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Forget Shopping — I Spend My Black Friday Deleting

My email inbox is never as crowded as on this shopping holiday.

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Email inbox of Black Friday emails

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I never realize how many stores I’ve given my email address to until Black Friday rolls around.

But on this hallowed shopping day, suddenly, my inbox — and I suspect yours too — is flooded. Half off this, 60% off that, “up to” (a very sneaky phrase indeed) 70% off something or other. My email is littered with promotions, from the familiar retailers who always crowd my inbox (I see you, Madewell) to companies I barely realized had stuff for sale (who knew so many exercise studios did Black Friday??).

GIF of email inbox scrolling through Black Friday sales

Each email promotion is tempting in its own way. Steve Madden shoes are already fairly affordable, so wouldn’t it be easy to throw a few into my online cart? Should today be the day where I buy the Anthropologie plates that always seemed a little too pricey? What about that cashmere Everlane sweater that’s now calling to me from a subject line?

It’s just so easy. Of all the ways we’re bombarded with Black Friday sales, email may be the most devious — up close and personal, right on your phone, sitting alongside photos from last night’s Thanksgiving dinner. Email is intimate and personal, a direct line of private communication that you and only you get to see.

It’s also constant, as the homebase from which so many of us run our lives. Your inbox is where plans are made, communication takes place, priorities are set (thanks, little gold stars). In a fit of digital detox, you may force yourself off Twitter or Facebook; but you’ll likely keep your email open, checking back frequently. I know I do.

Which is why, on Black Friday, my inbox feels like a minefield — email after email about sales, sales, and more sales. How easy it would be to make one false move, one quick click open, and fall down an online shopping spiral.

So instead, I’ve established my own Black Friday ritual: deleting. I delete every single Black Friday promo, every subject line pushing me to spend. Sure, I still find a way to do some shopping (my Facebook and Instagram feeds are also filled with alluring ads). But when it comes to email, I take an all-or-nothing approach to controlling my spending.

With every email I delete, I feel stronger and more resolute. I don’t need the Anthropologie plates. I already have all the winter shoes I need. And thanks for the note, Everlane, but I actually prefer to try on my cashmere in store before buying.

I may spend Friday batting away sales emails like a game of digital Whac-A-Mole; but come Saturday morning, my wallet is always grateful. Thanksgiving indeed.

Watch: Why Is Black Friday Still a Thing?