Episode 61: Black Friday & Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving and Black Friday during COVID with Mak & G
Episode 61: Black Friday & Thanksgiving


In this episode, Mak & G look at the history of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, how they’ve been affected by COVID and the importance they have for both charities and our entire economy.


Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year and the amount of sales that happen on that day can normally be used as a good indicator to how well our economy is performing.


In this episode, Mak & G look at the history of these holidays, the origin of Black Friday, and why this holiday is so important to our economy…


“Finance is in all things if you look hard enough.” G


“Lots of people feel better when they buy something, anything, that retail therapy is a powerful drug.” – Mak

Time Stamps:

00:10 – How many quarters we collected in the last 3 years.

02:24 – The biggest shopping day of the year Black Friday.

04:00 – The history of Thanksgiving.

06:20 – The best part of Thanksgiving.

07:49 – Why Thanksgiving is so important for charities.

08:25 – How Black Friday and Cyber Monday shows how well our economy is performing.

10:26 – Why Black Friday is called Black Friday.

12:00 – How positive feedback loops work.

12:30 – How many Black Friday sales happen online.

14:46 – How COVID has affected Thanksgiving and Black Friday.


Connect with Ben Jones:


MAK: One hundred twenty-five, one hundred twenty-six, one hundred twenty-seven…one hundred twenty-seven fifty. Not bad. 

GRANT: Not bad at all sis, I didn’t know you could count that high!

MAK: (Sarcastic) Ha. Ha. Ha. Grant you’re SO funny.

GRANT: I’m happy you finally figured that out Mak. Seriously though, what are you doing?

MAK: Well G, I remembered we’ve been saving these quarters since forEVER so I thought I’d count them and see how much we have!

GRANT: Good plan. And what did you count up to – $127 and 50 cents? That’s…510 quarters!

MAK: Wow, did you do that math in your HEAD?

GRANT: I did. Easy! Four quarters in a dollar, so 127 times four, plus two more for fifty cents. Easy when you break it down Mak!

MAK: Nice. So I counted them, you did the math, we saved them up together, so what are we going to do with all this moolah!?

GRANT: Well you know what Mak, I got a couple ideas.

MAK: Tell me bro!

GRANT: I’ll give you a clue…what time of year is it?


GRANT: You got it!

MAK: But what does that have to do with our quarter jar?

GRANT: Well, what comes the day after Thanksgiving?

MAK: Uhh…indigestion?

GRANT: Ha! Nice. Definitely a chance of that, with all that incredible foooood…

MAK: Tell me about it. My favorite is that golden roast turkey…can’t get enough.

GRANT: But I’d have to say, if I could only eat one Thanksgiving food for the rest of my life…it’s gotta be them candied yams…the crispy topping with extra marshmallows… So ggggghhhhuuuuuuu…

MAK: Mm-mmmm…you have a point. But I feel like we’re a little off-topic…

GRANT: Right. Focus. What ELSE comes right after Thanksgiving?

MAK: Oh! I know I know! BLACK FRIDAY baby!!

GRANT: Bingo! AKA the biggest shopping day of the year.

MAK: No kidding. It’s pretty full-on. Time off… Thanksgiving…Black Friday…BIG week.

GRANT: Yes….it…..is!

MAK: And it’s the start of the holiday season! We officially can begin the countdown to Christmas. My favorite time of year.

GRANT: Mine too! All that great food. Gifts. Christmas trees. The lights. Snow. Jingle Bells. Ahh the magic of Christmas

MAK: Ooooookay…Grant…Grant..GRANT! Come in Grant. EARTH TO GRANT

GRANT: Whoah! Hey sis. Sorry I must have drifted off there into a little wintery Christmas fantasy.

MAK: Yeah, I saw that. Welcome back. You’re getting way too far ahead of yourself!

GRANT: Sorry. I’m with you now. I do love that song though.

MAK: I agree, it’s a good one. A family favorite for sure. But we have to talk about Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and, most importantly, what we’re going to do with all those quarters!

GRANT: Right, right. We’ll get to that. But let’s start with Thanksgiving. Millions of people across America will be celebrating the holiday so it’s a great time to brush up on a little history!

MAK: Great idea!

GRANT: For starters, did you know that it’s illegal not to celebrate Thanksgiving?

MAK: What? Illegal? That doesn’t sound right…

GRANT: Well, prepare for me to BLOW your mind, Mak. On January 6, 1885, by act of congress – that means THE LAW – Thanksgiving officially became a holiday for all federal workers.

MAK: Federal workers? So that’s people who work for the Government right?

GRANT: You got it. Which means a public holiday, so people working for non-government companies get the day off too!

MAK: Niiiccccceeee. And it’s Thanksgiving, because we’re giving thanks for getting the day off?

GRANT: Not exactly sis. Here’s the history part. The First Thanksgiving happened as a celebration by the Pilgrims of the first harvest in the New World waaaay back in 1621!

