On Black Friday, Which Line Will You Join? One Takes You To Liberty, The Other To Mediocrity


Back in May, my team and I attended the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder’s meeting in Omaha. As we were waiting in line to get into the Quest Center that morning, I was struck by the presence of another line that had formed outside. The other line that had formed was not waiting to get inside.

One of Berkshire’s subsidiaries is NetJets. If you’re not familiar with the company, they sell fractional ownership in private jets to companies and individuals. Outside of the Quest Center that day, dozens of uniformed NetJets pilots picketed against the company for better benefits and pay. “Management greed is destroying NetJets,” read one placard.

Standing In The Wrong Line

What struck me as ironic, was that those picketing where in the wrong line that day. You see, if their chief aim was to increase their net worth, those pilots should have been standing in the same line we were standing in. Because the line we were in took its participants into a place where we spent the day learning money, investing and success principles from the greatest investor that has ever lived, Warren Buffett.

Which brings me to the point of today’s post…

In a couple of weeks, many Americans will once again participate in the spectacle that is Black Friday. Thousands of people will line-up outside of retailer’s doors for hours, some sleeping on the ground like cats and dogs,  just for the chance to a buy a TV or gadget at a discounted price.

Are you one of them?

If so, you’ll probably be offended by what I’m about to say –  people who wait in lines like this, value their time at zero. Like it’s disposable. Like it’s worthless.

The hard truth is that a person who doesn’t value time, won’t do much of value with their time either.

Show me somebody that will wait in line 8 hours in the rain just to get $100 off a big screen TV (another time waster) and I’ll show you someone whose life sucks. You see, someone who squanders time is not looking to do something with their life, rather their looking for an escape from it. They might as well be holding a sign in line that says “I value an Xbox more than I value my life.”

I don’t mean that in a critical way. It’s just the truth.

Warren Buffett Doesn’t Waste His Time

Take a look at some of the most successful people you know. How do they spend their time? Do they stand in line all day to be one of the first people to have the latest smartphone? Do they spend 3 hours online looking to save $20 on the latest game console?

Of course not.

It’s because they know something that the time wasters don’t – that time is the great equalizer. Rich or poor, we all get 24 hours to consume. Nobody gets more and nobody gets less.

With the same amount of time, how is it that only 1% of the population is financially set while the remaining 99% struggle financially? It comes down to how they value their time.

-The one percenter waits in line at the bookstore or library to get a book that will make a difference in their lives. The ninety-nine percenter waits in line at 4:00a to buy something that will lower their IQ.

-The one percenter spends her time reading and attending wealth-building seminars. The ninety-nine percenter spends hours online gossiping on social media.

-The one percenter spends their time comparing investment alternatives. The ninety-nine percenter spends their time comparing Blu-Ray players.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with having toys if you can afford them. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with saving money. That’s a virtue. But valuing your time poorly is not. Surely you’ve heard the phrase “penny-wise but pound-foolish?” Indeed, lurking behind mediocrity you’ll find many people who are foolish with their time.

Learned Helplessness

There’s something else insidious about wasting time standing in line on Black Friday. People who do this have developed the bad habit of waiting for things. They wait for the new iPhone to be released. They wait for their paychecks to arrive at the end of each month so they can start buying more things, to then again wait in line to pay for them.

They are literally training themselves into believing that waiting is the only way to get the things in life they so desperately want or need. Somehow they’ve unlearned the most important principle to success – to proactively fight for the things we want. To not wait, but to go after what we must have.

To me it seems that some have forgotten how to take care of themselves, for themselves.

It’s had such a huge impact on their behavior that they simply started waiting for pretty much everything in their lives to magically happen. They hope it will happen if they just wait long enough…

Waiting for that promotion, that pay raise, that job offer, that investment opportunity, or permission to start living the lives of their dreams.

The truth is that none of these things will ever happen if you just wait long enough for them to happen. It’s actually up to each person to start doing and stop waiting, just like the old quote – “If it has to be, it has to be me.”

Otherwise you will just be waiting your life away. In fact, there are people who wait all week for the weekend, all year for Black Friday and all their life…for happiness.

Know this – The biggest waste of time in life is underestimating yourself. If you think of yourself as average then you’ll waste time like an average person and stand in line for hours for “things”. Trust me, if you think your time is not worth much it won’t be worth much. In other words, if you do what everyone else does, you’ll get what everyone else gets – not much.

So, this Black Friday make a choice. Make a choice to skip the lines. To stop waiting and to start creating. Start creating the life that you know that you must have. Instead of searching for the perfect gift, give the gift of your absence to things that don’t add value to your life like standing in line. Be picky with how you invest your time. Remember this – wasted time is worse than wasted money.

Be free. Nothing else is worth it.

Financial Freedom Monty Campbell

Instead of standing in line on Black Friday,  check-out these articles from the blog archives:

If Your Money Could Talk, What Would It Say?

The Ultimate Stupidity Tax (Part I)

Are You Holding Yourself Back Unintentionally?

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  • Robby Bonfire

    It really is not that complicated. You want to become wealthy, you become “The House,” a.k.a. the proprietor. You do not become The House or the proprietor, you continue to be the jerk who keeps feeding money into the slot machines, you will die broke. The choice is yours – you sell a product or service successfully, you will gain, at the very least, financial freedom. You waste your time, energy, and what little money you have on dead-end activities and pursuits, that road leads no where but to old age destitution.

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      Well put Robby. Either build money trees or give your money to someone who does build money trees. The former will get a person to financial freedom; the latter to mediocrity.

  • emvcollege

    I just found your blog from James Altucher’s blog. Loving what I’m reading!

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      Thank you. Several others have found their way here from James’ blog. Glad to have you join!

  • nacs18

    I somewhat disagree. I have been able to save some bucks waiting in line for things that I was going to purchase anyway, so I think there is some benefit to taking advantage of retailers offers during the holiday season.

    • Robby Bonfire

      You need to save money to invest in yourself, not to spend the money you have saved on new retail toys. Extremely poor financial priorities, you have. You are voting to stay poor, every time you buy a new “toy.”

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      There’s nothing wrong with wanting to save money. However, the point you are missing is that you don’t value your time when you wait in line like those on Black Friday. To really grasp what I’m saying here, you should calculate what your time is worth per hour and then see if waiting in line 4 hours is worth saving $25 on a game console. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your time is worth something only when you work/get paid. It’s always worth something and there’s a tradeoff.

  • beneasely

    I remember reading an article last year about two women who started waiting in line at Best Buy a week before black Friday. I thought it was crazy.

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      A week before Black Friday, wow. That takes time wasting to another level!

  • wintg

    “The hard truth is that a person who doesn’t value time, won’t do much of value with their time either.” Great quote. Very true!

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      Thanks. I don’t take credit for the quote. I’m not sure who authored that quote, but it’s been a favorite of mine for some time.

  • Melanie H.

    This hits a little too close to home! I’ve stood in line before trying to get a good deal, but you’re right. My time is worth something and to stand in a line outside of Walmart for hours is not a good use of my time when i could be doing something more valuable with it instead.

    • https://www.montycampbell.com/ Monty Campbell

      I think many people have done this Melanie. Your time is worth more than that, so it’s good to reflect and use your time more wisely.