Ah, it’s that time of year again, when the leaves begin to fall and we start to think about…holiday shopping. Which leads us to one fateful day each year: Black Friday. Deals galore. Sales on Sales. So many things to buy, and so many opportunities to throw all inhibition to the wind and buy everything. But, of course, if you’re like me and you’re trying to save as much money as possible, you’re probably trying to avoid overspending on Black Friday.
I hear you.
So, to help you out, I put together my tips from many years of botched Black Friday shopping and the tons of psychology articles I read on a daily basis. Hopefully they’ll help you stick to your budget and avoid overspending on Black Friday this year!
Clever Ways to Avoid Overspending on Black Friday
1. Pay in cash
The best way to stick to a budget is to physically restrict yourself from access to more money. If you’re hoping to stick to a strict budget this Black Friday, leave your credit cards at home (or in the car) and only bring as much cash as your budget allows.
If you don’t believe me, then believe the data: scientists have found evidence that people who pay with cash spend less across many different scenarios.
While I usually condone using credit cards while shopping to reap the rewards, I often avoid it on big spending days like Black Friday. I have a tendency to get carried away and overspend when using my cards, since I am not physically seeing my money reserves shrinking. With cash, you literally cannot go over your budget – once you run out, you have no more to spend.
2. Eat before you leave the house
Certain studies say that people who shop while hungry tend to spend more, even if they are not buying food items. That’s right, if you deck the halls and hit the malls while your stomach is growling, you’ll likely spend more than if you are well-fed. Even if you’re only going to buy clothes and electronics.
As many shopping centers open at obscene hours of the morning on Black Friday, ensuring you’ve eaten a hearty breakfast beforehand will benefit you throughout the rest of the day. It may also help to bring snacks along with you if you’re planning to be out for several hours.
3. Make a list of prioritized purchases, and buy those things first
So you need gifts for your mom, your dad, your spouse, and your siblings. Oh, and your dog, and your next door neighbor… Yeah, I can see exactly how that might get overwhelming really quickly. If you want to try and avoid overspending, you need to know exactly what you need to buy in the first place.
Making a shopping list for your holiday gifts can help you plan, budget, and prioritize your shopping activities on Black Friday and beyond. Plus, a written list will make your impulse buys much, much more obvious. Once you’ve purchased all of the things on your list, and if you have money left over, you can consider some of the more impulsive purchases.
4. Compare prices beforehand for your desired purchases
If you want to make sure you’re not overspending, you need to identify exactly how much you should be spending. Not all discounts and retailers are created equal, so once you’ve made a list, you need to compare prices across different retailers before buying.
Why is this extra important? Because if you know and have evidence of the prices of other retailers (both online and in-person), you’ll always get the best deal. You can either attempt to negotiate a price match with your preferred retailer, or you can choose your shopping route to intentionally pass through the places you need to go to get the best prices.
5. Make sure you’re actually getting a discount
Just because something says it’s 50% off, doesn’t mean that it actually is. The frenzy of Black Friday can often lead us to think that all sales are flash sales, but in many cases, this may not be true. In fact, sometimes it’s cheaper to buy things outside of Black Friday because the promotions online are even better. And if the only “sale” you’re getting is a free gift…you’d probably be better off avoiding the crowds and making your purchase in a much calmer atmosphere.
Comparing prices can help with this, but you also need to cross check with online retailers and historic pricing trends to determine if you’re actually getting a deal at all.
You may enjoy these other holiday-related posts as well:
6. Keep all of your receipts
Sh*t happens, and it’s all too common that something you’ll buy is defective. (Maybe it has something to do with the fact that millions of Americans are picking things up and putting them down while sleep-deprived for several hours straight…) Anyway, you don’t want to lose your money on things that don’t work or aren’t as advertised, so keeping all of your receipts can help you easily make returns or exchanges as necessary.
Additionally, keeping your receipts can help you tally up how much you’ve spent at the end of your shopping excursion. Keeping a detailed record of expenses is especially important if you decided not to take my awesome advice above (AHEM) and you used a credit card for your Black Friday buying. This way, you can make sure you’ve stayed on budget and that all of your transactions were correct.
7. Or, just skip Black Friday altogether
Remember, Black Friday is an American commercial institution created to create mass hysteria over hyped-up holiday sales. It is not the only way to get meaningful presents for your loved ones. I REPEAT: the world will go on without participating in Black Friday. I promise.
If you are serious about saving money this year, consider taking Black Friday as a day off with family and friends, instead of using it to buy into the corporate frenzy. Doing this can help you be more mindful about your spending, and can help you generate ideas for presents that go beyond the commercial value of the “next best thing.”
The bottom line is this: whether you decide to participate in Black Friday or not, it’s really important to understand your financial goals and determine how they play into your holiday gift giving plans.
Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later so you’ll be ready to rock your Black Friday shopping this year!