5 Tips to Make Black Friday Shopping Work for You

I’m not a big shopper.  Never have been, never will be.

However, I do love scoring a great bargain, which is why I do some shopping on Black Friday.  However, I always remind myself that even the best deal isn’t a deal if I’m buying something I don’t need.

If you want to snag some great Black Friday deals, but you want to be mindful of your money (and your spending), trying using these strategies.

Make Black Friday shopping Work For YouMake a List of What You Need

Notice I didn’t say, make a list of what you “want.”  There are lots of things you might want looking through the Black Friday ads.  You might want the electric blanket that will keep you toasty all night long, but do you really need it?  Your son might want the latest gizmo toy, but does he already have so many toys that he doesn’t have room to put them all away?  Move on.

Make a list of things that you truly need.  Last year, my  husband and I noticed that our kitchen pots and pans were getting scraped up at the bottom and the non-stick coating was coming off.  We bought a set from Kohl’s on Black Friday, and after the sale and rebate, we got the pans for less than 50% of the retail price.  I was also tempted by the deal on a Kitchen Aid mixer, but I didn’t need the Kitchen Aid mixer, I just wanted it, so I passed that deal up.

Think Beyond Toys and Electronics

Many people think of toys and electronics when they think of Black Friday deals, but expand your horizons.  If you need new towels because yours are ragged, Black Friday is the perfect time to look.  Look around your house at anything you think you may need to replace in the next year and consider taking advantage of the Black Friday sales.

Shop Online

Thanks to the Internet, there’s no need to go shopping on Thanksgiving to score the deals or to fight with the hordes of people flocking to the store.  Most of the time, the stores only stock a limited supply of an item that will likely be sold out before you get to the right aisle.

Shop online from the comfort of your home, and you’ll find almost  everything you want in stock.  Better yet, many retailers offer free shipping, so it can be delivered right to your door.

Capture Additional Savings

If you’re shopping online, make sure to take advantage of additional savings.  Use a site like Ebates to get cash back for some of your purchases.  You can also shop online codes to get free shipping if the store doesn’t already offer it.

Learn When the Sale Starts

Now that Black Friday sales are so popular, retails are trying to extend the Black Friday shopping season.  First, they began opening their stores late on Thanksgiving night.  Last year, many retailers offered their Black Friday sales online during the entire week of Thanksgiving.  I think we scored our pots and pan deal on Monday, four days before Black Friday.

Find a deal blogger to follow, if you don’t already, to get the latest scoop on when the sales will start.

Use these tips to score the best Black Friday deals, keep your budget intact, and enjoy your time with family on Thanksgiving.

Do you shop on Black Friday?  What other tips would you add to this list?

 

How to Find the Best Financial Planner for You

My husband and I were on the hunt for a financial planner for years.  We started out using one at our local credit union, but that one seemed to talk (and talk, and talk) more than he liked to invest.  Every time we saw him, the visit would last well over an hour as he chatted about everything under the sun, except investing.  When our investments with him remained stagnant over a two year period, we decided to move on.

Over several years, we interviewed several different financial planners and received either terrible advice (like investing all of our rollover retirement money in an annuity despite our relative youth) or didn’t feel comfortable with the planner.  Finally, last summer, we found a financial planner who gave his advice based on our unique situation and the goals that we have.  All our hard work searching for a planner finally paid off!

If you’re searching for a good financial planner, here are some things you might want to ask yourself:

Best financial plannerDoes the planner come recommended? Stumbling upon a good financial advisor independently may be possible, but our planner came highly recommended from several people in our neighborhood.  In fact, one had been working with him for over 10 years!

Does the planner give advice based on your own financial situation? Some planners have stock and trade investment advice that they never deviate from regardless of your situation.  (Think of how Dave Ramsey always gives the same advice regardless of the caller’s unique situation.)

Ironically, one thing that made us go with our current financial advisor is that he disregarded the traditional advice that one should NEVER take money out of a retirement account to pay off debt.  Because we couldn’t seem to get out from under our debt no matter how gazelle intense we were, our advisor recommended that we pull out enough to pay off the debt in full.

