Washington – Economists are predicting consumers will spend more than $3 billion to kick off the holiday shopping season this year, starting with Black Friday.

But some financial experts say you should have a plan before you grab your checkbook or credits cards. And others want you to consider not shopping at all.

Bruce McClary, vice president for communications at the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, said consumers shouldn’t necessarily wait for Black Friday to begin their shopping.

“You can find bargains throughout the year, and Black Friday is not the only day of the year where sale prices are available,” McClary said. “So, I think it’s helpful for people to look for opportunities throughout the year to save on things that they know they’ll need for the holiday season. ”

McClary said if you do go shopping on Black Friday, planning is the key to finding the gifts you want without blowing your budget or going too deep into debt. He said if consumers carefully map out their shopping trip, budget only what they can afford to spend, and stick to the plan, no amount of high-pressure advertising can get them off track.

But another group of folks thinks the best way to protect your finances – and your sanity – is to skip Black Friday altogether. They are advocating for Friday to be a “Buy Nothing Day“, a way to avoid what they see as the heavy-handed commercialism that’s overtaken the holiday season.

Kalle Lasn, editor in chief of Adbusters Magazine – a sponsor of Buy Nothing Day – has encouraged people to cut up their credit cards and pursue alternative activities.

“The heart of Buy Nothing Day is a very individual thing, where you sort of look at your life and remember what you did last Black Friday, and you say to yourself ‘I’m not to do it again the same way this year,” Lasn said. “I’m going to try this Buy Nothing Day thing and then see how it feels."”

Lasn said Buy Nothing Day was created in response to events like the Great Recession, during which people were urged to keep spending despite struggling with their finances.

“And we started thinking about Buy Nothing Day as a way to disrupt Black Friday,” he said. “And not just to stop at Black Friday, have one day when we all think about this, but actually to go right into the Christmas season and to disrupt the whole of the Christmas season.”

The term Black Friday was coined in the 1960s and adopted by corporations and merchants because many count on holiday sales to generate a large percentage of their annual revenues.


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