If you’re like almost every other American, after you’ve gorged yourself on all the Thanksgiving day feasts, you’ll be headed out to do a little gorging of a consumer variety. Black Friday is well known as one of the largest shopping days of the year. Most every retail store has some huge deals for the turkey-drunk shoppers that wander to their doors. And, like most every other American, you’ll likely spend way more than you had planned on spending.
As your favorite personal finance blogger, I urge you to not do that. I’m all about buying what we need at a price that is below the normal retail price. Sales, coupons, and rebates are the way to go when buying things that we need. But, chances are, the things that will be on sale on Black Friday will not be things that you need. In fact, they’re likely to be things like big-screen televisions, computers, and the hot toy of the day. You’re going to be tempted to buy them all, because the marketing department makes it look like such a incredible deal! Here’s some tips for avoiding that temptation, and coming away from your Black Friday shopping with a happy account balance.
- Have a budget. This should be the only tip you need. But, you’ll get in the store and be tempted. But, having a defined budget for how much you are planning to spend is still a good thing! Even if you go over that budget, you’re much more likely to at least stay close to it if you have a budget, than you are if you don’t have one at all.
- Make a list. You’re likely shopping for gifts for everyone, hoping to make them all happy while saving some money on what you buy them. Make a list of the people you’re planning on buying for, compare it to the flyers that will be inundating your vision over the next week, and then make a master list of people, with the things you plan on buying for them, and where you’ll be buying them. Now, stick to your list!
- Be aware of prices. Just because the marketing department put the price in big yellow letters over a big red starburst does not mean that it’s really a good deal. The stores will be full of items that they are marketing as a big savings, when they really are not. Be aware of the prices of competitors, sure, but also be aware of what the price for that item was last week and be wary of artificial sale prices that aren’t really sale prices.
- Don’t fall for the swap. Many of the places will have a very limited amount of the big sale items on hand. When they run out, they’ll “swap” the sale item for a similar item that’s more expensive. You’re there for the big sale item, and you can’t leave without it, so you pay the little bit extra to get the similar item. Usually, that “swap” item is regular priced, and not on sale at all.
- Free can be bad. More than any other day in the year, the stores will be pushing free items. “Buy a tickle-me-broke, and get a free tin can!” The free item is usually a low cost item (loss leader) that they can afford to give away, while the item you have to buy is usually not on sale for as much as they’d like you to believe, and is a much higher profit item.
The biggest thing to remember while you’re doing your shopping next friday is to be aware. Be aware that the store isn’t out to save you money. They want to make money, so they will do what they can to bring you in the doors with a huge sale and then sell you all the high-profit items that aren’t on that huge sale list. We’ve all seen the videos each year of the people trampling each other trying to get one of the ten of those super cool kitchen gadgets, or video game systems. Don’t be that person. Be conscious of what you want to buy, how much it sold for before, and what the price should be the day you’re buying it. Have a set amount you want to spend and stay close to that amount. You’ll be happier that you did.
What are your plans for Black Friday? Gonna be in the crowds at midnight? Or wait until it cools off later in the day? Or, are you a Cyber Monday shopper?
photo credit: Matt McGee
I started this blog to share what I know and what I was learning about personal finance. Along the way I’ve met and found many blogging friends. Please feel free to connect with me on the Beating Broke accounts: Twitter and Facebook.
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I’ve always found that the best way to resist temptation is to avoid it, so I’ll be sleeping on next Friday.
I’ll always remember the ONE Black Friday I chose to go out shopping.
I lived in Dallas, TX, at the time, and we had had a freak Thanksgiving snow (very rare to get snow at all, esp. in November, there). Nobody, but nobody, was on the roads the next morning. I needed toilet paper or some such everyday item.
So, being from Minnesota, I hopped in my car and drove to KMart to get what I needed. It was crazy. Black Friday, around 9am, and I was the ONLY shopper in the store.
And I bought nothing other than what I needed. I don’t have a problem that way. Interpretation: I’m cheap. 😉
shanendoah@the dog ate my wallet says
At my company, Black Fridy is actually a regular work day. Lots of people take it off, but I don’t. I actually love coming in to work that day. It’s quiet and I can get a lot of things done.
Plus, I hate shopping, and I hate crowds. It’s the perfect excuse when people ask me if I want to go shopping with them on Black Friday- I can’t, I have to work.
Justin @ MoneyIsTheRoot says
Great post, I have a similar one I wrote for next week. People get way too caught up in the Black Friday madness! I am a cyber monday shopper myself, in fact, Im just an online shopper in general. I truly believe you can find better deals online anytime of the year that put the black friday deals to shame. It just takes some smart online comparison shopping.
Hunter - Financially Consumed says
We’ve already organized a family get-together on Friday to avoid the shops altogether. Phew, can’t tell you how much pressure that takes off.
I think your points are excellent. There’ no shortage of marketing scams designed to extract more money from the poor consumer.
I have no plans to attend the mosh pit which is also known as black Friday. I do not think Black Friday is worth it
Eric J. Nisall - DollarVersity says
I also stay away from the craziness. There are ways to get great deals online without having to fight crowds, lose sleep, lose time with family, and freeze your butt off (depending on where you live). I think this is one of the most ridiculous practices that people participate in, and I’d much rather be comfortably sleeping off a good meal that doing any of that stuff!
I stay clear of black friday. Partly because I dislike the crowds, but mostly because I don’t let sales affect my spending.