Black Friday is the busiest shopping day in the United States. While many decry the demise of Black Friday, especially since Amazon Prime Day has better prices on certain items, there are still many great deals to be had. However, 1 in 3 American shoppers is still paying off last year's holiday debt as they head into Black Friday.
If you are spending money that you don’t have, then you cannot afford the item. This is true for credit cards as well. If there is no money in the bank to immediately pay it off, you cannot afford it even if you are getting cash back, points, or rewards. Therefore, you have to evaluate every “deal” by recognizing that you borrow money for it. Are you willing to borrow money for this “amazing deal”? Chances are NO.
If you budgeted and planned for the shopping that you are doing on Black Friday, then you are good to go! For many people, like myself, this is a chance to get things that we really need at a price that we can afford.
This can also be a time to stock up on things you may actually need, like clothing, winter gear, or baby stuff. Don’t forget that stores have put lots and lots of effort into making you think you need something you don’t and into thinking you can afford things that you really can’t afford. They want you to believe that the deals are amazing- but remember: a deal is only a deal if you can afford it!
How do you make the best of Black Friday?
Black Friday can be a day to get some good stuff you need, but it can also be a day where you blow money on impulse shopping because things are on sale. So I asked some Personal Finance Bloggers for their best Black Friday Hacks and Cyber Monday deals to help you get the best bang for your buck (and time!) without getting too caught up in the temptations surrounding the biggest shopping day of the year.
They don’t have your best interest in mind, and they aren’t the ones paying the credit card bills months after Black Friday is over. They aren’t the ones paying interest on purchases that are already in the trash or chasing after rebate money that you were counting on to pay for those pricey electronics.
7 Black Friday Shopping Tips:
- Brian from Debt Discipline: The best tip I can offer for Black Friday, which may be an obvious one, is to plan what you are shopping for. Use the power of the internet to research any item on your list ahead of Black Friday and make sure you are getting the best deal. Just because it’s a Black Friday deal doesn’t mean it’s the best price, do your homework!
- JoeHx from JoeHx Blog: Plan what you want to get before seeing the “deals.” Ensure what you’re buying actually is a deal and isn’t simply discounted after raising the price the week before. Finally, don’t buy anything just because it’s on “sale.”
- Mr. SR From Semi-Retire Plan: Plan ahead! Especially when shopping Black Friday at a brick-and-mortar retail store, the big-ticket items often quickly sell out. Check the sales at your local retailers online before the sale begins. Then plan strategically so you can be at the front of the line for the item that will offer you the biggest savings — like you would “beeline” to the most popular roller coaster at an amusement park right when the park opens.
- Jarek from Time in The Market: Check out websites such as slickdeals.net. There are people on there doing most of the legwork for you and posting the best deals. Even Reddit has useful subreddits such as r/frugalmalefashion or r/frugalfemalefashion that will help you spot deals with almost no work.
- Kevin from Just Start Investing: Have a plan! Obviously, there are deals everywhere on Black Friday, but just because something is on a crazy good deal doesn’t mean you should buy it. Scope out what you need ahead of time, find the best deals for it, and avoid making any impulse purchases that you’ll regret a few weeks later!
- MC at Keeping Up With The Bulls: Don’t use Black Friday and that something is “such a great deal” to justify spending. Instead, be very pragmatic about your purchases. What are things you regularly buy that you may be able to get a deal on during Black Friday or Cyber Monday? What gifts will you be buying for the holidays? What is the normal price of these items, and is there a better price during Black Friday or Cyber Monday? There are lots of deals during the holiday shopping season. If you’re not deliberate with your purchases, it’s easy to spend way more than you planned and regret spending so much!
- Enoch from Savvy New Canadians: Your Black Friday preparations should begin several weeks before. Start with making a list of the things you need to buy and do your research by clarifying the technical specifications for electronics, identifying the models you prefer, comparing prices, warranties, return policies, and determining how much you plan to spend on shopping. Make a note of when your preferred stores go live with deals online and the in-store shopping hours on Black Friday. Be ready to jump online before the start time to avoid delays at the checkout and products getting sold out. I recommend buying big-ticket items first, especially when the discounts are deep. Keep an eye on your spending, and don’t break your budget by purchasing what is not on your list. If you use a credit card, plan to pay off your balance quickly not to carry over debt into the new year.
Don’t forget to save all your receipts from your shopping expeditions so that you can return items if you do have buyer’s regret. I wouldn’t recommend counting on rebates. They often have complex and complicated rules that are designed to have a high rejection rate. If you are planning on applying for one- keep all the paperwork and receipts in a specific place, so there is less chance of you misplacing it.
5 Tips to Curb Black Friday Spending
Here are some tips to help you curb your Black Friday spending and not blow your budget. But, of course, you don’t want to be a gift to the credit card companies this Black Friday weekend.
- Make a list of what you need and stick to the list. For example, spending $16.97 on Rubbermaid Storage Containers is great if you need storage containers. Still, if you never use storage containers, then it’s just $17 in the garbage even though it’s technically a good deal.
- Decide how much you want to spend and don’t spend more! The same advice that always applies is even more applicable for Black Friday. Make a budget and stick to it! There is great pride to be had in not going over your spending limit.
- Allot some money for splurging. How much will you spend on impulse shopping and on fun things you see and don’t really need. It’s ok to splurge if you have the cash to back it up.
- Don’t count on rebates. Rebates can bring your purchase price down by a lot but don’t buy something unless you can afford to cover the entire amount. Rebates have a nasty habit of being lost, forgotten, rejected, or taking an endless amount of time to arrive. So if you won’t afford to pay for the whole thing- don’t buy it. Of course, use every available rebate site! I personally love Rakuten/Ebates.
- Don't Feel Pressured. With all the advertising and marketing dollars spent over the next few days, it’s hard not to get caught up in the pressure of needing to buy stuff. It can get to the point where you feel as if you “missed out” by not getting any “good deals” and being left out of all the action, BUT there is nothing to gain by shopping for the sake of shopping. Don’t wake up tomorrow feeling like you spent all your money on things you don’t need and won’t use. Many of these items will probably go on sale again at one point, and if you are frugal and stick to your budget, you can pay full price for these items at a later point.
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