MAK: The Pilgrims? They were the first people other than Native Americans that came to live in America right? They came from England on that ship…what was it called…the BayPower?

GRANT: Ha, it was the Mayflower!

MAK: That’s the one. You’re a walking talking Thanksgiving encyclopedia bro.

GRANT: You know my motto Mak, Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Pretty Poor Performance.

MAK: That had a lot of “P” in it.  Just like the time you drank 7 cokes in a day. By the way, since when has that been your motto…

GRANT: Ahem. Since just now.

MAK: Okaaay… All this research has clearly turned your brain to mush G.

GRANT: That’s right. MUSH potato. Just like that tasty tasty Thanksgiving dinner we’re going to be enjoying in just a few days’ time.

MAK: Cringe! Dad joke alert! You’re turning into dad! Are you losing some hair?

GRANT: Well he got the “skillz to pay the billz” so now whaddaya say about zaat?

MAK: I say…let’s get back on topic…preferably immediately…

GRANT: Right. Thanksgiving started with the Pilgrims, but it took a while to become an official national celebration. Like I said, not until the late 19th Century, so a couple hundred years later.

MAK: And then another couple hundred years…

GRANT: – meaning, right now –

MAK: Correct – to become the holiday we know and love today.

GRANT: What’s your favorite part of Thanksgiving? Apart from the food, obviously.

MAK: Great question. I’d have to say…the turkey pardoning, cracks me up every time I see that.

GRANT: Haha, that is interesting! That’s the tradition that the President pardons a turkey every year. Although it didn’t actually become a tradition until President George H W Bush made it one in 1989.

MAK: I’m sure the turkey knows he got saved. It happens every year. It’s really funny to see the President stand there with this massive turkey. What’s your favorite part G?

GRANT: Me? I like the wings.

MAK: What?? GRANT! Not your favorite part of the TURKEY!!

GRANT: Ohhhh. HA! You meant my favorite part of Thanksgiving…I’m gonna say two things, one, football and then the parades. When you see all those crazy floats, you know it’s Thanksgiving.

MAK: For sure. Remember that video we saw of Barney the Dinosaur at the Macy’s Parade in New York…it was super windy and it flopped around and  just fell apart.

GRANT: I do remember that…pretty scary, but also funny. I’ve always imagined Snoopy would magically break away and fly across the sky. Makes me laugh every time I think about it.

MAK: I hear you. So, what’s all this got to do with money anyway?

GRANT: Great question. Remember what dad always says? Finance is in all things if you look hard enough. Thanksgiving is no different – because it’s one of the most important times of the year for charities

MAK: Huh, why’s that?

GRANT: Well it’s pretty simple. People are obviously thinking about gratitude, which means they get generous, and a lot of people give some money to charity around Thanksgiving time.

MAK: I guess if you’re giving “thanks” for what you have, it’s time to share your own good fortunes. Pretty cool.

GRANT: Yep. But there’s also another thing people spend their money on at this time of year.

MAK: Right. You’re talking about Black Friday. The biggest shopping day of the year, which gives us some insights as to how well the economy is doing. With Corona, it’s a little hard to tell.

GRANT: You got it. We’re expected to spend billions on Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping. It’s estimated almost 20% of all sales happen during this period of time.

MAK: Cyber Monday, what’s that?

GRANT: Cyber refers to computers, IT, virtual reality. In this case it refers to shopping ONLINE on the Monday following Black Friday.  I guess 15 years ago it started to encourage people to shop online.

MAK: Wow, how things have changed. I think you have to be encouraged to go to the store now.

GRANT: You got that right, because a lot of Black Friday IS now only online.

MAK: I read there are going to be over 90 million buyers online. That’s over ¼ of all people in the US, and if you take out young kids and old people who don’t shop online, that’s a huge part of adults.

GRANT: Yep. It’s anticipated that shoppers save, on average, more than 33% on stuff they buy. That’s why we want to spend our money on Black Friday, because we get more for less.

MAK: 2019 was an all-time high for this period and expectations for 2020 is there will be another record. I guess if you have money and not much else to do, it’s time to GO SHOPPING ONLINE!!

GRANT: Hey, about 88% of people are planning to take advantage of the sales, and each person is expected to spend over $400.

MAK: Here’s one for you.  Sometimes people think us girls spend the most, but you boys will spend almost $150 more, on average, than us girls.

GRANT: Wow, I never knew that.

MAK: That’s crazy, right? You need to keep that in check.

GRANT: You said it. I don’t get it though – what even is Black Friday, and why is it called BLACK Friday?

MAK: I know this one. First, it’s the Friday after thanksgiving.  But, as for the “black” part, nobody is totally sure.

GRANT: Well gee, thanks for the info sis…great answer!

MAK: Wait! I’m not done. There are a couple different explanations. One is that police in Philadelphia came up with the name because there are just SO MANY PEOPLE around on that day, it’s gridlock whether you’re driving or walking!

GRANT: It sure was gridlocked BEFORE Corona. What’s the other explanation?

