Overspending cost me £ 30,000 in credit card debt – here’s how to resist Black Friday | Claire Sceau


Iit’s here. The time of year when every marketing email you’ve signed up for in the past few years – to maybe get that tempting introductory discount – comes back to haunt you. A terrifying flurry of discounts, all for a limited time, often with an added dose of emotional blackmail on how purchasing this product will make you a better person, friend, relative, sibling.

Every year, Black Friday emails are thicker, faster, and earlier, with a vigor matched only by Hogwarts owls, and the specter of last year’s semi-canceled Christmas. has made most of us more vulnerable than ever to manipulative marketing.

There are probably few more qualified than I to talk about the cumulative effect of a difficult relationship with money and an unfortunate susceptibility to smart marketing, given that my own path to writing has been. to share the process of paying off a five-figure debt. If I could divide the £ 27,000 into different reasons, some would be just trying to survive, some would be frivolity, but the vast majority would be somehow related to my need to please others and keep up appearances. at all costs, financially or otherwise. Donner was my Achilles heel; if I found the perfect gift, I would always justify the expense somehow. My way of showing that I cared was through material generosity, and I always had to be the one to give more.

Too proud to ask for help or admit I was drowning in financial trouble, I racked up more debt trying to prove I was okay, until March 2019, when it all finally fell apart. My breaking point came on an otherwise mundane morning when my bank called me to ask me why I was in an unsettled overdraft and when I could settle it. “There’s just… no more money,” I heard myself say to the woman over the phone when she asked me why I couldn’t fix things faster. And when I walked out of that phone call, awash in despair but also, if I’m honest, a little relieved that I finally said it, I made the obvious. I opened an Instagram account.

The past two years of documenting my progress out of debt and examining why I ended up there in the first place has taught me a lot, but my biggest triumph has been developing some type-exact resilience. marketing that we find ourselves bombarded with at this time of year.

The techniques used by retailers around Black Friday are now in play all year round – perfectly synchronized Facebook ads, adding a ‘buy now, pay later’ banner to your abandoned online shopping cart, the way a dress follows you around the internet until you finally give in and buy it – but at Christmas, and especially in a pandemic context, these techniques are both generously applied and increasingly effective.

I have noticed among friends and acquaintances a kind of traumatic response to the change of seasons this year. Many are weak and anxious, afraid to make plans with the wreckage of last Christmas still fresh in their minds, while others enter the holiday season with a grim determination to make this year “better.” [for which read: more expensive] than ever “. Both sentiments are fertile ground for overspending and overconsumption, and the message used in almost every ad campaign only reinforces this. In my inbox, Paperchase commands me to ‘make up for lost Christmas’ by ‘spoiling them in a stupid way’, while Tesco’s TV commercial that shows people overcoming Covid and the supply chain crisis to make sure that “this Christmas, nothing is stopping us” makes me feel “to hell with the consequences” when adding to my cart.

The biggest advice I can give you as we head into the next few weeks? Unsubscribe, unsubscribe and turn off “activity outside Facebook” (Google, you won’t regret it). For gifts, make a list and stick to it. Check out the gift guides – or just ask the person what they want – rather than aimlessly surfing the internet, collecting cookies, and losing your mind. If you do manage to get a discount, don’t feel like you have to make up the extra money with another giveaway. Remember, it’s only a good deal if you were to buy it anyway, and it won’t be the only chance you get to buy this particular thing. And even if it does, I promise you will quickly forget about it. It’s just stuff, after all.


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