Doing so was scary, but he was right–the tax implications were not as terrible as we had thought and being free of that debt gave us energy and confidence to achieve our financial goals including adding to our retirement every month and creating a good size emergency fund.

Is the financial advisor a teacher? Of course, I don’t mean teacher in the traditional sense, but does he take the time to explain why he is recommending specific actions?  Does he want you to understand basic investments so you feel more comfortable with his advice?

Our first planner never did this, and we were quite clueless about why he made the financial investments he did.  Our current planner will take the time to explain, and if necessary, explain again until we understand why he is suggesting the investments he is suggesting.

What are the planner’s credentials? Every planner should have some initials after his or her name.  Look these up on the web to see what obtaining them entails.  CNN Money suggests, “The ones you want to look for are the ones that take a significant amount of time and expertise to master before the designation is awarded.  These include the CFP (certified financial planner), the PFS (personal financial specialist) and the CFA (chartered financial analyst).”

How is the planner paid? There are several ways planners can be paid, but in general, be cautious with those who are paid on commission based on what products they sell to you.  While there are honest planners paid on commission that care about you and your interests, many are interested in selling the product with the fattest commission regardless of whether that product benefits you or not.

Do you use a financial planner?  If so, what criteria did you use to find the planner?

5 Ways to Have a Frugal Halloween

While the marketers would like us to think that Halloween should cost a fortune, it doesn’t have to.  On average, Americans in 2013 planned to spend $75.03 on Halloween candy and costumes.  (My guess is those with more than two children will spend significantly more than this, especially if they choose to buy costumes.)

If you use some creativity and resourcefulness, you and your kids can have a fun Halloween without spending a fortune.  Here’s a way to have a ghoulish Halloween without frightening your wallet.

Save Serious Money on Costumes

5 Ways to have a frugal halloween

If you have the cash to spend, you can certainly find costumes at a discount by visiting second hand stores or perusing Craigslist.  However, if you don’t have the money to spend or you simply choose not to, there are still plenty of adorable costumes for your kids:

Use costumes you have around the house.

If you have dress up clothes, those are fair game for a Halloween costume.  Another idea is to use your child’s clothing from extracurricular activities.  Does your son have a little league uniform?  Great, he can be a baseball player.  Does your daughter take dance classes?  She can be a ballerina.  Does your child have a pair of skeleton pajamas?  They could easily double for her Halloween costume.

Marketers want us to think that a child should be able to pick any costume he or she would like for Halloween.  However, you can limit this to whatever type of costume the child can find around the house.

Create your own costume.

With a little creativity (and maybe some face paint), you can likely find a good costume with things you already have around the house.  An old white sheet makes for a great ghost costume and your child’s clothes along with face paint can help create an adorable hobo.  With the help of Pinterest, you’ll find plenty of costume ideas you can make at little to no cost using items around the house.

Have a costume swap.

If you have old costumes that the kids have outgrown or no longer want, why not get together a few of your friends and have a costume swap.  You may leave with a new-to-him costume for your child, and you will have decluttered your home of a few costumes you’ll never use again in the process.

Save on Candy

Reuse candy.

Now, before you get upset with the wording “reuse candy” hear me out.  Buy a bag or two of candy to give to the trick or treaters.   If you have young children, take them early in the night.  When you get home, go through the candy that your kids don’t like.  (As a kid, I hated any candy bars that had nuts in them.)  This candy will likely go in your own mouth if the kids won’t eat it.  Instead, put it in your candy bowl and give it to the trick or treaters at your door.

Turn off the light when the candy is out.

I know some people who live in subdivisions popular with trick or treaters.  These people will buy five, six, seven bags of candy.  That adds up fast!  Instead, buy whatever amount of candy your budget allows.  When you run out, turn off the outside light, turn off the lights in the front of the house, and go settle in to watch a movie or read a good book in the back of the house.  Don’t feel pressured to buy more candy than you comfortably can financially.

What are your favorite tricks to save on Halloween?