In a recent interview, billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos cautioned Americans against making large purchases during the usual Black Friday shopping bonanza that happens after Thanksgiving. Bezos has faced some criticism for these comments as someone whose entire business model is built on getting folks to spend money — not to mention, as one of the world’s richest people, Bezos can afford to buy any new car, any time, in multiples of hundreds, without feeling any significant financial impact. But we have to grudgingly agree with this one bit of Bezos advice.
In a CNN interview, Bezos offered the following tip for small business owners and individuals alike:
“If you’re an individual and you’re thinking about buying a large-screen TV, maybe slow that down, keep that cash, see what happens. Same thing with a refrigerator, a new car, whatever. Just take some risk off the table.”
Bezos is essentially reminding us that we’re currently in uncertain economic times, and we will continue to face uncertainty in the near term. For those folks who are concerned about their financial future, it may be wise to delay large purchases — such as a vehicle — and keep some cash on hand.
Now because Bezos is worth around $120 billion and recently laid off thousands of workers, it can be difficult for the average American to take spending advice from someone who will never have to worry about paying his own bills. But if the same advice came from questionable advice-giver Dave Ramsey, all of the news outlets would be regurgitating it like it was gospel.
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Critics are right in advising consumers to dial back their holiday gift spending by deleting some items from that Amazon cart. This is sound advice as well, but the reality is that splurging on a $400 iPad is not going to have nearly the same impact on your household finances as taking on a high monthly car payment.
The fact is, it’s a terrible time to buy a car right now, both from the perspective of the individual trying to navigate a recession combined with a car market that’s anything but consumer-friendly. I’ve been saying for years that there really is no such thing as a “Black Friday Car Deal.”
Historically, the car “deals” that consumers would find around the holiday season are the result of dealers and automakers wanting to clear out inventory before the end of the year. With many dealer lots looking like ghost towns throughout 2022, there are generally no “leftover” cars to clear out, and therefore discounts and rebates will be extremely hard to come by on Black Friday 2022, or for the rest of this year.
Of course, some folks end up being thrust into this challenging car market for a number of reasons, and there are ways to make the best of that scenario. However, every year there are thousands of buyers who stroll into a dealership the day after Thanksgiving thinking they’re going to score a “deal.” Bezos and I both agree: Those folks should take a minute and really assess whether this purchase is critical right now. In most cases, keeping that cash in the bank and revisiting the car market down the road will be a much better play.
During this holiday season, perhaps we should all try to normalize spending less money and spending more time with family and friends.
Tom McParland is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. Got a car buying question? Send it to Tom@AutomatchConsulting.com