Not really shopping

November 22, 2023

I KNOW, all the Black Friday deals. But something about the collective buying frenzy tends to turn me off just when prices are at their lowest. I learned a long time ago that settling for something close-to-but-not-quite-right on sale only backfires: I end up with more stuff, I often still want what I originally wanted, and now I have less $ and more clutter. Blargh.

So I will probably abstain from shopping for the most part this week, which is consistent with my usual practice. That said, I am on call. Via some dopamine-related brain hijinks, my “wanting stuff” meter always goes through the roof when on call. Jetpens probably knows my call schedule by this point! ALSO, Hanukkah is coming up. I tend to let Josh do most of the kid-gift-buying but it would be nice to get it done a bit farther in advance this year. SOOO maybe Black Friday would actually be a logical time to get some of the requested gifts.

Fruit Babies from Glow Recipe. I do see the appeal!

A wants things like: skincare/cosmetics from brands like Glow Recipe (they have their teen marketing DOWN); nicer athleisure (think Nike + Lululemon)

C wants: games for his Nintendo switch; unlimited gaming time (lol)

G wants: everything (the good news: she’s delighted by most things; the bad news: she wants them all)

I want all kinds of ridiculous things, but no one is going to get them for me. (PS: People that say they don’t want anything — do they really mean that!?? I am entirely content with what I HAVE, but I still want things even if some of them are more like experiences/services than tangible goods.)

((PPS I wish we could all stop wanting things because it would probably be much better for the earth + humanity. Hmm.))

If I do get anything for myself, it will be stuff I was going to get anyway such as:

  • next pair(s) of running shoes
  • bras (I am due)
  • do contact lenses go on sale?
  • that’s about it.

If I hadn’t already procured my 2024 planner lineup this would be a great time (lot of 25-30% deals out there!) but I’m all set. Also, Hobonichi does not really have sales though sometimes amazon will mark down older versions of their planners.

Will you go shopping — IRL or online — later this week?

Do you prefer to buy things on sale?

Top wish list item for yourself?


  • Reply Caitlin November 22, 2023 at 6:22 am

    I am with you, although I will probably buy a few things this year (I have a list). I decided a long time ago that I would much rather get the thing I actually want *at the time I actually need/want it/can make a thoughtful purchase* than to save a small amount of money.

    There are things that I want, but either they are experiences, too expensive, or hard to articulate, or I would rather pick out exactly what I want. I also really like to support small businesses and that can be hard to get through to others. And the climate/humanity aspect stresses me out, too.

  • Reply Ruth November 22, 2023 at 6:43 am

    I try to use Black Friday to buy what I would anyway. However I find just making an effort to google for discount codes is often better for me. I get what I want and can usually find at least 10% off.

  • Reply Coree November 22, 2023 at 6:48 am

    Black Friday has moved to the UK as well. Nothing in particular sticks out for me – I mostly buy books and those don’t go on great sale…

    I did a The Ordinary order in early November, as they do 23% off all month. And we have a great used clothes app in the UK, so I’ve gotten some good clothes items (Christmas jumper, etc) through there, including a few things NWT.

    But I hear you on finding the frenzy unnerving. I volunteer at our town zero waste sale which I love doing but also, I just watch people bring piles of things home and wonder what they do with it all? Is it just a temporary pitstop en route to the landfill?

  • Reply jennystancampiano November 22, 2023 at 8:23 am

    I usually don’t shop on Black Friday, just because it seems overwhelming to me. I figure there are going to be deals all the time from now until Christmas. I like your wish list- running shoes, bras, and contacts? I guess mine is equally practical (although I have a few books on my list.)
    I have no idea what my kids want this year! Ack!

  • Reply Elizabeth November 22, 2023 at 9:59 am

    I bought my Erin Condren Daily Duo when they started their sale for insiders last week, and I bought a pair of Tory Burch sneakers last week on sale. I am usually too busy with family to shop too much on BF. I do want more LeLabo body wash (thank you for that suggestion) and some waterproof walking tennis shoes for a trip to Copenhagen! I always love your suggestions so keep them coming!

  • Reply Lisa's Yarns November 22, 2023 at 10:47 am

    I don’t love all the gift guides and sales posts and things like that either. It’s great to save money on things you planned to buy (like I will be buying some beauty counter sunscreen during their black friday sale) but it just feels soo over-the-top focused on SPEND SPEND SPEND.

