. (http://popdev.hampshire.edu/projects/dt/27).

        It stuck in my mind and I was reminded of it when I read this comment thread. I have nothing to do with the researchers, nor do I know who funds them, but I do think it is a complex issue and one which deserves consideration.

        Here’s hoping mustachians can change the world!

  • John November 29, 2013, 2:07 pm

    Love it! It always baffles me that people are willing to camp out in line for gadgets that will be obsolete in a year or two. What’s worse, I’ve seen many stores in my home town that were open on 8 pm yesterday! The fact that we have gotten to the point where we have stores open on a glorious holiday that should be spent with loved ones is a shame. But not for the Mustachians. They’ll have to pry the money from our cold dead hands…

  • Anonymous November 29, 2013, 2:15 pm

    While our family does go for a modest-but-existent holiday (a couple of small and thoughtful gifts rather than an absurdity of unneeded junk), we certainly don’t go out and buy any of it in the mess that is the holiday shopping season; we’re taking advantage of the 100% off Black Friday sale as well.

  • MonicaOnMoney November 29, 2013, 5:06 pm

    I love the idea of deciding not to spend money on retail gifts!

    It is much less stressful and easy to decide what the budget is. I plan on setting a budget for each person on my list but this sounds even more simple. I also like to make gifts for family. I like to oil paint so my family usually gets these paintings for gifts.

    Thanks for another awesome inspiration!

  • Tammy Laverty November 29, 2013, 5:40 pm

    I like to give experiences, like tickets to the local theater. Supporting the arts is certainly a luxury, but I feel like it builds community and just makes my neighborhood a better place to live for everyone! We also do the hand-made route, and try to keep things very small when we do give purchased gifts.

    I do like to buy small, inexpensive gifts that directly support artisans around the world. For example, I have a friend who is started a charity that sells bags made by women in Indian slums. A gift like that is a worthwhile purchase to me, because I am using my purchasing power to make someone’s life better, not line a CEO’s pockets. I have never participated in black friday, and never will! What a waste of time, money and energy that could be used elsewhere!

  • SomeYoungGuy November 29, 2013, 6:32 pm

    I’ve been out of the country for a while, and I can’t help but notice how much better Black Friday is for a frugal individual. I went to Walmart today and not only was it not crawling with zombies, it was offering really good deals to regular shoppers. I don’t need to save $5 on a $10 item, but I won’t shame those that took advantage. This is a much more rational society than the one I left in 2009…

    • Walt November 30, 2013, 2:15 pm

      I was out on Friday to get a haircut, and in getting there went past the shopping center with Walmart and Home Depot.

      Walmart had a full-ish parking lot, but there really wasn’t much traffic. The haircut place said they’d been fairly slow but steady.

      I think the stores are going to be telling us how bad sales are this year again.

  • Jeff in Detroit November 29, 2013, 6:35 pm

    I figured if the crowds are buying, a Mustachian should be selling! This year, I used Black Friday as a motivational deadline to round up a bunch of my clutter and get it listed on ebay for the weekend. I easily found 40 items and about a third have already been snapped up at the buy-it now prices (which I thought were overly optimistic). Grossed nearly $1000 in the last 24 hours! Just from stuff that was obsolete for my life!

  • H November 29, 2013, 7:04 pm

    My husband and I have been growing mini mustaches over the last two years but have only recently found your blog and we are LOVING it. We have been refreshed and inspired to unshackle even further from the culture of more vs. enough.

    With this inspiration buzzing in our ears we approached my extended family with whom we traditionally spend Christmas and asked two questions: 1) “What would everyone think of substituting the massive gift giving frenzy that swallows up nearly three hours of our Christmas day for creative family games, conversation, whatever as long as it doesn’t include a price tag?” and 2) “If no one likes that idea then would we be creating bad feelings if we constructed the holiday schedule so we were spent the equal amount of time with family but took ourselves out of the gift loop equation?”

    EVERYONE in my family loved the 1st option and expressed great excitement about it EXCEPT for one sister, who is nearly in her forties (I mention this because somehow it feels relevant).

    First she got red, very, very red, then she cried, a lot. Who were we to interfere with tradition? This family gives gifts, “always has!” and if anyone tried to opt out then that “One person is ruining everything!” I believe was the quote hurled in my direction. By then my husband had drifted off into the distance once the shit got real (who could blame him… well I could a little if I was honest) leaving me alone being pointed at like the Grinch who ran over Santa Claus with his bike then backed it up and shot the gift lovin’ fool gangsta style in front of Cindy Lou Who and her sunday school class.

    The result: the rest of the family caved like an emotional soufflé in the face of this, uncomfortable for all, adult tantrum. My husband and I also chose to give in for the sake of peace on U-crazy St. however we gave our 13 months notice that this WILL BE our last consumer Christmas regardless of accusations of “cheap tradition breakers” dancing above our heads.

    Consumerism 1, Our Family zero… for now.

    • Mr. Money Mustache November 29, 2013, 9:42 pm

      Oh man.. great story and thanks for sharing it. Way to go on almost flipping the switch on the first try!

