• Black Friday is marked on the day after US Thanksgiving each year
  • Buy Nothing Day is the alternative for people who see Black Friday as the "shopocalypse
  • Minimalists argue that moderation is the key - and valuing our time over saving money

As Black Friday fever inevitably sets in once again, there are those who would shun the marquee holiday sale event as horribly divisive.

Marked on the Friday after America's Thanksgiving, this year falling on 24 November, Black Friday sees retailers cut prices in a bid to lure in Christmas shoppers, and customers sharpen their elbows in a bid to beat fellow rabid consumers to the best bargains.

British shoppers are forecast to spend £10bn during the sales event this year.

However, there are those who roll their eyes at the wanton display of consumerism. To them, Black Friday should be Buy Nothing Day.

Although Black Friday has only been a feature on the UK retail calendar since around 2010, it has been marked in the US since the early 1960s. Buy Nothing Day originated as a response in 1997, when campaigners called on the public to leave their cash firmly in their wallets in a stand against mindless consumerism. It has since spread to 60 countries.

The UK's Buy Nothing Day website describes Black Friday as a "dystopian phenomenon" which sucks the life out of small businesses and skews what people value in the festive season and beyond.

It urges would-be-buyers to instead "escape the shopocalypse" and avoid becoming the sort of person "who will trample and fight... to get their hands on next year's landfill."

They have a point, considering that Black Friday is a day which marks when retailers go from being in the red to the black, as they start to turn a profit.

But as we feel the pressure to present the best gifts for friends and family on Christmas Day - and sometimes a smartwatch really does say "I love you" - Black Friday is a rare opportunity for less well-off people to indulge and buy essential items for modern life, from laptops to Freeview-ready TVs.

Perhaps we should take both Black Friday and Buy Nothing Day with a pinch of salt. Instead, let's use 24 November an inspiration to approach life a little more moderately.

This taps into the zeitgeist of millennials valuing experiences over "things", mindfulness, self-care and the obsession with Scandinavian concepts like hygge - appreciating the small things in life - and lagom - everything in moderation.

Money can buy happiness

These vague ideas of what make us happy in the long term tie in to studies that debunk the idea that money and things don't.

No one can deny that being comfortably well-off improves one's quality of life, compared to those who cope with the stress of living paycheck to paycheck.

Most recently, a study at the University of British Columbia suggested that money can buy happiness, if it is spent in the right way. The team found that directing our earnings towards services that save us time, like a cleaner or grocery delivery, are linked to a rise in happiness.

This is also the conclusion that Michelle McGagh, author of The No Spend Year: How I Spent Less and Lived More, came to after she paid for only food and bills for a year.

"I've reassessed my spending priorities and found a balance," she wrote in the Telegraph. "I buy the essentials, put aside a little for holidays, pub trips and fun, but I've cut back on the takeaway coffees no end," wrote McGagh, who also ran the London Minimalists blog.

"Ultimately, those longer-term goals, security and the feeling of contentment with what I have are important to me and make me far happier than anything I can buy in the shops," she said.

The minimalist philosophy

Fellow minimalist Colin Wright, a writer who often speaks about his pared-back lifestyle, agrees. "Minimalism isn't asceticism: it's not about denying yourself things," he tells IBTimes UK.

"It's actually about ensuring you have the things you want most, by helping you refocus your spending, time, and attention on the good stuff." It's not about living in the forest with no Wifi, although you absolutely should do that if it will make you content.

The materialism problem

James Wallman, the author of Stuffocation: Living More with Less, has a slightly different approach with the same result.

"I don't advocate minimalism," he tells IBTimes UK. "Minimalism strikes me as being anti-consumerism. I'm pro-consumerism, because of all the magic its brought us. Just think of today's standards of living and compare those to what life used to be like.

"The problem isn't consumerism — though it could do with some improvements. The problem is a consumer culture based on a value system called materialism: where we believe that more stuff will make us more happy and give us more status," he argues.

"Set yourself a time-limit, a sort of trial run," he suggests. "For example, try buying no stuff for a weekend. Spend on experiences not stuff.

"They'll bring far more happiness — and more people are realising this, hence the rise of the Experience Economy.

"The first place you should shop is your wardrobe," says Wallman, adding that the average woman, for instance, has more than 20 unworn items. "Treat your world like an exclusive nightclub, where only the best and most beautiful get in. Be strict. And have a one in, one out policy.

"Instead of buying something, take a picture of it and wait a month. Just 'capturing' it in a photo triggers the same feelings in our systems as buying it. And then, a month later, you might realise that the 'thing' that seemed so amazing back then... well, you'll likely be over it by now."

"Focus on doing things on purpose," chimes Wright. "Spending your time on purpose, spending your money on purpose, owning things on purpose. Being able to point at each thing you own and explain why you have it, what role it serves in your life, how it adds to your life."

"But if you're buying just to buy, or because you hope buying will make you happy, even just for a moment, or if you're buying because things are on sale and you might as well, because it's cheaper than usual: consider not doing that. Find happiness in other things, rather than the quick jolt of happy-chemicals you get from a purchase, but which then quickly disappears," says Wright.

The wisest way to spend 24 November, it seems, is using the time you might have spent in the shops to assess what you already own, and understand what you really value.