    I am one of those people who says they truly do not want anything and I mean it. If I never received another gift in my life, I would be completely happy about this. I am not someone that does all that much shopping in general. I like experiences, but I don’t need someone to buy those experiences for me since I can afford them myself? My husband is the same way. We never exchange gifts. He literally does not want anything. So if I feel the need to give him something, I give him the “gift of time” to golf or do whatever it is he’d like to do. Or pre-kids, we would go out to dinner to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries. We’ve shifted to getting take out in these young-kid years. But overall, we are just not “spenders”? I don’t know if that comes from our Midwest middle class upbringing or something else.

    All that said, I have young kids so I do need to buy them gifts. They get a lot of gifts from my MIL and other extended family so we tend to buy them fewer things but they don’t complain. They usuallly have so many gifts that they open a few/day for a multi-day stretch so they are not lacking in the gift department…

    • Reply Amanda November 23, 2023 at 5:40 am

      I also have a Midwest middle class upbringing but am a spender. It must be powerful to have two non-spenders in a relationship!

    • Reply Daria November 26, 2023 at 10:43 am

      Lisa, you took the words right out of my mouth! In the same boat.

  • Reply maxine November 22, 2023 at 11:59 am

    RE: contact lenses – how bad is your vision? I’m a -9.00, and I went to an optometrist this year and, for the first time ever, despite wearing contacts since 2nd grade, my contacts were covered under my *medical* (not vision) insurance. They were determined to be “medically necessary” and were free! Maybe this is a benefit to my particular insurance, but it may be worth investigating!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 22, 2023 at 1:19 pm

      WOW!!!! My vision is -11 so . . . bad! VERY interesting!!!!

      • Reply Michelle November 22, 2023 at 2:22 pm

        Yes but this only applies to monthly contacts I believe!

  • Reply Chelsea November 22, 2023 at 12:02 pm

    We are just about on the same page as you with gifts for the kids. The big boys want video games and time to play them and the youngest wants literally everything. He needs a big kid suitcase.

    I’m also with you that I love stuff and I can ALWAYS think of things I’d like to get. No one will buy me anything, so – honestly – I just buy what I want and let my husband wrap it. Currently on the list: a new nightgown (mine has finally gotten holes in it, though this is probably the wrong season because I want something light), bikes for D and I to ride with the kids now that the little one can ride (probably not in the budget for this year), new bathroom towels (ours are starting to smell like Florida), a new GPS watch (mine died and I actually have a new one on the way), and a new strap for my RoadID to fit onto my watch because the old one is about to die.

    Yes, experiences are great and I know we’re all supposed to have transcended our desire for material possessions, but I freely admit that I enjoy the experience of having non-stinky towels and a watch to run with. I will probably do some internet shopping on Black Friday – Cyber Monday – namely for above suitcase.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 22, 2023 at 1:21 pm

      I want things AND experiences. LOLOL. Ahh well.

      • Reply Chelsea November 22, 2023 at 3:37 pm

        Oh for sure, I want experiences, too! Mr. Beast can drop by $100,000 any day and I’ll have no trouble spending it 😉

        • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 22, 2023 at 4:20 pm

          I bet at least $2k would go to running gear in your case. (Me too 🙂 )

    • Reply Nadine November 22, 2023 at 1:44 pm

      Not sure if this is helpful, but if you try washing them in hot water with a tablespoon or two of bleach it will kill whatever is making the gross smell.

      Started using bleach on lots of things after I did cloth diapers and I was amazed at how well it worked on them. Bleach is pretty magic.

      • Reply Chelsea November 22, 2023 at 3:29 pm

        I do… and I wash them EVERY DAY to cut down on smell. It just happens after a year or so because of the humidity. Also, I want new towels, lol.

  • Reply Lisa's Yarns November 22, 2023 at 12:44 pm

    I forgot to comment on contacts. I wear acuvue dailies and that company seems to always have some sort of rebates. It has ranged from $100-300 in years past, I think. I always buy all of my contacts for the year in one purchase so I always take advantage of that. But I think if you aren’t in dailies, there likely isn’t any sort of sales or rebate available.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 22, 2023 at 1:21 pm

      I do the rebate and have something like $150/yr covered by my vision plan but still end up having to pay a few hundred (I wear also use dailies bc the longer wearing really start getting irritated a few days in).