MAK: I like this one and I’m pretty sure dad will too, it’s one for all the accountants out there…

GRANT: Tell me.

MAK: So back when companies’ finances were handwritten, positive numbers used to be written in black, and negative numbers (those losing money) were written in red.

GRANT: So, black is good, and red is bad, like a company is bleeding cash.

MAK: Exactly.  It’s said that the money spent on Black Friday is when a company will go from Red to Black.

GRANT: Got it. So it became known as Black Friday because the huge amount of sales on that day determines if the company is going to make a profit for the year.

MAK: Exactly! It’s a little scary how important it is.

GRANT: There are a LOT of people that go shopping that day. I heard about another pretty cool thing to do with that.

MAK: What’s that G?

GRANT: It’s called a positive feedback loop.

MAK: Hm, I think I’ve heard about that. Is that when something happens, which leads to more of the same. It just keeps going in a loop.

GRANT: Exactly. Black Friday is a great example. People don’t want to  miss out on a bargain, so more and more people than normal go shopping, even if they don’t really want or need anything. Sounds like..

MAK/GRANT: FOMO, fear of missing out!!

MAK: Yeesh. Lots of people feel better when they buy something, ANYTHING. That retail therapy is a powerful drug.

GRANT: Couldn’t agree more.  You don’t actually have to go to a store. Most Black Friday sales happen online. In fact, it’s estimated that around 50% of sales happen online. In a normal year that is.

MAK: 2020 most definitely is NOT normal. Corona has changed everything. I wonder what it’ll mean for Black Friday?

GRANT: Most likely is that a LOT more sales will take place online.

MAK: People probably won’t go to the stores as much. Or they may not be able to go if there is a  lockdown in effect where they live.

GRANT: I could see that.  Hey, where’s dad? He seems pretty quiet. A little TOO quiet. Just like with Oreo, if you don’t hear from him in a while, he’s probably causing trouble.

MAK: Good question…let’s find him


DAD: What’s up guys? I’m in the closet!

MAK: Dad what are you doing in there? We just did a whole thing on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Without you.

GRANT: Snooze you lose!

MAK: Yep, and Grant counted all our quarters we collected over the last three year. We have over $127!

DAD: Nice! Sorry I missed it! But funny you mention Thanksgiving, I was just looking in here for my stretchy pants.

GRANT: I don’t even want to know…

MAK: I gotta know. What stretchy pants do you need stretchy pants for dad?

DAD: Isn’t it obvious? I gotta make room for all the turkey I’m going to eat!

MAK: Shoulda seen that coming…

GRANT: No kidding.

DAD: Now that you have Thanksgiving and Black Friday covered, what are you going to do with all those quarters?

GRANT: Well dad, we’re going to give half to charity, as a gesture of holiday goodwill. 2020 wasn’t very kind to us, but we still have it pretty good.

MAK: aaaand the other half we’re going to spend on the Black Friday sales.

DAD: Good plan! Until next time…


Dad wraps up:

It sure is a crazy week. Or is it?

Thanksgiving is usually one of the busiest travel times of the year, if not THE biggest. But just like with everything else this year, that’s different, because of Coronavirus. The downside? People don’t get to be with their extended families. That’s pretty rough. But on the bright side – maybe it’s a chance to take a breath, stay home, relax, and enjoy a quiet long weekend with your immediate family and get ALL of your shopping done early!!

Who knows what this holiday season is going to look like, but it starts now! And even though there is a lot of really positive vaccine news coming out, it’ll be awhile until that starts to have an effect. It’s going to take a long time to distribute that vaccine and for life to start getting back to the new normal. So at least through to Christmas, we’re likely going to be in this holding pattern we’ve been in pretty much all year.

It’ll be interesting to see what this does to Black Friday sales. For sure there will be fewer people going to the mall to find a bargain. But, how much of those sales will just switch online instead? And will people just buckle down and save their money? A lot of people have lost their jobs, so bargain or no bargain, it’s still money. People might choose to keep it in their pocket instead of splurging on that 64” TV they don’t really need. 

However, if you REALLY need something, now may be the absolutely perfect time to get it.  Planning your spending during this period, and executing on the needs of the family makes this a great money tip. But, ONLY buy what you need and stay away from the add-ons.  Remember, it feels really great knowing you’re financially secure, then looking financially secure.

You can bet that investors will be keeping a REALLY close eye on the first set of sales figures that come out of retail companies after this weekend. It’ll be a clear sign of how things are recovering and how confident people are in what’s going to happen next. Stay tuned to Money with Mak & G, you can bet we’ll be talking about it!

Don’t forget to join the fun, make sure to review us for a chance to win an Amazon gift card. Take a listen to Episode 909, which is only a minute long for details. Something fun to do to test your knowledge especially during a lockdown.

Thanks for being here. As always, please like, comment and subscribe, and if you haven’t yet done so, PLEASE leave us a review wherever you get your podcasts.

GRANT/MAK/DAD: Happy Black Friday and Thanksgiving!!

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