Black Friday surprise: Jeff Bezos tells people not to buy cars, refrigerators and other expensive goods.  Critics call it.

Billionaire Jeff Bezos, who founded e-tail giant Amazon, has some spending tips as Americans prepare for the holiday shopping season — four decades in the making inflation and recession worries.

Here’s what he said:

“If you’re an individual and you’re thinking about buying a big screen TV, maybe hold off on that, save that money and see what happens. Same with a fridge, new car, whatever. Just take a little risk off the table.

Bezos made the comments on CNN
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interview aired this week, the same interview in which he promised to give most of his fortune in my life.

Why did Bezos offer advice to consumers and small businesses to go easy on expensive items? He gave one big reason.

“If we’re not in a recession right now, we’re probably going to be in a recession very soon,” he said in the interview, picking up warning tweet last month that “the odds in this economy tell you to batten down the hatches.”

Bezos is currently the CEO of Amazon
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moved into the role last year when Andy Jassy took over the CEO reins.

Amazon has confirmed that it is lays off part of its staff in its devices and services business — joining a growing list of tech companies, including Facebook parent Meta
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— in the elimination of a large number of jobs. Amazon’s job cuts could number as many as 10,000, according to Wall Street Journal.

Critics took aim at those words of frugality coming from a man who has turned Amazon into the 800-pound gorilla of US online shopping and is personally worth about $120 billion.

Bezos certainly isn’t the only one he’s worried about potential recession as the Federal Reserve and other central banks combat higher costs by raising interest rates.

But his advice drew laughs on social media. In short, critics say these words of frugality are a little rich coming from a man — Bezos is now worth approx. 120 billion dollars — that have turned Amazon into an online megabazaar where consumers are encouraged to spend money seamlessly.

As Joshua Becker, a proponent of minimalism, wrote on Twitter: “I haven’t heard him mention holding off on Amazon’s Prime Day deals or Black Friday deals, but I recommend adding those items to your list as well.”

Regardless of how one feels about getting spending advice, including from one of the world’s richest people, there are good considerations as holiday shopping promotions increase.

On the one hand, there may be discretionary spending that people can cut. Many Americans still spend fast, like Walmart
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third quarter profits and October retail sales numbers recently confirmed. Forecasts for holiday spending paint the same picture.

Americans will spend between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion this holiday season, according to projections by National Retail Federation. Holiday sales last year totaled $889.3 billion, the trade association said.

Americans’ credit card balances rose to $930 billion in the third quarter, the biggest annual increase in more than 20 years, according to the National Retail Federation.

But Americans are planning for the holidays even as credit card balances are rising — possibly because credit cards are helping many people keep up with rising costs.

In the third quarter, Americans’ credit card balances rose to 930 billion dollarsthe biggest annual increase in more than 20 years, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

As balances grow, so do credit card interest rates. The annual percentage rate, or APR, on new credit card offers averaged 19.14% in mid-November, according to Bankrate.com. This beats the old record for APR for new cards: 19%, three decades ago.

The holiday shopping season is typically when Americans pile up credit card debt, paying off that debt at the beginning of the next year and repeating the process at the end of that year.

The stakes are higher this year amid the risk of credit card bills arriving and job losses following the recession. “This is not the time to overspend and have trouble paying your bills later,” Michele Raneri, vice president of financial services research and consulting at TransUnion
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one of the three major credit bureaus in the country, said MarketWatch. “We know the economy is sending mixed messages.”

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