  • Reply Omdg November 22, 2023 at 1:35 pm

    I want new sheets and to replace my old ratty sports bras with fancy lululemon ones. And some new joggers. Thanks for the Glow rec! Dylan wanted some lotion and now I know where to get it!

  • Reply Kathleen November 22, 2023 at 1:42 pm

    Confirming that some of us really, truly, honestly DO NOT WANT anything! More free time and more fresh air, but no stuff.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger November 22, 2023 at 2:04 pm

      That is awesome Kathleen!!!

  • Reply Grateful Kae November 22, 2023 at 4:25 pm

    I have never gone out shopping on Black Friday, but I do try to keep an eye out for if there’s any specials or sales on something that I’m planning to buy anyway. For example, I use this one hair product and I happened to notice an email stating all Aveda products are 25% of this week. I will buy it regardless, so might as well buy it at 25% (or get 2!).

    Also, I noticed that there were a lot of Black Friday travel deals, so I double checked our upcoming Oahu lodging and ended up cancelling our hotel and rebooking for a better price! If there’s ever anything “tech” that we want, or like a bigger household purchase like a new TV or something, we’ll often wait and check Black Friday sales.

  • Reply Alyce November 22, 2023 at 4:46 pm

    When I tell people I don’t want gifts, what I really mean is I’m super picky about what I bring into my home and it’s very likely that I won’t want whatever thing you buy for me. And even if you know the category of thing that I want (say new towels), I am still very picky about the specific item, and you likely won’t know that I want orange Turkish towels, and not Halloween orange but burnt orange, and I also have feelings about the pattern too. And it turns out after being on the lookout for these very specific towels for years, I’ve finally found the right one and it’s like $50/towel. Which I personally think is ridiculous, but I will buy 10 of them because what I’m looking for is so specific and I’ve literally been looking for them for years. And very few people are willing to spend a lot of money on the specific thing that I want, so I’d rather just buy it myself than suggest to you that we want new towels and have you go to Target and buy something you think I’ll like. And even though I finally found the towels I’m looking for, I’ve been holding out the last few months so that I can see if they’ll be on sale during the holidays. Around August/September I stop making big purchases that I can hold off on. So I do always look forward to Black Friday shopping because I usually have a couple of big purchases to make. Other items on the list: a new suitcase for my husband and a new living room rug. I also always stock up on my dental care for the year. Unfortunately for me the only toothpaste I love happens to cost $18/tube – again, patently ridiculous, but I now find conventional toothpaste to be disgusting so I can never go back. Their floss and toothbrushes are also excellent, so even though cheaper alternative would suffice, with Black Friday sales, the price isn’t crazy so I throw them in the order too. (I only buy a present for one person – my boss who always buys me presents. But my family doesn’t have a gift giving tradition and my husband’s family is Jewish and doesn’t gift for Hanukkah, so I’m otherwise not caught up in the end of year shopping frenzy.)

    • Reply Caitlin November 23, 2023 at 6:32 am

      I feel very seen by this comment!!

  • Reply Kelly Struckhoff November 22, 2023 at 7:18 pm

    Hi, Sarah! I’m an under-buyer most of the year, but refreshed my sparse makeup bag today with Fresh Sugar lip balm and two of their tinted lip balms. This is a non-sponsored comment, haha. Looking forward to adding a little polish to my day-to-day and to upcoming holiday gatherings. Appreciate you and your engaging podcasts—happy holidays!

  • Reply Ali November 22, 2023 at 7:30 pm

    I don’t really want anything right now, which is mostly a function of the fact that I’m in a place in life where I just buy most things I really want. It helps that most of the things I want fall in a category I would classify mostly as a need even if that isn’t strictly true (for example, if my running shoes are worn out I just buy new ones as needed).

    One thing we do each year at Christmas and what I will be Black Friday shopping for are kids that we sponsor for the holidays. It is just so humbling to see that kids need underwear, socks, winter coats, etc…it makes me realize how my family truly needs nothing and keeps our desire to buy a bunch of plastic junk for my kids in check. I also think it has been a great exercise for my kids, who naturally take it for granted all they have. It is fun to shop Black Friday and buy things that are truly needed and find good deals at the same time!

  • Reply Coco November 23, 2023 at 2:21 am

    I am buying small things for the kids for advent calendar and christmas gifts. They are small and unnecessary which is fine once a year.
    I also don’t know what I want, I’m happy with what I have and try to be mindful getting new thigns when it’s want and not need.

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