Don’t Shop Your Way Into the Red This Black Friday

Here we are again. Black Friday. Touted as the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday also bears the distinction as the beginning of holiday season shopping and is crucial for the economy. However, 33% of Americans are still in the red from last year's holiday shopping. So before you get yourself in even more debt, pause and think about your shopping before Black Friday.

How Fast We Forget Our Thankfulness

Forget about the Thanksgiving meal; let’s go shopping! You’ve all heard the joke.“Black Friday: Because only in America people trample others for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.”

All joking aside, Black Friday shopping is a serious event for many people. The pursuit of deals has begun to rival the Thanksgiving holiday and the time of giving and family that it’s supposed to stand for. Despite the ridiculous lengths people will go to for a deal, we actually advocate taking advantage of Black Friday deals if they make sense for you and your specific situation.

Yes, we are frugal people, but we also want you to experience the best shopping you can during these four days without wasting your money. So, if you decide to participate in Black Friday, we want to make sure you are in control and ahead of the game with your hard-earned money.

With that in mind, we present here some tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of Black Friday shopping. But first, a little history lesson.

A Brief History of Black Friday

Believe it or not, the term Black Friday originally had nothing to do with shopping and was used throughout history to note several negative events.

Black Friday was first used in the United States to describe a financial crisis in 1869. On September 24, 1869, a Friday, James Fish and Jay Gould tried to take over the gold market in the New York Gold Exchange.

The first known usage of Black Friday about the day after Thanksgiving was in a journal in 1951. However, it still wasn’t used about shopping, but rather to the tendency for workers to call in sick the day after Thanksgiving to have a four-day weekend.

In its modern form, Black Friday was used to refer to shopping the day after Thanksgiving in Philadelphia in the early 1960s. Police in Philadelphia also referred to this day as Black Friday because of the large crowds and traffic. At this time, Black Friday was looked upon as negative, and there were attempts by public relations professionals to change the name to something more positive.

The term Black Friday continued to spread throughout the 1970s and 1980s. However, retailers still didn’t like the term's negative connotation, so they began circulating the story that Black Friday was so named because of the profits seen by stores.

While the modern-day meaning of Black Friday shopping has become a reference to retailers being “in the black” in terms of their finances, it’s important to remember that the term was originally used to describe crisis events throughout history.

To keep the event a positive one for yourself, make sure to read and follow our tips for getting the most out of your Black Friday shopping.

Have a Plan

Black Friday today means big profits for business, but it may still denote a crisis for you if you allow yourself to indulge in a wild and crazy shopping spree. This is why it’s critical to have a plan before you leave your home.

Number one, have a list of items you want to buy. This list will primarily be for the holiday season. However, it can also include other items you need/want and have been waiting for the best deal. Black Friday is often a great time to buy large ticket items, especially for those you can afford to wait.  Just make sure you prioritize needs before wants if you have a limited budget.

Second, have a budget and stick to it. No matter the length of your wish list, you’re doing yourself no favors when you turn Black Friday shopping into Red Friday for your wallet. No item or holiday gift is worth going into serious debt for. Instead, determine what you can afford to spend, prioritize the items you most need from your list. Like gambling, once you hit your spend limit, it’s time to close shop for the day. Of course, everyone wants an amazing holiday, but be careful to plan your holiday on a budget you can afford.

Third and most importantly, do your homework. Take your time and do your homework before you start shopping. To find the best deal for the items you want, it’s important to review all the sales out there, such as door busters, early-bird specials, first 100 customer deals, coupon deals, and online specials. Doing some extra homework will also allow you to better plan your shopping day/weekend.

Be Ahead of the Game

Social media, TV, radio, and all the shops at the mall are already advertising Black Friday deals. In fact, many deals start before Black Friday. Start your homework early so that you will not be overwhelmed when Black Friday arrives.

Yes, free doughnuts, coffee, and small door prizes are attractive, and you should take advantage of them. However, don’t let that take you away from where you really want to be at a certain time to get the best deal for your buck. Did you know that you can even buy some items that go on sale on Black Friday in advance?

For example, Macy’s allows you to buy items that will go on sale on Black Friday in advance. The caveat is you can only collect them on the day of the sale. Talk to sales representatives at your favorite stores to see if you can purchase some of your items ahead of time and save yourself some sleep.

Don’t let those bad high school and college habits keep you from getting the most for your money. Do your homework early.

Always Be in Control

Yes, you can get some great deals on Black Friday. However, it’s important to remember that regardless of the depth of savings the retailers portray, you are still spending your money to buy these items.

We want to remind you to be in control during the Black Friday shopping frenzy. We know most of you are aware of the retailer’s intentions, but it bears mentioning. Retailers will do anything to get you to buy their product, so it’s important to understand the sale without becoming victims of deceiving ads. Remember that you are STILL SPENDING your MONEY no matter how much you might save off the normal retail cost.

Black Friday refers to the huge profits made by retailers, not you. In fact, you can easily turn Black Friday into Red Friday if you’re not careful. Have a plan and a budget, and only buy items you were already planning to buy.

Moral of the Story

Black Friday has historically referred to negative events, but it doesn’t have to be that way for you. In fact, Black Friday is a great opportunity to buy items you’ve needed or wanted at a fraction of their normal price. However, Black Friday shopping can easily turn into Red Friday for your wallet if you’re not careful.

Make sure you have a plan going in, including making a list of prioritized items, a budget, and doing your homework ahead of time to ensure the best plan and deals. It’s also important to begin your planning early to have the time needed to do your due diligence and ensure that you are always in control. Black Friday is a once-a-year opportunity to find amazing deals on thousands of items, but it’s not a good time to impulse shop or indulge in retail therapy.

More Personal Finance Articles by Wealth of Geeks

10 Reasons You’re Spending Too Much This Holiday Season

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24 Easy Ways to Score a Free Amazon Gift Card

This article was produced by Money Saved Money Earned and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash.

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Tawnya is a 34-year-old Special Education teacher in the sixth year of my career. Along with her partner, Sebastian, she runs the blog Money Saved is Money Earned. Tawnya has worked extremely hard to reach my goals and remain debt-free.

She holds an Honors BS in Psychology from Oregon State University and an MS in Special Education from Portland State University and has had a pretty successful writing career, first as a writing tutor at the Oregon State University Writing Center, and in recent years, as a freelance writer.

Tawnya and Sebastian have a wealth of knowledge and information about personal finance, retirement, student loans, credit cards, and many other financial topics. It is this wealth of tips and tricks that they wish to pass on to others.