      Imagine a parallel story: you try to suggest that your family starts walking or riding bikes occasionally instead of driving. Everyone agrees, until your dad gets teary-eyed and sniffs, “But in this family.. we’ve ALWAYS driven cars. And not old used ones. Brand new cars – very nice ones. For every single trip outside of the house. Even down the block to the neighbor’s house. It’s just who we are!”

      The exchanging of retail purchases on a seasonal basis makes just about as much sense.

      • Done by Forty December 3, 2013, 11:32 am

        I am dropping of my car to be re-painted today (as the seller we found on Craigslist who buys salvaged cars and does the bodywork/painting himself turns out to have done a crumby job, and now the paint is peeling all off our hood). I was going to get a ride back, but now will just be packing my bike in the back and riding home. It’s not that cold…heck, it’s Arizona. It never gets that cold.

    • Jackie November 30, 2013, 4:49 am

      Oh man! Great story! Reminds me of our situation 33 years ago when we attempted to shut down the Xmas madness with my in-laws. Only it was my Father-in-law who had the tantrum. He was so pissed that his pile of presents wasn’t its normal size that he left the room and refused to open the MANY presents that HAD been given to him. Sweet jaysus! He was in his mid fifties! Yep, Xmas for my hubby’s family meant that you shouldn’t be able to walk through the living room because there were so many gifts. The next year was back to the way he wanted it and it was set in stone that I was the crazy daughter-in-law! Lol!

    • Ann December 1, 2013, 7:26 pm

      Sorry your family didn’t take it well. Going from a gift frenzy to no gifts is a pretty big transition–maybe you could convince people to draw names and give (and get) one (perhaps slightly larger value) gift instead of a billion small gifts? Or a “gift game” type of thing? Shifting all the way to an only gifts is a big transition, and perhaps a step down approach would be help the transition.

    • Posted On December 5, 2013, 3:16 pm

      I feel your pain, H. My wife and I tried desperately to break from the gift giving tradition in my family.

      A few years ago, when I was maybe 45, we suggested that the adult siblings in my family have a dinner in a restaurant instead of exchanging gifts. Not completely musthachian, but I felt we had to do something to get away from treating ourselves as children.
      We told my siblings that we would only buy gifts for children under 18, and our parents. Everyone else (my siblings) had the option of joining us for a dinner, or exchanging gifts with us. I saw one meal together as a way to save my siblings money as well as a way for us to spend time together.

      Well, I have one sister (and my parents) who went berzerk. My parents were not even involved, they are not siblings, and we still planned to exchange gifts with them, but they sat my wife and I down and had a talk with us. I tried to point out that in our family (of 5 adult children) there was not one grandchild to speak of. I thought this was the reason people felt like giving gifts to 30 and 40 year old children. There were no grand-children to pass the tradition on to.

      I also asked my parents how old they were when they stopped giving gifts to their siblings, because I am pretty sure it was in their twenties, soon after marriage, when they moved 2000 miles to get away from their own families! (My dad freely admits that he’s glad he moved to CA from PA, to get away from “that place”).

      Needless to say, my parents never bought us a gift again, even though they were not part of this attempt at a new tradition and we still buy them a gift every year. And my one sister (she’s 48 in a couple months) buys me gifts like pez dispensers and lunch boxes, and refuses to attend the dinner (which is OK with me). She’s at least learned to curb her gift giving quantities after the first year of all this when she gave me a butt-load of gifts (most for children) and received a $25 gift card from both me and my wife.

      Once she gave me a Christian book about the meaning of Christmas, and tried to tell me the book said xmas was all about gift giving.

      This Holiday is one of the most stressful there is, and I think that is partly due to the gift giving tradition that people latch on to so hard.

      • Leslie December 6, 2013, 12:24 pm

        I have a lovely book about the meaning of Christmas and its history in Ireland specifically. In the olden days they gave oranges, nuts, and spices, as gifts as these were hard to come by. Not sure when it turned into black friday events, giving reindeer sweaters and big screen T.Vs. Small tokens of appreciation were given if anything. We finally gave up on the gift giving thing because we felt that it took away from the true meaning of the holiday. It was another sibling’s idea and she asked the family to go along with it. Interestingly, she is the one who still is a dedicated church goer and volunteer. Now that everyone is grown up we give money to the food banks instead.

  • Mary November 29, 2013, 8:40 pm

    I bought nothing. I even ignored the FREE $10 from Kohls and did not darken the door. YEA!!!

  • Jim November 29, 2013, 11:01 pm

    Spending the weekend leisurely wrenching on the work (mini)van – ’02 Dodge Grand Caravan, 150k mi (abundant & cheap to own if mechanically inclined, good crowd-sourcing online for repairs and common failures). I’ll be catching up on some non-critical repairs (hatch struts, window regulators, suspension bushings) before the weather gets really cold (30*F today in unheated garage).

    It’s nice to have a long weekend with the vechicle disabled – in case I encounter an unforeseen problem during teardown, and need to hit the junkyard for spares.


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